Can I get insurance for my dorm room?

Students in dorms can, and should, buy insurance


Laptops are a prime theft target for dorm thieves. (Photo courtesy of Ljsusl5, via Wikimedia Commons)

Can college students get insurance for their dorm? That’s a very good question. College students take a lot of expensive items with them to school — laptops, smartphones, clothes, TVs, etc.

Chances are, your dorm room will have several thousands of dollars worth of electronics alone — and we haven’t even talked about the value of your pricey textbooks.

Yet, a lot of people don’t insure the contents of their dorm rooms.

That’s a big mistake.

Dorms are notorious for theft because there are so many people living on the same floor, and in the same building, and many of them will be strangers. Guests, too, swarm the dorms to visit friends.

Fires are also more common in dorms. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that there are about 3,800 fires a year in U.S. university residence halls. Most of the fires are caused by cooking (generally with a hot plate, microwave or portable grill), and the fires peak in September and October — just after students return to the dorms.

The average property loss for each fire that breaks out is about $14,500, FEMA estimates.


Two ways to protect your stuff at college

There are two ways you can use insurance to protect your belongings while living in the dorm:

Use your parents’ insurance policy: Some insurers will allow your parents to extend their homeowners policy in order to provide you coverage. This is a cheap —sometimes free — option, but it comes with downsides. First, you’re much more likely than your parents to need to file a claim, and any claims you file could make your parents’ policy more expensive. Second, homeowner’s policies usually have higher deductibles — $500 to $1,000 per claim — so unless your dorm is completely wiped out by a thief or fire, it may not make any sense to file a claim. If your $1,000 laptop is stolen and your policy has a $1,000 deductible then you’re not getting any money to help replace it.

Get a renter’s insurance policy: Renter’s insurance can cost as little as $10 to $20 a month and should offer you the coverage you need with much lower deductibles — think $25 instead of $1,000. That way, if someone walks off with your MacBook, you should get the money you’ll need to buy a new one.

To learn more about protecting your property — whether you’re living in an NYU dorm or a Park Avenue condo — give Gotham Brokerage a call at [telnumlink]212-406-7300[/telnumlink]. We’ve been helping New Yorkers find great insurance policies for 50 years.



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