By Collin Huguley

College students living away from home for the first time often feel the need for more education on how to protect their living spaces and belongings from potential disaster.

For these students, renters insurance is a new concept.

“At this point in our lives, we haven’t really experienced much in the realm of home owning,” said 22-year-old University of Georgia student Amanda Gruner. “It’s not like a staple that we’re told about; that we need renters insurance. We’re taught that we need bedding, but not that we need insurance.”

Gruner, a fourth-year civil engineering major from Acworth, Georgia, said she previously had renters insurance at her former apartment complex, The Reserve at Athens, which required her to have the insurance policy. But since moving, she has dropped the policy and is covered under her parents’ insurance.

She feels the need to be insured now more than ever. Her new living space is not in a gated community and she has since gotten a dog, increasing the potential risk of falling victim to burglary or damage within the apartment by her pet. She said she felt secure and protected when covered by her own policy and that more students should make an investment in order to feel safe.

But Andy Carswell fears that students may not all subscribe to that line of thinking.

The associate professor of financial planning, housing and consumer economics at the University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences feels strongly that students should buy renters insurance. Youth and a lack of knowledge could turn students away from making this wise financial choice, he said.

“They’re risk tolerant,” Carswell said. “It’s an expense that they probably don’t think they feel like they can incur.”

Gruner said her renters insurance policy cost only $100 per year. By comparison, the cost of homeowners insurance policies for someone owning a home can climb to more than a $1,000 annually. Carswell fears that students will assume renters insurance will be out of their price range because of a lack of knowledge about the differences between the two.

“They just hear that you need to take insurance out and not understand that it’s probably worthwhile and much cheaper than homeowners insurance,” Carswell said.

Carswell said there is enough risk from things such as burglary, fire and floods from plumbing failure to make the small investment of renters insurance worth it.

“They probably think — in terms of if anything happens like a flood in their unit — that it’s the responsibility of the property owner that’s liable for repairing the goods and that’s just not true,” Carswell said.

Because students are ill-informed on the issue of renters insurance, Gruner is a supporter of The Reserve at Athens requiring a policy.

“I definitely don’t think college students are educated enough on it because it’s just something we don’t think about, Gruner said. “I think apartment complexes should require it.”

Concerns that students don’t know enough about renters insurance are also evident in someone like Gruner, but she sees the value in a policy.

“It’s just $100 for peace of mind,” Gruner said. “I never had to claim anything, so I don’t know how that process would go. It’s just a peace of mind kind of thing.”

Collin Huguley is a journalism student at the University of Georgia.