Renters insurance can protect college students after they've left the next

Your college dorm or first apartment may not be the most luxurious digs. But when you think about everything you're storing there your laptop, camera, clothing, musical instruments and other electronics and valuables), you'll realize you have a lot to lose if a burglar or natural disaster strikes. The right insurance coverage can help you replace the stuff you need to stay in school.

Coverage through your parents' home insurance

Many home insurance policies will provide some coverage for college students' belongings, even if they're not living at home, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners NAIC). If you are under age 26 and live on campus or in other school-sanctioned housing, your possessions will likely be covered under your parents' home insurance policy, according to the NAIC. However, their home insurance may not cover an off-campus apartment. No matter where you're living, be sure to talk to your home insurance company in advance.

Renter's insurance coverage

Your landlord's insurance covers only the building, not what you put inside it. Some landlords will require you to get renter's insurance. Even if yours does not, this type of coverage can be invaluable when the worst happens. It's usually affordable too -- often less than $20 a month, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Renter's insurance covers your belongings after any of the perils listed in your policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, these perils usually include:

  • Fire.
  • Smoke.
  • Theft.
  • Vandalism.
  • Storm damage.
  • Water damage.
  • Wind damage.

Keep in mind that floods which are different from water damage) and earthquakes often are excluded. Also, be sure you know the difference between replacement value and cash value coverage. Cash value coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute, covers the cost of an item, minus a depreciation deduction. Replacement value coverage will give you enough money to actually go out and buy a replacement.

Renter's insurance also includes liability coverage, which will shield you from court costs if someone is injured in your apartment or if your dog bites someone.

Staying organized

Chances are you've got a long list of the items needed to outfit your dorm or apartment. It's important to keep track of them -- otherwise, the insurance claims process can be a nightmare. The Insurance Information Institute recommends doing the following:

  • Maintain detailed records of all your possessions. A variety of insurance inventory apps and software programs will help you keep track of everything. Be sure to photograph each item.
  • Home and renter's insurance policies usually have coverage limits. If you have a particularly expensive laptop or musical instrument, you may want to purchase a floater, which will provide extra coverage for a specific item.
  • If you can't leave them at home, think about storing jewelry and other small valuables in a safe deposit box at a bank near your school.

See how easy it is to shop for and save on renters insurance -- get your free quote now.