Adulting 101 for College Students: On Renters Insurance

By Julia Dunn on August 29, 2017

If you’re considering moving off campus into an apartment, or even splitting a house with five friends and sharing the rent, you’ve probably heard of renters insurance. Maybe it came up in an off-campus housing 101 workshop on campus or maybe your family mentioned it when you told them you were moving out of the residence halls. Perhaps you ignored the phrase because it sounded too much like “adulting” (and we know adulting is hard).

I’ve heard the term, but I’m not exactly sure what it means. What is renters insurance?

If you haven’t heard of renter’s insurance, here’s a basic explanation, courtesy of Allstate:

“A renters insurance policy is a group of coverages designed to help protect you and your belongings. A typical renters insurance policy includes liability coverage, protection for your belongings and coverage for additional living expenses, should the home you’re renting become temporarily uninhabitable. While you may not always be able to prevent certain situations, such as a break-in or visitor’s injury, renters insurance, sometimes referred to as ‘tenant insurance,’ may help minimize the impact, whether you’re renting a single-family home or an apartment.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s break it down. Why would it be worth it for me as a student to get renters insurance?

Renters insurance is important because it ensures that you’re in the best possible situation if disaster were to strike. As was suggested in the definition above, having renters insurance can lessen the blow if someone does break into your home and take off with your laptop, clothes, fancy digital camera, or special necklaces. It would be devastating to discover that these items went missing or were defaced, especially if your wallet was low on cash.

Most renters insurance can cover the cost of replacing your items (at least, those which are replaceable — your personal items, such as photos and keepsakes or handmade mementos, are harder to replace). Typically, your possessions will be covered by renters insurance in the case of the following events:

•Fire or lightning

•Windstorm or hail

•Explosions

•Smoke

•Vandalism

•Theft

•Burglary

•Falling objects

•Weight of ice, snow, or sleet

•Freezing

•Volcanic eruption

Can I share the cost of renters insurance with my roommate/housemate? Would this be a good idea?

There are benefits and detriments of sharing your insurance with someone. The main benefit would be that you’d be paying less for the insurance since the cost would be split. However, you would need to establish your plan of action if your roommate were to move out for some reason — how would you navigate that?

Have a candid discussion with the person who would be splitting insurance with you, and make sure to express your concerns about making sure you’re both making payments. If the person is very committed to your household and is not planning to move out anytime soon, you could get away with sharing insurance without too much trouble.

Nonetheless, one other downfall of sharing insurance with a housemate, as explained by NerdWallet, is that “your roommate’s insurance claims go on your record, too. For example, if your roommate files a claim for theft, it goes on your personal insurance history even if your possessions weren’t stolen.” This is one reason to set up your own insurance record, as you’ll have control over it.

Furthermore, if you’re trying to split insurance with someone else and one of you has a significantly higher quantity of valuable items than the other, your insurance policy will increase in price proportional to the number of items it needs to cover. This could result in one of you having to pay a lot more money even though you’ve only got a few items you want protected.

Fun Fact: If you were to experience a natural disaster that damaged your home/apartment, most renters insurance actually covers “additional living expenses.” This means you could be reimbursed for the cost of getting a hotel while your residence undergoes repair! (Source: NerdWallet)

Ultimately, the cost of renters insurance outweighs the cost of you having to replace all of your valuable items with your own money, should your electronics and other expensive items become stolen or damaged. If you don’t think you could afford to buy all your items again if they were lost to a thief or ruined in a fire, then you should probably invest in renters insurance.

While many people operate under the assumption that their landlord’s insurance would cover their items, this is usually not the case: “Most landlords’ insurance covers only the building and damages due to negligence,” according to StateFarm.

Renter’s insurance typically costs around $15/month (which could definitely be a financial burden for low-income students). However, if you can afford this at the expense of three or four coffee drinks per month, it’s a wise choice — although some insurances cost closer to $30/month.

Loss prevention is everything when disaster strikes, and college students are not immune. To learn a bit more about the types of insurance plans that are out there, consult this link.

By Julia Dunn

Uloop Writer
I'm Julia, a third-year Literature (Creative Writing: Poetry) and Biology double major at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I am an editor/signer for Chinquapin Literary Magazine (the longest student-run literary magazine at UC Santa Cruz) and 1 of Uloop's 10 National Columnists as well as the Campus Editor for Uloop at UCSC. I am a memoirist, poet, and lover of literature and experimental writing!

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