College students usually don't have a lot of cash to throw around. If someone is injured in your dorm room or your apartment gets robbed, the cost to take care of medical bills or replacing stolen items can break the bank.

Renters insurance can be an excellent way to prevent such a scenario. Renters insurance covers your belongings in your dorm or apartment, and may even cover items you keep in a storage unit. It can also cover medical costs if someone is hurt at your place, and take care of extra costs if you have to relocate while your home is being repaired.

In this article

What does renters insurance cover?

Renters insurance generally covers your personal property, liability (if someone is injured in your rental unit) and additional living expenses if you need to relocate after a fire or other covered peril.

Personal property

If your belongings are damaged or destroyed by a covered peril in your dorm or apartment, renters insurance will cover repairs or replacements up to your policy limit. Renters insurance policies may also cover theft or damage that occurs to belongings you keep in storage, and even while you're on vacation.

Liability

If someone is hurt in your rental home, renters insurance can help cover medical bills and legal fees that may result from the incident.

Additional living expenses (ALE)

If damage to your rental home, such as from a fire, requires you to move somewhere else while repairs are done, ALE coverage, also known as "loss of use," helps pay for additional expenses tied to the relocation. This includes:

  • Extra rent costs
  • Restaurant meals
  • Laundry
  • Additional commute costs to college

How much does renters insurance cost?

According to our research, the average cost of renters insurance is $10 a month. Your final quote for a renters insurance policy is based on various factors, including:

  • Your age
  • The location of your rental home
  • The coverage limits you choose
  • Your credit score

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Renters insurance tips for college students

Here are some tips to get the best coverage you can when buying a renters insurance policy.

See if your parents' home insurance covers you

If you're under 26 years old and your parents have a homeowners insurance policy, it can provide partial coverage if you're living in a dorm. Some home insurance policies have "off-premises coverage" that may protect you and your belongings while you're at school. This can be helpful if you're on a tight budget and can't afford renters insurance.

Your parents' home insurance policy won't provide the same level of coverage that your own renters insurance policy would. Your parents' home insurance only provides a percentage of off-site coverage based on their policy limits. For example, if your parents' personal property coverage is $150,000, coverage for off-premises property is usually around 10% of that, or $15,000.

The off-premises coverage only covers you if you're living in a dorm. If you live off campus, you'll need your own renters insurance.

Get your own renters insurance policy

While it may be tempting to share a renters insurance policy with a roommate to save some money, it probably isn't in your best interest. It also may not even be an option. Some renters insurance companies only allow married couples to share a policy.

Even if it is allowed, sharing renters insurance has many disadvantages. Among these are the fact that everyone on the policy shares coverage limits. For example, say you and your roommate share a policy with $100,000 worth of personal property coverage. You have $75,000 worth of belongings and your roommate has $80,000 worth of belongings. If all of your belongings are destroyed in a fire, neither of you will be fully reimbursed for your losses.

On top of that, sharing a renters insurance policy can make getting reimbursed for claims difficult if both parties need to sign the claim check. If one of you moves out, changing the policy can be difficult as well.

Create an inventory list

Getting an accurate amount of personal property coverage requires you to make an inventory list of your belongings. If you aren't bringing a lot of stuff with you to college, this shouldn't be too time-consuming. Putting this list together can keep you from overpaying for renters insurance, as well as make sure you have enough coverage to fully protect yourself.

Your stuff isn't covered by the college

Your college's insurance only covers the structure of your dorm, not the belongings in it. Their insurance is only intended to cover damages to their buildings. It is assumed you will cover your own property and liability.

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