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Your Homeowners Policy Goes Off To College

If you’re having a hard time saying good bye to your college-bound son or daughter, you may find some reassurance in the fact that your homeowners insurance policy may extend protection to your child even while they are living under another roof.

Many homeowners are surprised to find that their home insurance policy provides coverage for family members living elsewhere. There are, of course, some exclusions, so it’s important to understand what is truly covered and what is not.

While coverage can vary from policy to policy, most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for covered family members living at a residential premises other than the primary insured’s residence- AKA a college dorm or apartment.

Typically, to extend the coverage to a student he/she must still be considered a covered family member of the household. This usually means the parents are providing at least half of the child’s financial support. In this case, they would be extended two types of coverage: personal property and personal liability.

Personal property coverage protects your personal possessions in the event of a covered loss such as theft or damage caused by a covered peril. This coverage includes items often taken away to college such as high value items like electronics and jewelry. Both are commonly subject to theft in both on- and off-campus environments.

While computers are now required for students by most colleges, it’s usually best to advise your college student to leave other expensive items (such as jewelry) at home to prevent the possibility of loss in the first place.

Personal liability coverage on a homeowners policy is also extended to students who are away at school and still financially dependent on their parents. Liability protection on a homeowners policy protects homeowners’ finances in the event they are presented with a lawsuit. Therefore, if your college student causes bodily injury or property damage to another person while away at college and a lawsuit is presented against them, your policy would most likely help pay for associated legal defense fees and court costs.

There are exclusions to every policy, however, and it’s important to know the exclusions that could apply in this scenario.

For example, if your child is taking time off from school or staying over the summer and not attending classes, some homeowners insurers might deny any claims for them while they are living away from home.

Also, when it comes to personal liability there are some exclusions that involve scenarios where college students are involved in posting unflattering pictures on social media, “sexting”, cyber-bullying, etc.  A lawsuit presented to a college student responsible for committing this type of act may be denied as the insurer will most likely say that this behavior was intentional and therefore excluded from personal liability coverage completely.

The best way to understand what type of coverage you have for your college student under your homeowners insurance policy is to ask your agent about the specifics of your own policy. Hopefully you’ll never need to use it, but in the event you do- it’s best to know ahead of time what is covered.

Today’s guest article is provided by Carrie Wile. She currently serves as the Director of Marketing for HomeInsurance.com and enjoys sharing her knowledge of the insurance industry with others.

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