Back to School Shopping (for Insurance)

One of the questions that home insurance brokers are most frequently asked in August and September is how a parent can get insurance coverage for a child going away to university. Whether the student is going to school in B.C. or another province, living in dorms or off-campus, finding them insurance is usually easier than you think!

If you are looking for insurance coverage for a child moving out of your home while they go to school, start with your own residential insurance policy. Standard homeowner, condo unit owner, and tenant insurance policies automatically include coverage for students, wherever in the world their school, college or university is located, subject to the following requirements:

  1. The student must be enrolled in and “actually attend” the school. (E.g. Hanging out in Kingston for the scenery isn’t enough – you have to actually go to class!)
  2. The student must be dependent on the person named on the policy for support and maintenance.

Often, parents seek coverage for their university-bound children because the student’s landlord requires it. Typically, landlords require tenants to have insurance for the liability coverage it provides, which helps protect landlords should a lawsuit arise from the tenant’s occupancy and use of the house or apartment. A student who actually attends a university, and is dependent upon their parent for support has access to the personal liability coverage on the parent’s policy. This worldwide protection provides the student with coverage for their legal liability for bodily injury to others and damage to others’ property. A landlord may accept the parent’s policy as proof of the student’s insurance, or may require a letter from the parent’s broker confirming coverage for the student under the parent’s policy.

Parents’ policies cover more than just liability, though. (Good news? In insurance? Yes, it’s true.)

Through their parent’s policy, students also get coverage for their personal property (contents), including their laptops and schoolbooks.

The catch?

Some policies provide coverage for students’ contents at a limit lower than what is covered for the parent (e.g. $25,000).

Additionally, since the student’s coverage is an extension of the parent’s policy, the same coverages and exclusions apply. Which means:

  1. If the parent’s policy excludes damage caused by earthquake, the student’s policy would too.
  2. If the parent’s policy has a coverage limit of $2,000 per bicycle, the student’s bicycle would only be covered up to $2,000.

Should your child require more than the included limit, or coverages different than yours, they may need to purchase their own tenant insurance policy (note: this can be challenging if they live with multiple roommates). However, the included contents and liability coverages will protect them until they find their own policy, whether they live on- or off- campus.

Usually, the automatic coverage through a parent’s policy is enough for a student while they are away at school. So, this year, when preparing for back-to-school, contact your home insurance broker to see how your child is covered while at university, and take a few minutes to review your coverages and exclusions to ensure you understand what you and your child are covered for. (A child living independently for the first time may also signal a need to increase your coverage limits, particularly liability.)

Sending a child off to school can be a stressful and expensive time, but finding them insurance doesn’t have to be!

For more information, click here to see the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s top ten reasons for students to purchase tenant’s insurance.

-Morgan Thomas, BA
Administration Coordinator & Personal Insurance Trainer