Life Happens - Be Prepared with Insurance

November 5, 2013

Insurance?  What for?  You’re invincible, right?  If you were to take inventory of all your clothes, your room furnishings, your electronics (e.g. phone, computer), jewelry, or any other possessions, could you afford to replace them if they were stolen or damaged? Life happens to all of us, so read on.   

If you would face hardship with the loss of your possessions, you may wish to consider making the investment in student property insurance or rental insurance (if you live live/rent off campus).  Considering the relatively low cost of premiums and the fact that you can possibly share rental insurance premium costs with roommates, it’s an even more realistic safety net than you might think.  Some students can get a more affordable policy by doing business for other insurance needs with the same agent/carrier (e.g. loyalty discount) or you might be able to increase your deductible to save on policy costs.  What is a deductible anyway?  If you were to submit a claim for lost or damaged items, you are responsible for the portion of the covered loss that is equal to your deductible.  For example, a $500 deductible on personal property insurance policy that covers the replacement of a $1,500 stolen MacBook would cost you $500.  If you can pay the entire annual premium all at once instead of installments, there is often a cost savings here, too.     

Most renters’ possessions are NOT covered by a landlord’s policy.  Some exceptions to this include if your landlord’s negligence was the direct cause of your misfortune/loss, but even this might have to be proven in a court.  Most landlords require you to have renters insurance just for their peace of mind and yours.   

So, if your investment at Brown includes you living away from home with personal property you are recommended to research whether your replacement cost of lost or damaged items exceeds the peace of mind and cost of a policy or protection.  You should also be aware that Brown University does not provide any insurance coverage for personal items.  Consider:  

1)      Check your parents’/guardian homeowner’s policy to see if personal property away from home (such as yours at college) is covered or not.  If so, check to see if coverage applies to damage caused by flood, fire, or theft. 

2)      If you are not covered under a homeowner’s policy, then consider personal property and/or renters insurance.  The Office of Insurance and Risk provides additional information on property insurance that caters to Brown students. 

3)      Regardless of your insurance decision, you can still minimize the risk of theft or loss of your belongings or identity in the first place.  For example, do you back up your data?  Lock up your computer if you leave your room?   Do you have an inventory of all of your belongings somewhere?  Do you know their value or serial numbers? (E.g. property?) The Department of Public Safety here at Brown provides some fantastic loss prevention tips that can help you protect your valuables/belongings.   

4)      Think about the value of investing in manufacturer warranty extensions or replacement policies, especially for any “mission critical” electronics and the time period that you must rely on them.   Compare these costs with the cost of new equipment; you may find it more cost effective to buy a new item when disaster strikes, provided you are prepared with a backup of old data.