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Do College Students Need Dorm Room Insurance?

One neat and one messy dorm room.
By A.J. Firstman and Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on
Living in a dorm room is a rite of passage for many college freshmen. It's a necessary departure from the home and a nice introduction to the concepts of living alone and self-sufficiency — concepts that take some time to get through young heads. But a lot more can happen in a dorm than studying and microwaving packet after packet of ramen. A great man once said, "There's a time and place for everything — and it's called college." Unfortunately, "everything" includes the bad stuff. Whether it be from acts of God such as a flash flood, pranks gone wrong, or just plain theft, dorm rooms tend to accumulate damage like a frat bro's liver. And since college students tend to leave their laptops, valuables, and other personal belongings in their dorm rooms, chances are that any property damage incurred in the course of the year will affect their personal stuff. So, given all the risk, do college students need renter's insurance or other insurance coverage in case something happens in their dormitories?

Dorm Risks

It doesn't matter if you go to a fancy Ivy League school or an inner-city community college — crime is a fact of life. Even well-secured dorms may be susceptible to theft by roommates or sticky-fingered guests. This means that valuable personal property (like your laptop, TV, musical instruments, jewelry, or cash) may be at risk the whole time the dorm is occupied. It happens more often than you might think. According to Consumer Reports, the University of California, San Francisco reported 421 burglaries and thefts in 2015 for a student body of just 3,170. Only 14 schools across the country reported no burglaries at all. Dorm rooms are also susceptible to accidents. College campuses may feel like they're separate from the real world, but fires and floods don't stop at the edge of campus. And since college students aren't known as being the most careful or conscientious of folks, the risks of any kind of intentional or accidental damage incurred under their watch is probably higher than any of them would like to admit. So even if they follow college housing laws to the letter, it still might be a good idea to maintain some kind of personal property coverage while enjoying the dorm life.

Insurance Options

Luckily, you have some options when it comes to personal property insurance coverage while living in a college dorm, both as a student and as the parent of a student. Most homeowner's insurance policies already provide coverage for children at college, though maybe not with a coverage limit you're comfortable with. Additional insurance coverage can always be tacked on to existing policies if your provider is amenable to adding a dorm "floater" or endorsement to your existing policy. If you're the student, dorm insurance is a solid option for college students living in dorm rooms. Many policies come with deductibles as low as $25 per month, and an extremely basic $5,000 policy may even run you as little as $140 per year. What if you're a student that doesn't live in official student housing? A standard renter's insurance policy could help you out there. In fact, your landlord or property company may require you to have renter's insurance, the same as they would for any tenant. There are a number of options for parents concerned about their college student's ability to keep their personal property safe from accidental damage or theft. A cheap policy may be enough to bring you peace of mind while your child is away, though you may want to opt for a policy with a higher coverage limit if you think there's a good chance you'll get a midnight call saying they accidentally broke their laptop and every other expensive item you sent them off with.
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