By Lara Chatterjee
Armina Ligaya knows that every time it rains, the floor of her two-bedroom Annex apartment will be wet.
She can only guess how deep it will be each time. On top of worrying about her possessions being ruined, now Ligaya’s floor is starting to pucker and it’s going to have to be replaced sometime soon. But Ligaya’s not panicking — she’s got insurance.
But do you? Ryerson legal clinic lawyer William Reid says not getting insurance can be a costly error. In fact, he advises that students take out both tenant and liability insurance, whether they are renting accommodation on or off-campus. (The three major types to look into are tenant’s insurance, liability insurance and content insurance. Students should have all three.) “That way if anything goes wrong, such as damages to the property or someone gets hurt in their apartment …the possibility of legal action, they have that liability covered,” he says.
Many students are covered under their parent’s policy if they’re full time students — Ligaya was able to piggy bag with her parent’s coverage — but often additional or separate coverage is needed. Like many students, when Ligaya was preparing for school, insurance was the last thing on her mind, that is until her landlord informed her she needed it before she could move in. (Landlords increasingly require their tenants to have insurance to limit their own liability.)
Full-time students whose parents have property insurance from State Farm insurance are covered for up to $10,000 of content insurance. But depending on the individual student’s belongings, that may not be enough. “We do recommend that students look at their parents’ insurance policies for add-ons and reduced rates,” says Nicki Lajoie, coordinator at the Ryerson Off-Campus Housing Department. But State Farm agent George McFarlane says that coverage varies greatly from company to company, so it is always important to talk to your parents’ insurance provider and find out exactly what is covered.
If you don’t have access to your parent’s broker, or if they don’t have insurance, contact an insurance company or broker in your area to make an appointment for advice. It’s also important to verify your status at the university, because most policies only cover full-time students.
Lajoie says it’s vital for student renters to get insurance, because so many things that can go wrong, especially in an older house. “(And) it’s hard to get claims when you are dealing with a landlord,” he adds. Intimidated? Don’t be. There are several institutions that can help with issues of liability and insurance.
The Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal was set up by the provincial government in order to inform tenants and landlords of their rights and roles. Carol Kiley, the tribunal’s Program Development Manager, advises students check out their website, before moving anywhere. One specific clause on tenant’s responsibility for damages is important to note, she says. Tenants must pay for the replacement or repair of any damage they or their guests cause.
This applies not only to your apartment, but also any common areas such as stairways, hallways or foyers. Kiley recommends students take out both property and content tenant insurance. Glen Weppler, manager of student housing services on-campus says student’s should invest in content insurance. Students living in residence are not automatically covered by the school, and especially since it’s normal to leave doors unlocked and open, they are vulnerable to theft. Lajoie says if you are a student who has a lot of expensive new possessions, you should look into getting insurance or raising your limit if you are part of your parents plan.
But even if you don’t have a big screen TV or full stereo system, your collection of CDs and DVDs can still add up to a fair amount of money. Insurance will allow you to cover those possessions and replace them without going deep (or deeper) into debt. It also protects you from personal liability and what can be messy legal battles.