Renters Insurance for College Students

While not required by most colleges and universities, renters insurance is your secret weapon for protecting your stuff and enjoying campus life without fretting over mishaps.

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Kristine Lee

Insurance Analyst

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty
  • 4+ years of Experience in the Insurance Industry

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

Senior 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.…

Do college students need renters insurance?

Yes! Think about it: your laptop, textbooks, and those cherished belongings – they're valuable, right? Renters insurance has your back if they're ever damaged or stolen, whether you're in a dorm, your car, or off-campus.

Plus, as one of The Zebra's licensed insurance sales managers Brittany Jinnette notes, "For most college students, renters insurance is as cheap if not cheaper than Netflix." However, whether students should get their own policy depends upon their unique situation. Let's dive in.

Key Takeaways

  • Renters insurance is necessary to protect students' belongings, liability, and peace of mind.
  • Students living in dorms can simply be added to their parent's home or renters policy or opt for dorm-specific insurance.
  • Off-campus students must get their own renters policy.
  • While The Zebra recommends comparing quotes from multiple companies, we find Lemonade renters insurance ($5-$10/mo) a great fit for most students.
  • Unrelated or unmarried roommates sharing a renters policy is a bad idea and not allowed by most insurers.

What students can expect renters insurance to cover

Renters insurance covers your personal belongings, offers liability protection, pays for injuries, and covers temporary living expenses if your rented space becomes unlivable. Read the details below.

personal property in the form of shoes and a computer
Personal property

That's your laptop, phone, clothes, and all your gear. If they're stolen or damaged (like in a fire, flood, or car break-in), renters insurance helps you replace them.

Not usually covered: high-value items (unless otherwise specified), damage related to natural disasters or water, intentional damage, damage to the rented space

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Liability coverage

This covers medical and legal expenses if you accidentally cause damage to someone else's property or they are injured while visiting your dorm, house, or apartment and you are found at fault. 

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Medical payments

If someone gets hurt on your turf, medical payments coverage pays for their medical bills up to a specified dollar amount. This differs from liability coverage in that guests in your rented space are covered regardless of whether you are at fault for their injuries.

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Additional living expenses

If your college pad becomes unlivable, say, due to a plumbing disaster, it covers the cost of staying somewhere else, like a hotel, transportation and – sometimes – meals, until things get sorted.

The best renters insurance for college students

When it comes to finding the best insurance for college students, the best company for you will vary depending on your unique circumstances. Comparing quotes is key to finding the best deal for your individual needs.

Luckily, The Zebra's in-house agency has made what was once a time-consuming ordeal a streamlined process where we do the searching, you do the saving.

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Connect with a friendly licensed agent at 1-888-255-4364

If you prefer to get a quote online, The Zebra recommends snagging one from our friends at Lemonade. Unlike The Zebra's Insurance Agency, Lemonade does not compare quotes from multiple companies. However, we recommend Lemonade as an excellent solution for most college renters.

What makes Lemonade great for college students:

 Quotes in under two minutes

✓ Average cost of $5-$10 per month

 Easy-to-use mobile app

✓ Highly customizable policies

✓ Availability in 29 states

 Easy-to-add "Extra Coverage" for valuables

 Parents easily added to policy alerts

✓ Quick app-based claims

 Option to bundle in some states


Want to experience the Lemonade difference for yourself? Click below to get your quick and easy quote, and start enjoying the convenience of tech-driven insurance tailored for the busy college life.

Need a Renters Insurance Quote?

How much renters insurance do college students need?

When it comes to how much renters insurance college students need, it often depends on the value of their stuff. We recommend going through the four-step process below:

  1. Start by taking an inventory of your belongings. Things like electronics, clothes, furniture, bicycles, and any other valuables.
  2. Estimate how much it would cost to replace all those items with new ones at today's prices. That's the amount of personal property coverage you should aim for. If between coverage levels, always round up to the higher one.
  3. Note any pricier items and check that they don't exceed your policy's sub-limits. Sublimits are like a mini-limit within your policy that sets a maximum amount the insurance company will pay for a specific category (e.g. jewelry, electronics).
  4. Add a scheduled endorsement (aka a rider) for any items that exceed these sub-limits. Certain pieces of jewelry, racing bikes, premium designer handbags, cameras, custom gaming computers, and musical instruments often fall into this category.

Do students need renters insurance for on-campus housing?

The Zebra recommends students living in dorms add themselves to their parents' home or renters insurance policies. These policies typically extend to cover children away at school. Just keep in mind that this will not be equal to your parents' coverage: 10% of their personal property coverage is the most common amount.

For example, if your parents have $100,000 in personal property coverage, you would only have $10,000.


Dorm insurance: do you need it?

While most parents' renters and home insurance extend to their children's dorms, some may not have that option. Dorm insurance, also known as "college renters insurance" or "college student insurance," provides a solution for such students. It works similarly to renters insurance, with some key differences.

zebra answering renters insurance questions

Q: How do I add myself to my parents' policy?

A: Have your parents contact their insurer. They'll need your name, birthdate, and contact details.

Pro tip: To be on the safe side, have them ask for written confirmation of your inclusion, including your coverage amount and any additional costs.

How dorm insurance differs from renters insurance:

  • Dorm insurance usually only covers your possessions. But, for extra fees, some insurers offer options like tuition insurance (for unexpected withdrawals) and liability coverage.
  • Items are often covered regardless of the cause of damage. Standard homeowners or renters insurance policies typically don't cover damage caused by natural disasters, water, or accidents. However, many dorm insurance policies specifically cover cracked screens, spills, accidental drops, theft, vandalism, fire, floods, natural disasters, and power surges from lightning.
  • Lower deductibles. Renters insurance deductibles are usually $500 or $1,000. Dorm insurance deductibles are typically closer to $100.
  • Cost. Usually, dorm insurance is around the same or less than renters insurance.

Which companies offer dorm-specific insurance?

Dorm insurance is a relatively new coverage provided by smaller specialist companies. Interested students should check with university housing to see if they are affiliated with a particular insurer or get a quote from at least two of the companies below:

  • Grad Guard. Rates range from just over $100 to $300 with a standard $100 deductible. You can also add on their tuition insurance which covers costs related to illness, injury, or mental health concerns.
  • Gallagher. Rates are often between $100 and $200 per year depending upon the coverage level and deductible.
  • NSSI. Rates range from $90 to just under $300 per year depending upon your chosen coverage amount ($2K-$10K) and whether you choose a $50 or $100 deductible.
Renters insurance

Q: As a college student living at home, should I get renters insurance or rely on my parents' coverage?

A: It depends. While living at home, you might be covered by your parents' insurance, but any claims filed could impact their rates. Some parents make having your own renters policy a condition of living at home. However, it's ultimately a decision for you and your folks to discuss and figure out what's best for you.

Do students need renters insurance for off-campus apartments or houses?

If you are a student living off-campus, you will need to have your own policy for off-campus housing because your parent's home or renters insurance won't typically cover it. Plus, most landlords will ask for proof of renters insurance before finalizing the lease agreement despite it not being legally required.

Your off-campus housing policy will likely be a generic renters policy and should cover personal property, liability, and loss of use up to the coverage limits.

Renters insurance costs the typical person $19 per month, but many companies like Lemonade average significantly less. Some parents let their children manage this expense as it allows them to learn financial responsibility without breaking the bank.

Brittany Jinnette, licensed insurance agent and agency sales manager at The Zebra
Agent insight: What happens if I move or sublease my apartment?

"If you change apartments, just call and we'll do a quick rewrite. Rates may change slightly based on location and risk. If you sublease or sublet, consider keeping renters insurance for liability until the lease ends. However, you can lower your personal property coverage if you move your belongings out while subletting. The new tenant must get their own policy."

Brittany Jinnette — Licensed insurance professional at The Zebra

student moving into dorm and glad he's covered by his parents renters insurance

Zebra Tip: Save money by bundling your renters and auto insurance

Bundling renters and auto insurance can save students around $79 per year. Below, see which companies offer the cheapest car and renters insurance bundle, the largest bundling discount, and who renters rated best for online experience, claims and customer satisfaction, ease of use, trust, and willingness to recommend.

Read more about bundling renters and auto insurance here.

How students can save on renters insurance

In addition to bundling, students can save on renters insurance by opting for the highest deductible they can afford, asking about discounts, and comparing rates from multiple companies. Read the details below.

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Choose the highest deductible you can afford

Increasing your deductible can substantially reduce your rate. Just make sure you have the savings to handle the higher deductible in case of a claim.

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Ask about discounts

Common discounts students should ask about include good student discounts, multi-policy (bundling) discounts, security systems discounts, and paid-in-full discounts. Read more about popular renters insurance discounts here.

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Compare renters insurance quotes from multiple companies

Insurance companies charge different prices because each has its unique way of evaluating rating factors. Comparing quotes is key to finding the best deal for your individual needs.

Connect with one of our knowledgeable agents at 1-888-255-4364 or learn more about The Zebra's Insurance Agency here.

Does renters insurance cover roommates?

Your roommates aren't automatically covered, whether you have renters insurance, dorm insurance, or coverage under your parents' homeowners or renters policy. In fact, most companies and some states won't let non-relatives share a renters policy unless they are married.

The best approach for college students is for each roommate to have their own policy, ensuring protection and peace of mind while avoiding unnecessary conflict.

Why sharing renters insurance is a bad idea for college roommates

College life can be stressful. Disputes over claims, coverage, or financial responsibilities can strain relationships among roommates during an already demanding time. Read some of the reasons The Zebra considers sharing renters insurance a bad idea for college roommates.

  • Personal property confusion: College roommates often have distinct personal belongings. Sharing a policy may lead to confusion and disputes over ownership, particularly in a shared living space.
  • Liability ambiguity: In college, accidents can happen. Sharing a policy might make it challenging to determine responsibility in case of damage or injuries between roommates.
  • Diverse coverage needs: College students have varying levels of personal property value. Sharing a policy may result in some roommates being over-insured while others are under-insured. Additionall, it can be difficult to decide how to split the premium.
  • Shared claim impact: If one roommate files a claim, it can affect the policy's claims history, leading to increased premiums for all roommates, even those not involved in the claim.
  • Dynamic living arrangements: Sharing a policy can become complex if a roommate moves out or if new roommates as the policy must be updated with each change.
  • Privacy concerns: Sharing a renters insurance policy may require roommates to share personal information and financial details, which could raise privacy concerns and potential conflicts.

Frequently asked questions

It depends. Students can check with the college's housing office to see if it is a requirement and if so, if it's included in student housing costs.

No. Students staying in dorms will need to have their parents add them to their policy and confirm the additional costs and coverage amount. Students living off-campus will need to get their own policy.

Most companies and some states won't let unmarried or unrelated roommates share a renters policy. Not only can it complicate filing and receiving payouts for claims, but the dynamic nature of college living arrangements (like new roommates and living situations each year) creates additional challenges.

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 editorial 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.