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Dorm insurance: Property protection for college students

An expert weighs in on dorm insurance and

An expert weighs in on dorm insurance and if your college student needs it this year. Credit: iStock

Q. What is dorm insurance? Does my college student need it?

A. What's commonly referred to as "dorm insurance" is technically a personal property protection plan designed for college students to cover the contents that they bring from home. It can be purchased to cover a student living in a dorm, in an off-campus apartment that's not owned by the university or even studying abroad. It typically covers theft, fire, flooding and even accidental damage to items including laptops, musical instruments, smartphones and textbooks. It covers the items whether the incident occurs in the dorm room or elsewhere on campus.

While the contents of a student's dormitory room may be covered by the parents' homeowner's insurance, those policies may require a heftier deductible. Student insurance policies typically cover from $2,000 to $10,000 of property with deductibles of $25, $50 or $100.

"A lot of times parents will call and say, 'I've never heard of this.' This policy is really designed for college life," says Yubi Alvarez, marketing manager for Georgia-based Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a brokerage that sells Allianz, formerly known as College Student Insurance. "Most people, they're really interested in the electronics being insured because they are so expensive and so fragile."

A variety of companies sell this type of insurance. National Student Services Inc., for instance, charges $79 for an annual policy that covers up to $2,000 of property at replacement value with a deductible of $25, says Olivia Montell, marketing manager for the Oklahoma-based company. "We work with thousands of colleges and universities all over the United States," she says.

Liability insurance can be added for an additional fee to cover damage to the physical structure and bodily injury to a third party, which can be advisable for students living off-campus in an apartment, Alvarez says.

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