Does home insurance cover dependents when they leave home?

In most cases, your home insurance covers dependents' belongings even when they're away from home. This means that your young children can take their smartphones and tablets outside of your home and your home insurance should cover loss or damage.

It also means that your policy still covers your kids' belongings when they leave for university. Each policy differs, so check with your insurer concerning age limits and other restrictions.

Does home insurance cover dependents when they leave home?

How does home insurance protect their belongings?

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, home insurance not only covers certain kinds of damage to your home, but also insures possessions, whether they belong to you, your partner or your children. Your children are covered up to the age of 18 and coverage continues until age 21, as long as they're still residents of your household. In other words, if your 18 to 21-year-old child is away at university or is taking a gap year, their electronics, jewelry, collectibles and other equipment are still covered by your home insurance policy.

Although most coverage stops at 21, you can always negotiate with your insurer to extend coverage for another year or so. If you own multiple policies with the same insurer, or you've been a customer for many years, the company might make an exception for you. Insurers might extend coverage for a child who is away from home and meets one or more of these criteria:

  • Studying at a government-accredited university
  • Unmarried and not in a domestic partnership
  • Dependent on you for financial support
  • Suffering from a serious medical condition

What if your child moves back home?

According to Canada's latest census numbers, 42.3 per cent of Canadian children ages 20 to 29 still live with their parents. If your child returns to your home, his or her possessions are again covered by your home insurance. Even if you have to rent a storage unit for extra belongings, your personal property coverage should extend to those items.

What happens when your child (finally) leaves the nest?

After children turn 21, most insurance policies cease to cover their belongings, unless you've negotiated a specific agreement. At that point, you can help your child to purchase tenant insurance. IBC suggests asking insurers to cover your child's belongs at replacement value, not at their present value. In other words, tenant insurance should cover the cost of replacing your child's possessions instead of paying for what the old items are worth now.

Good news for parents

If your 18-year-old child's computer is stolen from a dormitory room, you're off the hook for replacing it. Your home insurance should still protect children up to age 21 when they're temporarily away from home.

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