Can you (and should you) insure your university residence?

By: Zandile Chiwanza on February 14, 2020
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If you’re a university student planning to live on residence there might be something missing from your dormitory checklist  — renters insurance.

There are obvious concerns such as fire, water damage and theft —  but there are also liability concerns to be aware of.

Some universities require residents to obtain personal insurance because the university’s own insurance for its residences often only covers damage to property.

“The university gets insurance to protect their interests,” Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations, Insurance Bureau of Canada told

“You can purchase a tenant insurance policy to cover your belongings if you don't have insurance elsewhere.”  

The benefits of renters insurance

If a hazard renders your residence unfit to live in, the policy covers the cost of alternate accommodations while you’re temporarily away.

“It makes it a lot easier on a person's pockets, to cover your additional living expenses if you're forced from your place because of an event like a fire, flood or something like that,” Karageorgos said. 

One of the other benefits of investing in renters insurance is that it also covers liability from accidental injuries to guests and property damage.

“Many times people don't think about liability insurance unless there's really a concern about being sued,” Karageorgos said. 

“But being students sometimes you may do something that could injure someone else or harm someone else or someone else's property.”

For example, let’s say you have a party in your unit and someone clogs the toilet and it floods the dorm and the units below them. 

Depending on the agreement, the university’s insurance company would likely pay to fix the damage. But then they have the opportunity to go after whoever was responsible for causing the damage and may present the bill to you for repairs.

Before you rush to buy a policy

Full-time post-secondary students who have not officially moved out of the family home — because they plan to move back home at the end of the school year —  may be covered to some extent by their parent’s home insurance policy.

It's always best to confirm with your provider because not every insurance company does offer that coverage and if they do, there could be limits with respect to the coverage available.

For temporary residents such as international students who don’t have a permanent address in Canada, you can inquire about the approach your institution takes toward insurance coverage. 

But there's added value to having a renters insurance policy.

“Make sure you have some protection somewhere, don't assume,” Karageorgos said.