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Insurance is for unexpected events, and the college years are certainly full of surprises. While your first time living away from home is exciting, it can cause some anxiety, too. The last thing you need is to worry about replacing lost or stolen personal property, or facing a lawsuit on your own.

That’s where student renters insurance comes in. Whether you’re living in a dorm room or off-campus apartment as a college student, you’ll need coverage for yourself and your personal belongings.

Student renters insurance protects your property from unexpected events like fire and theft, and offers personal liability coverage, which will help pay for legal or medical costs if someone injures themselves while at your place. It even helps pay for additional living expenses if you have to temporarily relocate from your dorm or apartment.

Keep reading for more insight into student renters insurance and other types of insurance policies for college students:

How to get student renters insurance

If you haven’t bought insurance before, the thought of doing so can be a bit overwhelming. Your first step should be making sure you’re not already covered by your parents’ homeowners insurance policy — ask your parents to contact their insurance provider to find out.

Good to know: It may still be worth it to get renters insurance even if your parents’ policy covers you. If their personal property coverage only covers a small percentage of items outside of their home, it may not be enough protection for your property. And if they have a high deductible on their personal property insurance, it might cancel out any reimbursement for your lost or damaged belongings.

If your parents’ homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover you, or wouldn’t provide enough coverage, follow these steps to buy a college student renters insurance policy:

  1. Determine the value of your personal property. Take note of everything you own and write down the value of each belonging. Also take photos or videos of all your personal property so you have an inventory. Once you’ve written out all the estimated costs, you can total them up to estimate what it would cost to replace all your belongings.
  2. Comparison shop. Don’t just settle for the first policy you come across. Compare quotes from a few different insurance providers to see which one offers the best rates for the coverage you need.
  3. Work with your landlord. If you’re living off-campus and have a landlord, he or she can let you know what type of security devices your place has, like a burglar alarm or sprinkler system. These things can potentially qualify you for a discount on your renters insurance.
  4. Buy a policy. You can usually purchase a student renters insurance policy online or over the phone from an insurance agent.

Learn More: What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Dorm insurance for college students

Just as homeowners can get homeowners insurance and tenants can purchase renters insurance, if you live in a dorm, you can get dorm insurance. Dorm insurance protects your personal belongings and it’s a good option if you’re a cash-strapped student.

Dorm insurance is roughly $15/month, and you may be able to get it with a deductible as low as $25.

Off-campus renters insurance for college students

If you choose to live in an off-campus apartment or house instead of a dorm room, you can get a standard renters insurance policy to protect yourself.

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How much renters insurance do I need?

Renters insurance generally costs about $15 a month, and deductibles range from $500 to $1,000. However, the amount of coverage you require affects the cost of your policy, as does your chosen deductible. The higher your deductible, the less your premium will cost.

Tallying up the value of your belongings will help you determine how much coverage you need.

Tip: To be on the safe side, round up to the nearest $10,000 when estimating the cost of your personal property. For example, if your estimated total comes out to $22,500, it’s a good idea to get $30,000 in coverage.

Other renters insurance coverages for college students

Let’s take a look at the other coverages within student renters insurance beyond personal property.

College student insurance for personal liability

Your parents’ renters or homeowners insurance, or your policy if you purchased one in your name for off-campus housing, includes personal liability coverage.

Personal liability insurance covers two circumstances:

  • Legal expenses you incur if you harm someone (COVID-19, STDs, or a punch in the face) and get sued; or
  • If you damage someone’s property and need to replace it or cause them bodily injury and have to pay their medical bills.

Comparing quotes from multiple insurance carriers can help you find a policy that provides the liability coverage you need. The Credible marketplace, which includes insurance services by Young Alfred, makes it easy to find a carrier and homeowners policy that’s right for you.

College student insurance for loss of use

Loss of use coverage is also typically included in renters or homeowners insurance policies. If something happens to your off-campus apartment that makes it uninhabitable, this coverage can help cover the cost of living elsewhere.

Learn More: An Overview of Loss of Use Coverage

College student personal property floaters

Floaters — also called endorsements, riders, or add-ons — are other coverages you can add to a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Their purpose is to increase coverage limits of specific personal belongings that have payment caps under a standard home or renters policy.

Standard policy limits typically average $1,000 to $2,500 for each category and per claim, whereas floaters are usually set at the item’s value.

Examples of items with policy maximums are:

  • Jewelry
  • Laptops
  • Musical instruments

Floaters essentially give you a dedicated computer insurance policy in addition to your standard homeowners policy. Standard policy limits and floater limits determine the amount of money you get from your insurer significantly, so it’s a good idea to check your parents’ policy limits before heading off to school.

Check Out: Personal Property Coverage: What It Is and How Much You Need

Additional protection for college students to consider

The following insurance policies can be helpful to have as a college student so you can worry less and focus on your studies.

Student health insurance

You may think you don’t need to worry about health insurance if you’re a young college student with access to your student health clinic. But everyone gets sick from time to time, and sometimes the situation is more serious than a campus clinic can handle.

Going without health insurance is never an option. A single doctor’s visit can cost hundreds of dollars if you’re uninsured. More serious health issues could create a mountain of medical debt.

Fortunately, you have health insurance options, including:

  • Medicaid (in some states)
  • Staying on your parents’ health insurance
  • University student health plans
  • Catastrophic plans

Plus, it’s likely your school will require you to have health insurance as a condition to attend.

Good to know: The Affordable Care Act allows you to stay on your parents’ health insurance until age 26 — even if you get married, have a child, leave school, don’t live in your parents’ home, aren’t a dependent on their taxes, or have access to your own job-based coverage.

Student dental insurance

If you’ve already had your wisdom teeth removed and have been attentive about your dental health, you may be able to get through college without needing any major dental work.

Basic dental insurance is relatively cheap, but it’s a good idea to compare the cost of out-of-pocket preventative maintenance vs. a dental insurance policy. Your best choice typically boils down to how much and what type of work you need. Genetics and self-hygiene are indicators to follow when deciding what to do.

Read More: Medical Payments Coverage: What It Is and How It Works

Car insurance for college students

Most states require drivers to have vehicle insurance. As a college student, you may be covered under your own or your parents’ car insurance policy.

If you get good grades, you may be able to get a discount on your vehicle insurance. Most auto insurance companies offer 15% to 25% discounts off premiums if students exceed a B or 3.0 average.

You may also be able to lower your premiums by:

  • Maintaining a clean driving record
  • Getting driver education certifications
  • Avoiding accidents and car insurance claims
  • Piggybacking on a parent’s policy
Good to know: Only Virginia and New Hampshire don’t require drivers to have auto insurance — although both encourage drivers to get it. But in Virginia, you’ll pay a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee to the state Department of Motor Vehicles if you choose to forgo insurance.

Pet insurance for student’s pets at college

If you live in off-campus housing, you may be able to bring your best friend with you to college. But can you pay for a $50,000 dog bite? That’s the national average cost of a lawsuit over a dog bite, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Your renters insurance, or your parents homeowners insurance, likely includes liability coverage. But check to make sure that coverage extends to dog bites — not all policies do. You may need to buy additional coverage.

And you’ll want to keep your pet healthy. Vet visits for younger dogs, including wellness exams and parasite prevention, can range $100 to $320, according to Rover. If your pet is older or has health problems, your veterinarian expenses can go even higher. Pet insurance covers veterinarian medical bills that can be quite expensive.

Learn More: Everything You Need to Know About Home Insurance Claims

Tuition insurance for college students

If a health issue forces you to drop out during an academic term, tuition reimbursement insurance can help you recoup some, or even all, the money you put toward school expenses. Before buying this type of insurance, check your school’s refund policy to ensure you’re not purchasing something you don’t need.

Tuition insurance may reimburse you for tuition, room and board, and some other fees if a covered reason forces you to withdraw from school. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, typical covered reasons include:

  • Physical or mental health illness
  • You get injured
  • You pass away
  • A person paying your tuition passes away
Keep in mind: Covered reasons and reimbursement amounts can vary widely from insurer to insurer, so be sure to carefully review policy information before buying.

College study abroad insurance

If your renters insurance or your parents’ homeowners insurance includes off-premises coverage, some personal property, and personal liability policies extend to students studying and traveling internationally. But, homeowners and renters insurance won’t cover the cost of an airplane ticket for trip cancellations or interruptions, or emergency medical care and other similar events.

It’s a good idea to compare study abroad insurance with travel insurance to determine which is best for your needs.


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​​Disclaimer: All insurance-related services are offered through Young Alfred.

About the author
Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco has been a personal finance writer for over seven years and is a contributor to Credible. She has contributed content to more than a dozen financial brands, including LendingTree, Credit Karma, Fundera, Chime, MagnifyMoney, Student Loan Hero, ValuePenguin, SoFi, and Northwestern Mutual.

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