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If a theft occurred at my child's college, is it covered under my home insurance?

The answer depends on where your child lives. If your son or daughter is a full-time student and lives on campus, a theft would be covered under your home insurance policy.

However, if your son or daughter lives in an apartment off-campus, then your child would need renters insurance. Whether coverage is through home insurance or renters insurance, a deductible would apply.

Insurance is an important, and often overlooked, issue for children who go away to college. Although standard home insurance policies provide some coverage for dependents living on campus, the amounts are limited. Some home insurance policies cap the amount of insurance for off-premises belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal possessions, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).

Say, for instance, your home insurance provided $70,000 of coverage for belongings. In that case, only $7,000 of coverage would apply to possessions in your child's dorm room. There also may be coverage limits for an expensive computer and electronic equipment and items such as jewelry.

If the limits on a standard home insurance policy are too low, then you might want to consider a special personal property floater or an endorsement, or stand-alone insurance for items like computers or cell phones, the III says.

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive and would cover your child's belongings in an apartment off-campus and provide liability coverage. Some insurance companies allow roommates to share a renters policy and the premiums. Take a complete inventory of your child's belongings to determine how much coverage is needed.

For more, see proper insurance coverage for college-bound children and the basics of renters insurance.

Last updated: Dec. 28, 2010