Why Every College Student Needs Renters Insurance

By Ashley Paskill on June 24, 2019

As a college student, it is likely that you are hesitant to spend money that you absolutely do not need. This is true when it comes to deciding whether or not you need renters insurance if you are living on or off campus. If you are renting for the first time, you may be skeptical about what renters insurance can do for you and if it is truly worth your limited money. However, the low cost of renters insurance is worth it, especially in comparison to the alternatives.

Think about it. You come home and see your apartment on fire. You and other tenants will have to find a new place to stay and buy new items. If you do not have renters insurance, you are left to pay for new belongings as well as the moving expenses to a new place. Renters insurance will help you cover these costs. Also, if you come home and find that your apartment has been broken into, your landlord will not pay for any items that were stolen. Again, renters insurance will help you pay for replacement items for what was stolen.

Image: Jose Alonso via https://unsplash.com/photos/6ZSzKPHfooU

You live off-campus

If you live in an off-campus house or apartment, you need to get your own insurance coverage. If you are listed as a dependent on a parent’s insurance policy, you are likely only covered if you live in a dorm. Even if you are covered off-campus, you may only get a small percentage of the coverage you need. It is better to get your own insurance so that you get the coverage you need in case something were to happen so that you are not left paying more than necessary.

It has a wide range of coverage

Many people think that their landlords are going to reimburse them for things that happen. However, this is unfortunately not the case. Landlords may have a security deposit to take care of a few things, but it is by no means a comprehensive cover for incidents that occur. Many landlords fix things that go wrong, but they do not cover the belongings that may be damaged in the process.

Many times, renters insurance comes with liability protection. If something happens on your property, including someone being injured, you are liable for the damages and have to pay. Liability protection covers you if something happens so that you are not left paying for medical bills or repairs by yourself. This also covers you if someone sues you for something related to your apartment. This is especially important if you have people over quite frequently. Also, if something happens like a bath or water source floods and leaks through the roof, you are probably going to have to pay for the damages. In this case, it is better to be covered.

Also, if something were to happen where you could not live in your apartment for a few days, renters insurance may be able to help you get a place to stay as repairs are being made. This is not necessarily going to be included in your package, but it is worth having so you are not scrambling for a place to stay when an emergency arises. This kind of coverage will help you find temporary housing while your apartment is being repaired. If you need to find a new place to stay all together, this coverage may help you cover moving expenses.

It is no secret that theft is common on college campuses, especially if your apartment is in an area that has high crime levels. No matter how much you proof your apartment by locking up your apartment and belongings, thieves may still find a way to get in to steal your belongings. While getting items back requires paperwork, police involvement, and other actions, you will have some coverage. Note that different policies have certain amounts covered and may not cover every item. Make sure you check out each policy so that you get the one that is best for you. Depending on your coverage, you may also be able to have coverage for things that are stolen out of your car. However, it will not cover damage to your car, but that should be covered by your car insurance.

In some instances, medical incidents are covered by renters insurance. If something were to happen to you or someone else on your property, you are likely going to be responsible for the bills. Some renters insurance policies have medical coverage just for these instances so that you are not on your own if an emergency would come up.

Infographic by Ashley Paskill

You may not be covered under your parents’ policy

If your parents have some form of insurance on your home or apartment, you may be able to take it with you if you are a dependent. However, this is usually only the case if you are living in a dorm. If you are living in an off-campus apartment, you will need to get your own coverage. Even if you are covered under your parents’ policy, it may be limited in what is covered. Getting your own renters insurance will make sure you are covered for all that you need.

In the rare instance that you are covered under your parents’ insurance in an off-campus apartment, it may not give you the coverage you need to ensure that you are all set. A lot of policies will only cover 10 percent of the damages or liabilities. Sit down with an insurance agent to go over what is covered if anything is. If nothing is covered, or you want more coverage, the agent can help you get set up with your own insurance.

You live in an area that is prone to certain incidents

Some areas are prone to natural disasters such as flooding or fires. These things are out of your control, but without renters insurance, you are responsible for paying the damages that ensue from these incidents. Having renters insurance is a must in these areas in case your belongings get ruined or your apartment becomes unlivable. Many renters insurance policies have coverage for belongings as well as coverage to help you move to a new place. Many natural disasters can be added as add-ons to a basic policy, which is something to consider if you live somewhere where these events are common.

Other areas have higher rates of crime and theft. This is especially true in urban settings or in places where there is a high college student population. No matter how safe you keep your house or how many locks you have, things can still happen and items can be stolen. If you do not have renters insurance, you are on your own for paying to replace your items. With renters insurance, you will receive at least some assistance in paying for new items, even if not everything is covered. Check with your agent to see what is covered. Sometimes, if your car is damaged while on your property or something is stolen, your renters insurance will help you take care of it. This is helpful if you do not have theft protection as a part of your car insurance.

Renters insurance can save you money in the long run

A common misconception with renters insurance is that it is expensive. With a student budget, an additional bill each month may sound dreadful. However, the monthly bill may be under $50 depending on your insurance company and policy. Also, if you do need to file a claim for stolen or damaged belongings, the cost of replacing these items can be astronomical. This is especially true if high-cost valuables such as your phone, TV, books, or laptop are impacted. All things considered, the small monthly price of renters insurance is minuscule compared to having to pay for the damages out of your own pocket.

Your landlord may require you to purchase renters insurance

More and more landlords are requiring their tenants to have some sort of renters insurance coverage. As a result, having renters insurance will allow you to have a wider choice of where you can live. It will also keep you in good standing if your landlord is adding the contract for their tenants. If you get it early on, even before it is required, you will not have to panic about making the time to do research and get a policy.

Even if your current landlord does not require renters insurance, it is good to get it so you are not scrambling to find out how to do it later. That way, you can figure out if the original policy you have is working for you or not. You will have a chance to search around. Also, it will look good when you say on your application that you already have coverage instead of having to say that you need to find an insurance policy.

Image: Grant via https://unsplash.com/photos/N90LM3A5AZQ

Your roommate has it… or does not

While it may be tempting to think that because your roommate has renters insurance, you are also covered since you live in the same apartment. However, this is not the case. Many insurance policies require each roommate to have their own coverage for their belongings. Also, your landlord’s policy will not cover you either. You will need to have your own policy to have you and your belongings covered.

However, there are some policies that will allow you to add your roommates. Of course, your monthly payments will go up since you are adding more people. Check with your insurance agent to see if you can add people on your policy. You can have your roommates give you the money that covers their part of the policy.

You are likely not covered by your landlord’s policy

Even if your landlord has their own insurance policy, it is not guaranteed that you will be covered under that policy. If they offer insurance, get information about what is covered so that you can make an informed decision on whether to take that policy or go elsewhere. Shop around and see if you can find a better price. If you are covered, you may not have all of the coverage that you want or need. Getting your own will give you control as to what coverage you get and how much you pay.

How to get insurance

Most major insurance companies offer renters insurance. Shop around to find the best coverage for the best price. Make a list of things you want and have a general idea of how much the belongings you will have at school are. That way, you can know the amount of coverage you will need to get. If a friend or family member has renters insurance, ask them for their advice. You can also have them go with you, especially for your first time so that you are not confused by everything going on. They can help you sort through the information that is presented to you to get you what you need.

Before you make a decision, make a list of the items you are taking with you to your apartment or rental house to make sure you have a list of approximate prices and items that are yours. That way, if you need to file a claim for damages to belongings, you have a list. Have a copy in a safe place in your apartment such as a fireproof safe. Also, make a copy to give to your parents. If something happens and your copy is destroyed, they will be able to send it to you. This will be easier if the list is in a computer document.

Getting renters insurance can seem daunting and unnecessary, especially if it is your first time. It can seem like one more thing to do in your limited time and another bill with your small budget. However, it is absolutely necessary so that you do not have to pay more out of pocket than you need to if something happens.

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