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Kristine Lee

Manager, Content and Data

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer. Before joining The Zebra, she was a…

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Renata Balasco

Content Strategist

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Renata joined The Zebra in 2020 as a Customer Experience Agent. Since 2021, she has worked as licensed insurance professional and content strategist.…

Renters insurance and college

The transition from high school to college can be one of the most exciting times of your life, and no doubt, there's bound to be plenty on your mind before you even step foot in your first university class. Between planning your move, making your packing list, and getting your ducks in a row before leaving home, the last thing you might expect is something happening to all that stuff you're moving into your new dorm or off-campus apartment.

However, consider the potential risks of commingling with others in a communal living situation — a fire from a kitchen mishap, harsh weather conditions in a new city, and the general tomfoolery of young people sharing, gathering, and exploring newfound freedoms while living on their own for the first time. Depending on your living situation, an insurance policy can safeguard your personal property — like that expensive new laptop! — from unpredictable disasters and accidents. We can help you determine what kind of policy is right for you and your situation.

College and renters insurance

1. Insurance for on-campus college dorms
2. Insurance for off-campus housing
3. Dorm insurance: do you need it?
4. Does renters insurance cover my roommate?

Insurance for on-campus college dorms

If you're moving into an on-campus dorm, it's possible your parents' existing homeowners or renters insurance might extend to cover your belongings. This may or may not be an automatic coverage feature. If not, it can easily be added — usually at no extra expense. As long as you are named on their policy and are younger the age limit set by the insurance company, your things should be covered by your parents' policy as long as you live in on-campus housing.

Bear in mind, this coverage is not equal to your parents'. While it can vary, your coverage while living in a dorm will be a percentage — usually 10% of your parents' coverage. For example, if your parents' have $100,000 of personal property coverage, you would have $10,000. Discuss with your parents whether this option is available through their own insurance, adjust the policy if needed, and you're all set for dorm life.

Insurance for off-campus housing

You will need your own renters insurance if you move into off-campus housing, as your parents' insurance will not extend to any dwelling that's not a college dorm. The renters insurance you get will be the exact same as any renters insurance policy, even with your student status — providing protections for personal property, liability, and loss of use up to the coverage limits — and will generally be affordable, at an average annual rate of $188. You might need to bolster your renters insurance coverage if you want protection for your more expensive valuables, like electronics.

Though there is no legal mandate requiring renters insurance, your landlord or property manager may require you to get a renters policy before signing the lease. Remember: you can conveniently bundle your renters insurance with auto insurance from the same insurance company, usually at a discount.

Dorm insurance: do you need it?

Some companies that offer renters insurance have specific policies tailored for college dorms, sometimes called college renters insurance or college student insurance. This type of coverage is relatively new and provided by smaller companies which specialize in this coverage. If you live in a dorm but your parents don't have homeowners or renters insurance, it might be a smart idea to look into this option to make sure your possessions are protected.

The cost of dorm insurance is comparable to renters insurance but carries lower deductibles — usually under $100, as opposed to standard renters deductibles of $500 to $1,000. When it comes to insuring your personal belongings, dorm insurance policies tend to be more lax than renters or homeowners policies, usually covering items regardless of the cause of the damage. Below is some coverage options provided by a college student insurance or dorm insurance policy:

  • Cracked screens
  • Spills or liquid submersion
  • Accidental damage (drops)
  • Theft & vandalism
  • Fire, flood, and natural disasters*
  • Damage from power surges such as lightning

*Damage from natural disasters is not covered by any standard homeowners or renters policy and is a unique coverage option.

However, dorm insurance policies generally do not come with liability or medical payments coverage like a renters insurance policy does. Some insurance companies, for additional fees, will let you add liability coverage. The bottom line with dorm insurance, do your research on the company and their claims satisfaction history. 

Does renters insurance cover roommates?

Whether you have renters insurance, dorm insurance, or are covered under your parents' homeowners policy, any roommates you live with are not automatically covered. If you have coverage for your on-campus dorm under your parents' policy, your roommate cannot be added to their policy.

There are two options for your roommate to get covered: either add them to your own renters insurance policy and expect your premium to increase slightly due to this extended coverage, or have your roommate get their own renters policy to cover their own possessions


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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.