Before the next big earthquake hits or a suspect burglarizes another dorm room, CSUN officials advise University Park Apartments residents to obtain some type of insurance coverage for their possessions.
Many students believe their personal belongings in the dorms are safe from loss. However, the university does not cover or replace anything, whether it is from water damage from an upstairs neighbors or an accidental fire, said Melissa Giles, assistant housing director. Residents are basically responsible for their own property.
According to the CSUN student hand-book, which is given to incoming students who plan to dorm, “the university does not assume liability directly or indirectly for loss or damage to personal property by fire, theft, water, or any other cause except to the extent provided by the law.”
Residents are obligated to sign a contract when they lease an apartment, at on-campus housing, stating that the university is not liable for any loss, damage or theft of personal property.
“It’s no different if you live across the street. The university does not require you to live here (on campus),” Jody Van Lueven, Insurance and Risk manager, said.
Housing staff and Risk management are involved in communicating to students about the types of coverage they should acquire through insurance companies.
At the moment, housing officials did not have the total number of insured dorm residents but said it would be a good idea to survey.
Van Lueven said renter’s insurance is a type of indemnity students living in university housing should look into and include for their own protection.
Renter’s insurance is similar to homeowner’s insurance, customizable with prices, coverage and liability policies. Some companies like State Farm Insurance offers basic coverage starting from $12 a month. There are also websites where customers can compare prices and shop around.
Van Lueven suggests contacting parents’ (or legal guardian’s) homeowner’s insurance to verify if the dorm room is also covered by the policy, since at times, dependents who live abroad from home can also qualify for the same coverage.
However, students should confirm with their policy-providers which way is the best to insure their property. Housing can provide information on companies that may cater to the needs of students.
Giles said the housing department “promotes that people should be purchasing renters insurance” not just for burglaries and stolen items but also for fires and other types of possible damage.
However, loss of personal belongings has become an issue at the dorms. There have been around 20 dorm burglaries thus far into the semester. Items like laptops, smartphones, television sets and other electronics have been stolen from students’ rooms.
Among the many students who have been affected by thefts and burglaries freshman Katryna Howard, 19, whose dorm was burglarized in late March, is fighting to be reimbursed. She is currently in the process in trying to obtain a refund from the CSU office for the $2,000 in merchandize the suspect stole.
According to Howard, she took all of the necessary precautions housing and police advise to act out when it comes to securing dormitories, but someone still broke into her bedroom.
When she initially fell victim her father and grandmother tried to get a hold of information regarding refunds but they were given the notice that there was not anything the housing department or Risk management could do.
“Housing and risk management were difficult to contact because they gave my grandmother and dad the ‘runaround,’” Howard said. “They also said that I should have had insurance but how would I have been able to even get renters insurance with the amount of crimes the dorms have had.”
Although Risk Management could not comment on Howard’s case, they said they provide a link on their website so students can file a claim to the CSU office for a chance to gain compensation for property loss.
“With any state agency, the process is the same,” Van Lueven said.
Claims against the CSU system cost $25 and there is a course of action students, staff or other employees must take in order to complete a form and its requirements.
Additional policies to incorporate an umbrella housing insurance is something Risk management does not plan to do.
“At some point we need to let the young adults to run their lives as they can,” Van Lueven said.
After her experience, Howard said she encourages all dorm residents to invest in insurance to protect their material goods. Her mother’s housing insurance could not cover all of the costs that the burglars stole.
“Renters insurance really is the silver bullet,” Van Lueven said.