Are you a student, or the parent of a student, heading to college or university away from the family home? If so it is important to carefully consider the new risks involved with occupying a student dorm, apartment or other accomodations.
Although the value of a student's personal property may not be substantial, often with inexpensive furnishings, it could still cause financial hardship if everything or even some of it was destroyed or stolen. Consider the higher value items typical of many students - computers, laptops, musical instruments, printers, PDAs, TVs and other other electronics (and hopefully some books) - their loss could be very expensive.
Along with the potential for loss of their property, a student suddenly faced with immense "adult" responsibilities faces other risks from their legal liability for injury to others or damage to property. A pedestrian hit while out cycling or a guest injured on their premises may sue for damages. A stove or tap left on could result in property damage to others they would be responsible for. When it comes to liability and the nature of humans, the causes of loss are endless.
The simple solution is to make sure there is proper insurance in place. This would typically be a separate "tenants or renters" type insurance package generally available for under $25 monthly. A careful check of the family's home insurance policy or discussion with their broker might also set everyone's mind at ease if the policy automatically includes coverage for the student while temporarily away at school, as many do.
Student Beware! Sharing accommodations often results in living with others who might not be well known. It is one of life's sad realities that there is potential, however remote, to be sharing your home with a dishonest or extremely careless roomate. Aside from the liability potential of being accused of or sued for something done by someone else, if property is stolen by someone else living with the student it is not insured. This might be trivial if it's a few missing pieces of clothing but coming home to an apartment cleared of all the electronics could be devastating - "Know thy neighbour".
Carefully consider how the insurance is arranged and whose name(s) are going on the lease as they are held ultimately responsible for the premises. If being shared by several thought should be given to having all names included on the lease and all properly insured.
Insurers may limit the number of named insureds under a tenants policy to 2 if they are unrelated. If there are several students sharing a home it may be necessary to have 2-3 different insurance policies or at least confirmation that the family home insurance policy covers each.
As in all situations it is important to know and understand your risks, what you are insured for, and what you are not insured for.