Off-Campus Living Must-Haves: Futon, Pizza Money and Renters Insurance
As the University of Houston and Rice University re-open their doors for the fall semester, many area college students will be flocking back to their homes away from home. Renting a place off-campus can mean more freedom for your son or daughter, and it can also present the risks and responsibilities that come with being an adult.
While your undergraduate may be focused on studying and making friends, you can help make sure they’re protected in their new place. Your homeowners insurance policy covers your house and your personal property, but coverage does not extend to your son’s or daughter’s belongings in an off-campus apartment. A renters insurance policy can help give you peace of mind when it comes to protecting their place and belongings.
What does renters insurance typically cover?
Sure, renting isn’t like owning a property—if a tree falls on your son or daughter’s apartment, the landlord’s insurance might cover damage to the structure, but not your child’s personal effects. Disasters and theft can destroy valuable personal property or make the apartment uninhabitable. Renters insurance can provide a variety of benefits in this scenario:
- Personal property coverage – Renters insurance typically provides coverage for the loss of or damage to personal property. Valuables such as a laptop are usually protected against loss caused by a covered peril such as fire or theft.
Under an actual cash value policy, you can be reimbursed for the amount the property is currently worth. So, for example, if your teen’s two-year-old laptop cost $700 when purchased, but has lost $200 in value due to depreciation, you’d be eligible to receive only the $500 the computer is currently worth. On the other hand, reimbursement cost coverage can compensate you for the actual amount paid to replace the property. In our laptop example, if it cost $700 to replace with the same or similar laptop, you would be paid $700.
- Liability coverage – Protecting yourself sometimes means keeping your eye on others’ well-being. Accidents can happen to visitors in your son or daughter’s apartment, or damages to another person’s property can occur as a consequence of your teen’s actions. Liability coverage can help if, say, a friend falls and hurts themselves in your son’s or daughter’s apartment, or if your teen’s Christmas lights accidentally catch the neighbor’s balcony on fire.
- Additional living expenses – If a disaster renders the apartment uninhabitable, this coverage can help with the increased cost of living to rent alternate lodging. Since repairs can take time (especially during natural disasters, when labor and materials are scarce), the value of this coverage may be even greater than you think.
How do I get started?
First, sit down with your son or daughter to take stock of what they own. Using a tool, such as the nifty “What’s Your Stuff Worth?” app, can help you itemize and assign values to all of their personal property. Keep this list in a safe place (ideally backed up on the cloud or somewhere it can’t be damaged), so you can access it easily in the event you need to file a claim. Finally, consider the costs: A renters insurance policy is more affordable than you might think, and it’s a small price to pay in the event of theft or a disaster. Your insurance agent can help you identify the best coverage for your needs. In the meantime, here’s to hoping the biggest challenge your scholar faces this semester is whether to order plain cheese or pepperoni pizza to fuel an all-nighter to study. Recommended by the Editors: Houston BBB Offers Tips for Apartment Search 6 Sites to Help Decode Houston Renters Rights Two is too Much in the Houston Apartment Market
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Find your nearest Houston Allstate Agent, who can help you protect your belongings with renters insurance.