Although many people look back fondly at their college years, it’s also a period of time that can be filled with worry. As a college student, you may be stressing out about grades or looking for a part-time job. You may feel overwhelmed trying to juggle studies, part-time work, and a social life.
But there’s at least one more area that deserves your attention—protecting your belongings. Whether you live on campus or share an apartment with roommates, you should consider getting renters insurance.
Why college students should have renters insurance
Your university or landlord almost certainly has an insurance policy that provides coverage in the event of property damage. However, this type of coverage won’t cover the personal belongings you keep in your dorm room or apartment.
If you live away from home, your parents’ insurance policy might not help you. Although their policy may offer some benefits, if you live in student housing, that’s not always the case.
Many college students need their own renters insurance policy. Having renters insurance protects you if things go wrong and your belongings are lost, damaged, or stolen (as well as in other instances).
Here are a few examples of situations where renters insurance may protect you:
- A fire in your dorm, apartment, or rental home damages your belongings
- Someone steals your belongings from your room or elsewhere
- Your dog bites someone and they sue you
- Personal property in your room or rental is damaged and you need to replace it
The need for a good renters insurance policy may be more pressing than you realize. According to the US Department of Education, nearly 2,000 fires occurred in on-campus student housing in 2017. Additionally, the National Center for Education Statistics reported over 13,000 incidents of burglary and robbery on college campuses in 2016.
Like a lot of college students, your budget may be tight. Adding another monthly bill to your plate is probably the last thing you want. But you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the cost of renters insurance could be a lot less than you expect.
The cost of premiums can vary based on factors like the amount of coverage you need and the size and location of your rental or dorm. Most policies cost between $150–$300 per year. So if you pay your premium monthly, it may only cost between $12.50–$25 per month.
Related: How to Figure Out Your College Costs
Why you shouldn’t share your renters insurance
In college, you likely have roommates who share your dorm or apartment with you. While it’s fine to share the cost of your electric or water bill, it’s not wise to share renters insurance. Sharing a renters insurance policy is a bad idea for several reasons:
- If your roommate files a claim on a shared policy, your premium could increase.
- You might have a hard time cashing an insurance check if you need to file a claim.
- The insurance company may not allow the policy to be shared anyway.
How to keep an inventory of your possessions
If you take out a renters insurance policy, it’s smart to create an inventory of your possessions. An inventory can be helpful in the event you ever need to file a claim. You can even create your list of belongings before you purchase your renters policy to make sure you’re paying for the right amount of coverage.
The process of creating an inventory isn’t difficult. You can write it by hand, type it up on your computer, or use an app on your phone to plug in each item. Regardless of how you opt to create your inventory, you should follow a few basic rules:
- Document one room at a time. This will help you avoid missing belongings and can also make the process go faster.
- Save your receipts when possible. You can also scan receipts or take pictures of them instead.
- Back up your inventory. If you’re creating a digital list of belongings, make sure your information is backed up to the cloud. Your list should be easily accessible anywhere, not just on the device where you created it. For paper inventories, consider scanning a copy to save it in the cloud too.
- Take pictures and videos. Use your phone to snap photos of the belongings in your inventory, or record video of your belongings one room at a time. When you’re done, save everything to the cloud, not just on your device.
How to find the best deal
If you’re ready to take out a renters insurance policy, it’s wise to shop around for the best option before choosing your coverage. Price is important, but you should pay attention to the quality of coverage as well (i.e., policy limits, deductibles, etc.). Comparing premiums and the type of coverage offered can help you find the best policy for your situation.
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