Summer’s already winding down (how did THAT happen?!) and twenty-one million kids are getting ready to go back to college campuses around the country. Some are heading there for the first time, while others are moving into their very first off-campus apartment. My first day of freshman year is burned into my brain. Meeting my roommate, moving in, and making my first college friend all serve as fond memories of that time.
Then, sophomore year, my very first apartment! I moved off campus into a townhouse with three other people and stayed there for the rest of college. I loved that place- the tiki bar we built, pool table, all of the daily studying we did. There was just one minor blip. Someone broke into the townhouse while we were away on break. Nothing was broken or damaged, but they stole everything of value: TVs, laptops, jewelry (the little I had), gaming systems, etc. It was crazy scary!
By that time I had been working for the insurance agency for six years, so after the police left I called my trusty insurance agent (Dad) and reported a claim. I knew, as well as he did, that our home insurance policy would step in and help out because the lease was in my parents’ name and I still lived at home (I never changed my residency to Virginia). Our policy at the time insured up to 10% for property off premises and included liability. What does that mean? If we were sued because of anything that happened at school or if there was a break in, my parents and I were all insured on the home insurance policy even though I was states away.
Even back then I loved insurance coverages and forms. None of my roommates had any idea if their parent’s insurance policies would respond (and none did.) No one had any clue what was covered or wasn’t, and why. Here’s the question- does the non-insurance geek understand the ins and outs of a home insurance policy and how it reacts to kids living at school? Answer: probably not.
Here’s a super quick, extremely basic, very generic breakdown of what’s what:
Your home insurance policy could cover a child who still lives at home while they live in on-campus housing. It will cover for both liability and a portion of the property they take with them.
Off Campus Housing
If the Named Insured on the home insurance policy signs or co-signs a lease for their child who still lives at home, then you could have coverage for both liability and the property they take with them. If the lease is solely in the name of the child, if the child is no longer a resident of your household, or if they’re over the age of 25, your child will need to buy a renters insurance policy of their very own, in their own name.
Now, let me append that last paragraph- some insurance policies have an age limit, kinda like health insurance. There’s a point in which they will say enough, Little Johnny is on his own. You can buy an extension to that limit for the lawyers/doctors/PhDs/forever in school group that are legitimately still in school and not just living in a college town & working. Not all insurance policies allow this and some that do allow it charge a boatload for it. But it’s an option.
Conclusion? Call your favorite insurance agent to have a discussion. The breakdown above is based on a standard insurance policy. Policies, however, are never identical. Yours could have a very funky exclusion in it, or a very broad definition that says everyone’s insured everywhere! At least now you know to ask. So ask away, friends! Ask away.