Friday, January 18

UCLA Housing recommends students buy renters insurance

UCLA Housing offered renters insurance from GradGuard to student residents on the Hill and in university apartments through an opt-out survey system via email. (Owen Emerson/Daily Bruin senior staff)

UCLA Housing offered renters insurance from GradGuard to student residents on the Hill and in university apartments through an opt-out survey system via email. (Owen Emerson/Daily Bruin senior staff)

UCLA Housing forwarded incoming Hill and university apartment residents’ contact information to an insurance company if students did not opt out through emailed surveys by Aug. 24.

Housing representatives across the University of California system are urging all incoming university residents to purchase GradGuard renters insurance for the 2015-2016 school year to prevent personal liability, although coverage is optional.

UCLA Housing is offering students renters insurance from GradGuard for about $185 per academic year. The insurance is designed to provide coverage for personal items such as laptops that are stolen and to offer financial protection for students who unintentionally damage their dorm.

Students who will live on the Hill or in university apartments received two emails about the insurance in August, both linking to a one-question survey to immediately opt out of receiving more information about purchasing the coverage. Those who did not complete it will automatically receive four emails during the next month from GradGuard about buying an insurance plan, but will not be enrolled in a plan or charged if they do not respond, said Mark Pokorski, assistant director of UCLA Housing.

This is the first year Housing has suggested a specific company for students to buy insurance from, said Sarah Quinn, director of Housing. She added Housing has always encouraged students to purchase it in the past, including on its website.

GradGuard renters insurance was piloted at UC Davis last year and is now being implemented across all UC campuses.

Quinn said the UC Office of the President took up the initiative to decrease students’ personal liability.

She said the deductible, the amount students must pay before the insurance company covers their claim, is only $100, versus other private companies’, which she estimates to be $500 to $1,000.

Quinn said officials chose GradGuard because it offers more benefits tailored for college students than generic insurance companies do. Quinn added GradGuard covers residents under 18 without requiring their parents’ approval and allows students to switch housing during the school year without compromising their coverage.

Quinn also said the UCOP did not recommended a specific company to purchase renters insurance from in the past because officials first had to find one which catered to students’ needs at all 10 campuses.

Madison Shamoun, a rising second-year theater student, said she thinks renters insurance is important for residents in university apartments to consider, but unnecessary for residents on the Hill.

She said she thinks things that are stolen on the Hill are often stolen because residents fail to properly secure their rooms or watch over them which would prevent them from filing a valid claim.

GradGuard’s policy contains exclusions including neglect to save and preserve personal property and mysterious disappearance of property.

Sarah Bazargan, a rising second-year bioengineering student, said she thinks UCLA officials were unclear in their emailed communication because numerous students posted about the policy on Facebook under the impression they would be automatically billed for it.

“There are other ways to inform people instead of saying they only have until a certain date to opt out of sharing their information to a company they didn’t sign up for,” Bazargan said.

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Catherine Liberty Feliciano was a news reporter and a staff representative on the Daily Bruin Editorial Board. She wrote stories about Westwood, research and student life. She dabbled in video journalism and frequently wrote #ThrowbackThursday blogs. Feliciano was an assistant Opinion editor in the 2015-2016 school year.

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