Call your parents right now, and ask if you have renters insurance. Odds are you’re one of many students who passed on the expense.
Only 46 percent of renters nationwide had insurance in 2018, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit association of insurance providers.
Matt Doyle, vice president at Gallagher Insurance, said renters insurance protects two things: a tenant’s valuables and the tenant themselves.
If a student’s computer is stolen from their apartment, insurance will help replace it, he said. Or if they cause a fire, and it damages the building, renters insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding.
“It’s not expensive. To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Molly Philipps, chief counsel of Student Legal Services Civil Team at Ohio State, said.
Students can expect to pay $10-20 per month on renters insurance, she said.
Without insurance, students open themselves up to personal liability. Any co-signers to a student’s lease, including their parents, could also be liable for damages if students do not buy coverage, Philipps said.
She also said students should look at their lease to see if they’re required to carry insurance and what type of coverage is required.
“People think that the landlords are trying to screw them over,” Philipps said. “But that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
A student’s renters insurance can be bundled under their parents’ homeowners policy, but Philipps said she doesn’t recommend it.
“It’s not a given that if your parents own their home that you will be covered at college,” she said. “First, you have to determine whether that’s even the case.”
Additionally, homeowners policies tend to have a high deductible, she said. So if a student’s computer is stolen, the deductible may be as much as a new computer.
“Renters insurance is just better suited for [students’] situations,” Philipps said.
Doyle said students should look for policies with low deductibles, coverage for accidental damage and have liability insurance.
Students should avoid buying insurance online because if they buy it in person, they will have someone to call if they need to make a claim, Philipps said. Insurance agents can also explain to students the specific coverage they will receive.
SLS can also review lease agreements and answer students’ questions about renters insurance, she said.
Students should take inventory of personal belongings, writing down serial numbers, the price they paid and taking pictures. Having an inventory will make the claims process easier, Doyle said.
“A lot of landlords in this area tend to be lax at enforcing renters insurance requirements,” Philipps said. “But that doesn’t mean that as a renter that it’s a good idea not to have renters insurance. It’s a terrible idea not to have renters insurance.”
Editors note: A previous version of this story said “Any co-signers to a student’s lease, including their parents, could also be liable for damages if students buy coverage.” It has been corrected to “Any co-signers to a student’s lease, including their parents, could also be liable for damages if students do not buy coverage.