My son will be starting college in the fall. Does my
homeowners insurance cover his belongings while he's at school?
Also, what happens to his car insurance?
If your son lives in a dorm, then your homeowners insurance
should cover his property, up to a certain limit. Allstate, for
example, will extend 10% of your home's total contents coverage to
dorm-room possessions. Allstate's policies typically cover
possessions in your own home up to 70% of the dwelling coverage. So
if you have a $100,000 policy, it will cover up to $100,000 for the
building and $70,000 for possessions. In that case, you'd have
$7,000 in possessions' coverage for your son's dorm room.
The rules vary from company to company, so ask your insurer
about its limits and add up the value of your son's stuff to see if
you have sufficient coverage. If your son has a particularly
valuable computer or stereo system, you may need to boost the
Your homeowners-insurance policy, however, will likely not cover
your son's possessions if he lives in an off-campus apartment. In
that case, he would need to buy a separate renters policy. The
average renters policy costs about $16 per month ($192 per year)
and provides about $30,000 worth of coverage for possessions and
$100,000 of liability coverage.
Because your son is going away to school, you may be able to
save some money on auto-insurance premiums. If his college is at
least 100 or 150 miles away and he leaves the car at home, the
insurer could rate him "restricted," which reduces your rates but
still provides coverage when he comes home to visit or if he drives
someone else's car that has lower coverage limits, says Raleigh
Floyd, an Allstate spokesperson. "We don't recommend taking
children off or excluding them from the policy while away at school
unless they are no longer dependents and no longer in the
household," he says.
If he takes a car with him, the premiums may rise or fall,
depending on the location of the school (assuming the car is at
school for at least 30 consecutive days). If the college is in,
say, a high-risk area, your premiums will probably rise. Keep your
child on your own policy rather than trying to get a separate
policy because he may benefit from multicar or multipolicy
discounts, as well as any breaks you've accumulated for being a
Keep in mind, too, that the insurer's good-student discount may
apply. Many insurers will give you a price break if your child
maintains at least a B average in college.