Like many schools that are drawn to GradGuard, it all starts with a major incident or two that prompts interest in providing an optional renters insurance benefit to students.
Fighting floods and fires in residence halls
Todd Larsen, Senior Director of Housing Operations at Cal Poly Humboldt, had only been on the job for about a month when one of the residence halls flooded three floors.
A student on the third floor hung a hanger from a sprinkler head, flooding 20 units at two in the morning. The incident caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage, and none of the affected students had renters insurance, according to Larsen.
Larsen describes it as a pivotal moment for Humboldt residence life, especially since it followed a recent fire in a laundry room.
Incidents like these are hard to forget. While they can't be entirely prevented, Larsen and his team started looking into solutions for students who experience occasional losses from stolen or damaged property.
Peer institutions pave the way for Humboldt
It all clicked for Larsen when he first learned about GradGuard. The Renters Protection Program integrates with StarRez, the school's online housing portal. Plus, a policy provides personal property protection in not only the event of damage or theft but also liability.
Those key features seemed to be exactly what Humboldt was looking for.
"I saw it as a no-brainer, really," Larsen said. "It had seemed so easy."
Larsen says peer institutions, including San Francisco State University, noted success with the program, encouraging Humboldt to take the leap and become a GradGuard partner in November 2016.
Integrating the program with technology Humboldt was already using
Before working with GradGuard, Larsen said housing and residence life would refer students to various renters insurance companies through the school website. GradGuard's Renters Insurance provides students the active choice to purchase or decline coverage, all through the school's online housing portal.
GradGuard's exclusive partnerships with the largest housing providers enable programs like Humboldt's to be integrated at no cost to the school.
While students living on and off campus at Humboldt are not required to purchase renters insurance, it's recommended by the university. For those looking to protect themselves, the integrated offer removes the need to shop around for policies and ensures better coverage beyond a parent's homeowners insurance policy, which often has limits or exclusions.
"Over the years, it's gotten better," Larsen said. "Your systems have really modernized. And the portal pages have gotten better, too, from when we first launched."
Life with GradGuard and beyond
Campuses like Cal Poly Humboldt are in good hands when they partner with GradGuard. There is constant communication between the GradGuard team and campus partners, providing updates, reports, and beneficial program information.
Pushing students to research renters insurance options on their own doesn't work. Among dozens of different companies, it can be overwhelming for a student to find an option that's right for them. Some have hidden fees, terms, or limitations. But the worst-case scenario is when they don't opt for a policy and face a devastating financial loss when their laptop is stolen or they accidentally damage their dorm room.
With GradGuard, students are presented with an active choice to accept or deny coverage when making their housing selection. Our exclusive partnerships with many online housing providers, including StarRez, enable GradGuard to offer these programs to schools at no cost.
When students start college, renters insurance is not likely to be top of mind. But when a campus works with GradGuard, and students are aware of the risks, plus given an affordable, easy option to protect themselves, renters insurance just makes sense.
"I always had renters insurance when I was a renter," Larsen said. "From day one of college. So I totally understand the value of it."
Students and families can make an informed choice when they know renters insurance is an option to protect their stuff and residence hall. Schools that work with GradGuard, including Cal Poly Humboldt, help to educate and protect their students on the financial risks of college life.