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Do You Need Separate Insurance When the Kids Are Away at School?

The kids are packing the car and getting ready to go away to college. Happy days of the "College Experience" awaits them! The question is are the kids protected in the event of a loss? What about liability? Is the family protected under the homeowner policy or should we buy a separate policy for the kids? The colleges are suggesting you buy separate insurance for your kids. But do you really need it?

Let's address this in two parts:

PROPERTY: (your kids stuff, like laptops, clothing, cell phones, and books)

The good news is that all of these things are covered on your homeowner policy assuming you have a coverage known as "Off Premises Theft". If you don't have Off Premises Theft Coverage, it will cost you about $220/year to add it. If you have this coverage, theft, fire and all the standard perils would be covered in the event of a loss.

The bad new is that it is subject to your Homeowner deductible. Most Homeowner deductibles we write these days have a minimum deductible of $1,000. Sometimes they are as high as $2,500 or even $5,000. So unless something big happens like a fire wipes out everything in your kids dorm room, the loss will likely be under the deductible. Take for example your kids Mac Book Pro. Let's say the cost is around $1,500 and it gets stolen. Assuming a $1,000 deductible, do you really want to put in a claim on your policy that would net only $500? Doing this jeopardizes the parents policy. Your Homeowner insurance is much more valuable than a $500 claim. The Homeowners Insurance market is very tight these days. Insurance companies take a dim view on customers with multiple claims (especially small ones!)

LIABILITY: (losses like trip and fall, injury due to keg party, etc)

These losses are also covered under your homeowner policy. The student is still considered a member of the household even if he or she is away at college. The question is, do you want this kind of exposure on your homeowner policy? Personally, I would prefer it not be on my policy. But you are thinking "Isn't the school liable for any injuries?" The answer is maybe. More and more colleges and universities are trying to push the liability back onto the kids/parents. Will they be successful? I have no idea. Either way, I wouldn't want to take a chance.


I think you can see where I'm going with this. A small tenant policy for your child will cost approximate $225 a year. By purchasing this for your college bound child, almost all of the exposure is removed from your policy. Believe this is a good thing. The most difficult job we have is to find insurance for people with multiple claims. If we can get a quote at all, people are shocked by how much they will have to pay. In some cases the price is more than double a standard homeowner insurance policy.

It is especially a good idea if your policy doesn't have Off Premises Theft coverage. Adding the coverage to your policy would cost about the same as buying a separate policy for the student!

It is Brooks Waterburn's recommendation that if you have a child about to go to college, make the small investment and purchase a small tenant policy for them. Have questions or comments? Give us a call at 888-997-9801 or visit our website at

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