Last week, the Daily Nexus ran an article about an increase in burglaries in Isla Vista (“Crime Statistics Reveal Increase in Burglaries,” (Daily Nexus, Oct. 12, 2009). Community Housing Office staff members read the article and thought it was the perfect time to inform students about renter’s insurance, our rental focus for November. We thought we’d share some tips about how to protect your stuff, or at least get compensation when it is stolen or damaged, whether due to theft, rain, fire or another unexpected disaster.

In most of these 378 reported burglaries, thieves came in through unlocked doors and windows. The obvious solution is to lock doors and windows. Farmer’s Insurance agent David Groom says, “Renter’s insurance policy covers theft but not mysterious disappearance. If there are dozens of people coming in and out of the apartment, theft is a major concern, but it’s unlikely the circumstances would trigger coverage.”

Renter’s insurance, which is widely available through most insurance companies, can cost as little as $10 to $20 per month, and most carry a $500 deductible. According to Groom, coverage usually requires signs of forced entry and a subsequent police report. Although there is little that renter’s insurance can do for your lost 10-page paper or the photos that are gone forever, getting cash to recoup losses can certainly help someone on a tight budget.

Your landlords have insurance that covers the structure of the building, but their insurance doesn’t extend to cover your personal belongings. Renter’s insurance covers your personal belongings if a pipe bursts or your apartment is damaged from fire and smoke. Renter’s insurance can also provide liability protection if someone gets hurt at your place and sues you for injuries.

One big problem for students is that a large number of roommates may prevent the insurance company from writing them a policy. One alternative to purchasing your own renter’s insurance policy is to see if your parent or guardian’s homeowner’s policy extends coverage to you away at school. If this is the case, you are covered. However, check with your insurance agent about the scope of coverage.

In addition to locking your windows and doors and purchasing insurance coverage, there are a couple of other inexpensive ways to protect your personal belongings:
1) Don’t leave your computer/iPod/cell phone out in the open — like in your living room, the library, the coffee shop or the front/back seat of your car.
2) Back up your data! If your computer gets stolen, at least you have another copy of your precious files, photos and music.
3) Use common sense if you have people over — hide your valuables!

The Community Housing Office is UCSB’s resource for non-university housing needs. We provide rental listings, rental advice, move-in/move-out videotaping service and mediation for roommates in conflict. Visit us on the third floor of the UCen, call us at (805) 893-4371, or e-mail us at with any questions you would like us to answer for future CHO columns. Check out our Facebook page and become a fan for regular updates on living in the community. Until then, lock it up!