Renters Insurance for Students?
February 22, 2006 6:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm a graduate student, living in a graduate dorm, and I need to purchase renters insurance. Which companies are student-friendly, reliable, and affordable?
posted by rockstar to Education (17 answers total)
When I was in your situation, I was able to add a policy for about $20 a month to my car policy. I was living in Oklahoma at the time and using State Farm Insurance.

This assumes you have a car, it is insured, and your insurer provides a variety of policies (not just for auto).
posted by Brittanie at 6:17 PM on February 22, 2006

I echo what Brittanie has said, if you have an auto policy, see if your company offers renter's insurance. I got a discount when I got both insurances together from my insurance company.

Assuming you have parents, they might be able to get a rider on their homeowner's policy for you. Go Hokies.
posted by Fat Guy at 6:26 PM on February 22, 2006

When I was with State Farm for my auto insurance, I checked into a renters policy. Turns out that I would get a 10% discount on my auto if I opened a renters policy. The discount saved me $120 per year, and the renters policy only cost $100 per year. Score!
posted by kimdog at 6:58 PM on February 22, 2006

I'm not a student, but I pay about $90 a year for renters insurance, and I don't think the rate has anything to do with whether I'm a student. (The company is Travelers, and I set it up through Geico because they have a partnership.) I don't have a car, so I don't have auto insurance. I just called insurance companies and asked about rates and coverage. They were all pretty comparable in price. They were also all willing to let me pay per month or twice a year (for a couple of dollars fee per payment). $20 a month seems way high, and I live in a high-crime city (but my apartment has sprinklers, so maybe that knocked off a lot).
posted by Airhen at 6:59 PM on February 22, 2006

In my time at Virginia Tech (what's with all the VTers on MeFi?), I was covered by Travelers. It was $120/year and the coverage was great. Granted, I never needed it for anything, but had I, I would have been in good shape.
posted by waldo at 7:05 PM on February 22, 2006

I was also a State Farm customer when I was renting and adding the rental policy to my car insurance made it cheaper than just having car insurance alone. Then when I needed homeowner's insurance, that was cheaper because I'd had renter's. Car or not, I think SF is pretty affordable.
posted by undertone at 7:08 PM on February 22, 2006

Ours is through Allstate along with our car insurance. Make sure that you get enough coverage - the insurance is so cheap that whether you get $10K or $50K coverage is not going to make a huge difference in your premium. I've known people who only realized after the fire/flood that what they were covered for was a fraction of what it really costs to buy new everything.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:14 PM on February 22, 2006

I had Amica for car insurance and it was actually a lot more difficult to get renter's insurance through them for covering me when I lived in a residence hall (as a post-graduate professional staff member) because of higher risk of fire and flood. They finally covered me when I told them they'd covered me before at previous institutions, but be prepared to fight a little for it.
posted by cajo at 7:38 PM on February 22, 2006

Does the University offer insurance deals to students who are also employees? Are the graduate student TA's unionized? Maybe you could get a good deal through one of those.

At any rate like most of the others I've always had renter's insurance from whomever I had car insurance. First AAA, then Nationwide, now Allstate. I never had any problems, though I've never had to make a claim either.

Unionized? Is that the right word?
posted by sevenless at 10:08 PM on February 22, 2006

Cheap is good, but you still want to go with a decent company. Stick with companies you have heard of like Allstate, State Farm, Farmers, Geico, etc.. God forbid you should need to make a claim on this policy, but if Something Terrible Happens, your posessions are worth more than the premiums.
posted by ilsa at 10:39 PM on February 22, 2006

I'm a little late to the party, but I highly recommend Safeco. I used them for many years when I was a student. In 2002, my car was broken into and my backpack (with laptop, cell phone, etc) was stolen. Safeco was a true pleasure to deal with (yes, my renters insurance covered the car contents!) and cut a check for me within a week.
posted by picklebird at 6:47 AM on February 23, 2006

Another vote for Travelers for providing a lot of coverage for very little money, and being friendly and helpful. I've used them for 11 years. $120/year is probably about right. They're going to want to know how far away the closest fire station is and whether you have smoke alarms, two things that significantly lower your premium.

They've been around since 1865 and are well-known in the industry. I remember the big calendars they used to send to their homeowner's insurance customers, including my grandparents.
posted by desuetude at 6:48 AM on February 23, 2006

If you served in the military, or are a former dependent of someone who served in the military, you are eligible for renter's insurance through USAA. I applied online and pay $12 a month for a lot of coverage.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:46 AM on February 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

I second USAA, which has great customer service, an easy online interface, and competitive pricing for all sorts of banking and insurance. The only downside is, as ThePinkSuperhero pointed out, that you can only become a member through someone who signs up for USAA while a member of the military.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 9:01 AM on February 23, 2006

Slightly off point, but three things that affect the rate are (a) the maximum; (b) the deductible; and (c) whether the insurance is for replacement cost or for actual value.

As noted above, (a) probably doesn't affect your cost much; don't skimp.

For (b), it's surprising how raising the deductible can cut your costs. Of course, you need to be ready to absorb the $500 or whatever hit if you do have a claim.

For (c), you might consider this a deal-breaker. If you DON'T get replacement insurance, then you'll not get enough money to buy new stuff to replace what you lost. (For example, the $30 shirt was two years old, so it's "actual value" is $10, after depreciation, so you'd need to put out $20 yourself UNLESS you had replacement insurance.)

Finally, be careful that computers and other high-value items (you're unlikely to have expensive jewelry, but's that a typical issue with homeowners) aren't limited as far as insurance payouts. If they are - which is common - you need to pay a small amount for a "rider" that covers more expensive stuff (essentially overrides the normal exception).
posted by WestCoaster at 10:53 AM on February 23, 2006

Cheap is good, but you still want to go with a decent company. Stick with companies you have heard of like Allstate, State Farm, Farmers, Geico, etc.

A better metric than "companies you've heard of" is what their rating is. (You've heard of Geico, after all, but they're horrible.) You want an insurance company that's rated A+ or better by AM Best.
posted by waldo at 12:24 PM on February 23, 2006

Do your parents have homeowners insurance? My things are covered under their policy up to something like $60,000
posted by radioamy at 3:09 PM on February 26, 2006

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