Consumer Reports: Dorm insurance

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You might want to consider buying dorm insurance for all those electronics and expensive items. (WLS)

Did you just spend a pretty penny outfitting your kid for college? You might want to consider buying dorm insurance for all those electronics and expensive items.

Consumer Reports helps you understand the risks and your options.

A false alarm on Lafayette student Allie Mullan's college campus last year triggered the dormitory's fire alarm sprinklers.

"Books, papers, computers, any electronics, phones. Anything that was just out in the open got ruined," Mullan said.

Barring freak accidents, you may worry about theft or someone stealing your co-ed's stuff.

But that threat is relatively small, from schools that report crime data, there were only about 798 burglaries and larceny thefts for every 100,000 students enrolled at institutions of higher learning - that's less than percent.

"You can go to the FBI's website to find detailed crime statistics for your child's school, but you also have to keep in mind just how responsible your child is. Are they really trusting with their belongings and just how careful are they?" said Consumer Reports Money Editor Donna

If you decide you do want to insure their stuff, you have a few options.

A parent's homeowner's policy will typically cover kids while they're living in an on-campus residence at no extra cost, but the coverage may only apply to 10 percent of your limit on the contents of your home. So if your policy covers up to $50,000 in losses, your student's belongings are covered for only up to $5,000.

A renters' policy will be necessary if your child lives off-campus. Premiums vary based on the amount of coverage needed, but are usually around $10 to $22 per month.

Then there's something called dorm insurance, which may be your best option. A $5,000 policy might cost $140 per year, but with only a $25 deductible, you won't fret putting in a claim.

And for some of Allie Mullan's classmates, bringing a water-logged laptop to class is something they hope to never deal with again.

Consumer Reports suggests considering the value of your child's possessions before going in for dorm insurance. Policies cover not only laptops and smartphones, but also bicycles, sports equipment and musical instruments, all of which may have high enough price tags to warrant the extra coverage.

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