In college and living off campus: Should I get renters insurance? – Part 1

When you head off to college for the first time, you’ll be taking all sorts of valuable items with you. The Insurance Journal estimates that the average college student takes anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 worth of personal property with him. That laptop you’ll be using to take notes and write papers, your iPod, sound system and the bike you’ll use to get around campus are all susceptible to damage and theft. While you might think your possessions are safe in the house or apartment you’re renting, there are limitless unforeseeable scenarios that can play out. The worst part is, neither your landlord nor his homeowner’s insurance are under any obligation to reimburse you for any damage to your property. All it takes is one busted pipe when you’re in class, and you come home to a soggy and useless computer.

The good news is that you can get renter’s insurance that will either replace your property, or reimburse you for the cost of it. In fact, renter’s insurance is often one of the most affordable policies available. You’ll likely wind up paying less for renter’s insurance than you would for car insurance. Of course, one of the biggest factors in determining the cost of renter’s insurance is exactly what you want to insure. Luckily, the average college student has fewer possessions than say, your average married couple. This means you may wind up paying as low as $30-$50 per month for your renter’s insurance.

So what does renter’s insurance cover? There are seventeen scenarios under which your property will be protected. These include:

Fire or lightning. It happens, just look at Southern California.

Windstorm or hail.

Explosion.

Riot or civil commotion. These do occasionally happen in college towns.

Falling aircraft. Rare, yet sadly, not unheard of.

Smoke damage.

Vandalism.

Theft. There is a certain unscrupulous segment of the population that targets college students.

Damage by glass.

Volcanic eruption. Yikes.

Falling objects. This includes trees, which do occasionally fall over on houses.

Ice, snow or sleet causing a roof to collapse.

Water related damage from home utilities. Most often, this implies a broken pipe.

Electrical surge damage.

One of the main things to consider in all this is that your house or apartment may be in less than stellar condition. Some landlords who market to college students depend upon the navet of their target demographic. Not every student will think to inspect leaky pipes under the sink, or inquire about the condition of a house’s wiring. Nor should you have to. You should, however, consider the almost marginal cost of renter’s insurance compared to the security it can provide you.

So who should get renter’s insurance while in college and living off campus? I would recommend it to every student who owns anything more than a computer and an iPod. You’re going to have roommates, after all, and odd things beyond your control do tend to happen when you have roommates. However, if you pool your resources, you can easily split the cost of your renter’s insurances among yourselves, and enjoy some peace of mind. Chances are, it’ll be less than the cost of that satellite TV subscription you were going to buy.