If you are sending your kids off to college this fall, you might be wondering about insurance. Specifically, insuring all that stuff you bought for your college-bound kid: computer, books, bikes and, in some cases, furniture.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that the average family will spend roughly $900/college student -- on back-to-school supplies alone. If your child is going to live in a dorm, add $126 to that number for furnishings, the NRF says. For a full breakdown of back-to-school costs, see the NRF's slideshow below:


That's a lot of money -- so it's important to protect your kid's possessions against loss.  There are several insurance options for protecting your college student's stuff, and the one you choose depends on where your child goes to school and the type of coverage you're looking for.

Homeowners Insurance

If your child lives in a dorm or other college-owned property, his possessions are typically covered automatically against loss, theft, and damage under your homeowners, condominium, or renter's policies. But coverage often is limited to only 10 percent of the policy's coverage for contents. So if your policy covers contents for $100,000, the limit for your student's stuff would be $10,000.

Another point of consideration: policy deductibles also apply. Deductibles for most homeowners policies typically are at least $500 -- sometimes even $1,000. So you might consider lowering your deductible in order to better protect your child's possessions.

Renters Insurance

If your child lives off-campus, say, in an apartment, your homeowners policy won't provide coverage. But, your student can take out a renters insurance policy. These are fairly inexpensive, generally around $15 to $30 a month. Like homeowners insurance, renters policies come in two basic forms: cash-value policies that cover the value of the item at the time of loss and replacement-value policies that cover the cost of replacing the lost item with a new one. Replacement-value policies cost more, though both types are subject to the coverage limits. As with homeowners policies, some items (such as jewelry) may require extra protection.

Student Insurance

Some insurance companies offer special student policies. The benefit of these specialized policies is their low deductible: sometimes as low as $25. They both have full replacement coverage, so you don't have to worry about depreciation. Policies are priced from less than $100 to several hundred dollars annually, depending on the deductible and type of coverage.  National Student Services offers a lower-cost version of its policy that doesn't cover accidental breakage.

These policies cover students whether they live in a dorm, off-campus housing, or even an apartment abroad (if your child is studying a semester in France, for example). The benefit of a separate student policy is that it's not linked with your homeowner's policy, so you don't have to worry about your insurance going up if a claim is filed.

Talk to your agent to see what's best for you and your college-bound student! You're investing a lot in your child's education, so definitely consider protecting it.


Sources: 1. National Retail Federation | 2. Consumer Reports.
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