The Homeowners Policy & College Students

QUESTION:  “Is a computer provided by my daughter’s school for use while she is attending college covered for theft out of her locked room while she is out of the room”?


Toward the end of the school year, someone came through her suite-mate’s room, through the bathroom, and into my daughter’s room and stole the computer she had signed out to her by the school.  I just received a letter from the school stating that she had to pay $1,600 before she would be allowed to return to school.  Does my homeowner’s insurance pay for such a loss? 

Clearly, this is a covered loss under most standard homeowners policies.  Be aware that insurance companies do not all use the same insurance forms.  That is why it can be foolhardy to purchase insurance over the internet without the professional counsel of a qualified insurance agent who can properly match your exposure with the best policy and price available to fit your needs.

Most homeowners policies cover any personal property “owned OR USED” by an insured it it is damaged or lost due to a covered peril.  The student was certainly using the property and theft is a covered peril.  The term “insured” includes a resident relative, and courts have determined consistently that a dependent child away at school is still a resident of the named insured’s household.

There is, however, one limitation that does apply.  For personal property “usually located at” an insured’s “residence” other than the residence premises, only 10% of the policy’s contents coverage is available for losses.  In this case, 10% of the contents limit is more than adequate for the loss of the computer.  Of course, there is a deductible to contend with, typically $250 – $500.

In addition, policy conditions require that theft losses be reported to the police.  Although “police” is not defined, it is presumable that notice to the campus police would suffice.  That being done, this appears to be a clearly covered claim.

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