Q: My daughter is headed off to college this fall. Is she covered on my home insurance policy for all of her stuff in the dorm?
My oldest daughter is finally ready to leave the nest and will be going to college out of state this fall. Aside from all her clothes and things, she'll have her computer and some other expensive equipment. Will the things she takes with her for her dorm room be covered under my homeowner's policy, or do we need a separate policy for her?
A: Every home insurance policy is different, but in most cases, the answer to your question is “yes, you're already covered.”
Your homeowner's insurance policy includes contents coverage. Unless otherwise specified when you purchased your policy, this contents coverage amount is typically 50 percent of the amount of structural coverage you purchased. This is to say, if you have $100,000 in structural coverage (or Coverage A), you will likely have $50,000 in contents coverage. If you elect to pay a bit more to have replacement cost coverage for your personal property, as opposed to actual cash value coverage, this amount may be as much as 70 percent, or $70,000.
Within your contents coverage, most home insurance companies provide coverage for your personal property when it is off-premises. This includes such things as coverage for the belongings you take with you while you are traveling. This off-premises coverage is typically 10 percent of your total contents coverage. So, using the example above, you would have between $5,000 and $7,000 in coverage for the items in your daughter’s dorm room.
However, and this is important, some insurance companies specifically exclude coverage for contents kept in a college dormitory. This is done so that the insurance companies can advertise lower rates; and, sadly, this coverage exclusion is often unnoticed by people purchasing the policies.
Reading and understanding the fine print in insurance policies can be challenging. If you want to ensure that your daughter’s belongings are covered, it is a good idea to let your local insurance agent review your policy to let you know exactly how much, if any, coverage you can expect. If your current home policy does not provide you with the coverage you feel you need, these independent agents can help you find a competitively-priced policy that does.