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If my daughter is at college and she rents an apartment, will my home insurance cover her liability and property?

No, she needs to buy renters insurance. Your home insurance would cover her belongings only if she lived in a dorm on campus. If she changes her mind and decides to live on campus, check your home insurance policy limits for off-premises belongings to make sure it's enough to cover all her belongings, especially if she has expensive electronics, as most college students today do. Consider a personal property endorsement or floater if the coverage is too low.

It’s a good idea to invest in renters insurance if she lives off campus. This insurance is affordable and provides liability protection and coverage for her belongings in case of theft, fire and other perils. (Like standard home insurance, renters insurance does not provide coverage in the event of a flood or earthquake.) Check the policy language to make sure you understand the coverage as it applies to your daughter's living situation. For instance, policies won't cover stolen property if she had not spent some time in the apartment in the 60 days prior to the theft.

If she has a roommate, you might be able to get a policy to cover both, with your daughter and the roommate sharing the premium.

Take a good inventory of your daughter's belongings to make sure you get enough coverage. Write down items, including serial numbers, and video tape everything, including items inside drawers and closets.

Understand the difference between coverage for replacement cost and actual cash value of items. Replacement cost coverage pays you for full cost of what you paid for that item. Actual cash value takes depreciation into account and pays only for what the item was worth at the time of the loss.

Just like your home insurance policy, the premium for renters insurance depends on a variety of factors, including where your daughter lives, the deductible, the insurance company and whether your daughter needs additional coverage.

Learn more about proper insurance coverage for college-bound children and the basics of renters insurance.

Last updated: Sep. 23, 2010