Will Your Insurance Cover Your Kid's Stolen Laptop?

Tickers in this article: TRV

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Theft is a significant hazard on college campuses, according to data from insurance giant Travelers , including theft of vital items such a laptops.

But students don't have to live in dorms to become a victim, and most people don't realize how important the distinction is for the insurance that could pay for replacement equipment.

"Laptops are one of the most essential yet expensive tools that student need to complete college," says Mark Grace, vice president for consumer business at Absolute Software. "We have seen countless cases where students have lost midterm assignments or even an entire semester's worth of work after their laptops were stolen."

Whether a student has file backups or not, they need to be able to pay for replacement equipment fast so they can get back atop their workload.

But in a survey of 1,000 adult consumers, Travelers found that 47% of those who have had a child start college during the past five years never reviewed their insurance, despite the fact that "in addition to laptops and smartphones, it is common for students to take iPads, personal electronics, video game systems, bicycles, stereo equipment and televisions to campus," says Elaine Baisden, vice president of personal insurance at Travelers.

Here's the rule parents are overlooking:

If a student's primary residence is the same as his or her parents while they are living on campus, a percentage of the student's contents will often be covered under the parents' homeowners policy, Baisden says.

"But if a student is living off-campus, he or she should consider a renters insurance policy," she says. "On average, renters insurance ranges from $150 to $200 a year. If the student will be living with roommates, each individual should purchase his own policy."

Baisden adds that if you have children headed to college with stuff from your house, it is also a good idea to review your own coverage. "If students will be taking expensive items such as jewelry or a musical instrument with them to school, you might consider adding a rider to the renters or homeowners policy so these items are covered," she says.