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Living away from home: top insurance tips parents and students need to know

September 16, 2010

This month, thousands of students across Canada left home to attend college, university and other educational institutions. Many will be living on their own for the first time, taking with them laptop computers, wireless devices, electronic equipment, clothing, books, furniture and more.

When we talk about home or contents insurance, many people think it is only necessary to protect their possessions. But there are other residential responsibilities and liabilities of which parents and students should be aware. This list outlines the important points you as a parent need to know about insurance protection.

Check coverage under your home policy

Most schools do not cover the tenant’s insurance for students living in residence. That means it is up to you to purchase the proper insurance coverage for the student in your family. Some home policies include coverage in the range of $2500 or higher while a child is attending university, so checking your policy is a good place to start. In some provinces you may have to pay a liability extension fee of about $20 or $30 on your policy. You can confirm this by contacting your insurance professional.

The importance of liability insurance

When considering renter’s or tenant’s insurance, many people think about protecting themselves against theft or damage to personal property. But liability insurance is very important-there could be a fire, flood or a personal injury accident. For example, if someone falls and breaks their arm at the student’s place of residence or the dwelling is damaged, the student could be held financially responsible or sued. All tenant insurance policies include liability coverage.

The cost of a renter’s policy typically varies between $200 to $400 per year for $20,000 of contents insurance, plus $1 million in liability coverage. When you consider the cost of courses and textbooks, this is a small price to pay to protect your child’s belongings-and his or her financial future.

All roommates require their own insurance

If the student is sharing a home with multiple people, it is a good idea to contact a licensed insurance professional for advice about the insurance options available to you. They can help you find the coverage that’s right for your child’s specific situation.
It is also important to ensure that all roommates sharing the property have their own insurance coverage and that everyone is named on the lease. You don’t want your child to be the only person listed on the lease because in the case of injury or damage, he or she will be held liable.

Types of insurance policies

If you haven’t already purchased an insurance policy for the student in your family, the good news is you can still obtain coverage. There are different levels of protection, depending on your individual needs. For further information on policy types, please see our article on “Key questions to ask when shopping for home insurance”.