Students bringing pricier possessions to campus may need insurance

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By NICK KIPPER
Capital News Service

LANSING – As college students across the state move into new campus homes, they’re increasingly bringing with them flat screen televisions, smartphones, laptops and other valuables.

“We do see students bringing more items of significant value to campus,” said Kathleen Gardner, the director of the Office of Residence Life at Central Michigan University. “It’s a good idea to make sure all the things that help them with classes and make their space feel more like a home are secure.”

That may mean they need renters insurance to protect them from theft, university and insurance experts say.

At CMU, new and returning students are reminded during dorm check-in that the university is not liable for lost or stolen personal items, Gardner said. That’s true for most universities.

Students are encouraged to have insurance coverage for their personal belongings, but it depends on the situation, said Bryan Austin, the assistant director of Residence Life at Western Michigan University.

Students living in university-owned apartments which have more room for possessions are especially recommended to have insurance, Austin said.

Most homeowners insurance policies travel with a student if they’re listed as a dependent on their parents’ plan, but usually only if they reside in a dorm, said Pete Kuhnmuench, the executive director & chief operating officer at the Insurance Alliance of Michigan. The trade association’s members represent most of Michigan’s sellers of homeowners and renters insurance. But many students may not be covered by their parents’ policies.

“The vast number of people that end up in off-campus housing are somehow or another not dependent on their parents, and wouldn’t have that relationship,” Kuhnmuench said. “Once people are off-campus they are more likely to be liberated from their parents’ support.

“It’s now seen as a brand new risk instead of an extension of one.”

Students not covered by the policies of their parents should seek out quotes from multiple providers, Kuhnmuench said. Renters insurance plans can vary depending on the company, amount of liability coverage needed, and the deductible.  

CMU is among 2,000 universities nationwide that endorses National Student Services Inc.. the largest provider of personal property insurance for college students, Gardner said.

One-year plans range from $9 per month to $26 per month, depending on the coverage needed.

“The college environment is much more casual than what you’re living with at home,” Kuhnmuench said. “You’ve got people stopping by all the time and people tend to get relaxed about locking their doors or leaving it open for a friend.

“It’s a little bit different risk so you have to balance the risk you’re exposed to.”