California is home to many of GradGuard's partner schools that offer renters insurance. The University of San Francisco is one of them, which became a partner in August 2017.
Candace Torrey, Associate Director for Housing Administration, has worked with GradGuard for nearly her entire education career.
USFCA is a private Jesuit university located in the heart of San Francisco. She says partnering with GradGuard to offer a renters protection program is just one of the ways administrators provide holistic care and support for their students.
Working with GradGuard from San Diego to San Francisco
Sprinkler head incidents continue to live in infamy for student housing professionals. But, unfortunately, Torrey has seen it all too well before. She started her career in residential life at the University of San Diego, where a student once hung a wetsuit from a sprinkler head.
She recalls the student living in a top-floor residence, which, when the sprinkler head discharged, caused a massive amount of water to flow and flood all the units below it.
USD was one of the first schools to partner with GradGuard for renters insurance in June 2014. Torrey says incidents like these reminded her of how necessary the program is on campus. It's something she thinks the students and families appreciate, too.
"Sometimes, renters insurance sounds really complicated and dense and hard to understand," Torrey said. "GradGuard has always been super approachable, supportive, and very customer-service oriented in how they talk to students, staff, and parents, which I think our families feel, too."
When she took the job at USFCA, she said she was happy to see she would be working with GradGuard again.
Education is a big part of the renters insurance program
Being part of a campus that was an early adopter of GradGuard's Renters Protection Program, Torrey has had a front-row seat to all the improvements made over the years.
She says GradGuard is more than just an optional student renters insurance benefit. There's also an educational component.
- When students are presented with the option to purchase renters insurance for their belongings and residence hall, they're aware that the school doesn't pay for stolen or damaged student items.
- They acknowledge their understanding of the risks of living on or off-campus and that they had the opportunity to purchase renters insurance.
The unfortunate reality of many college campuses is how rampant theft it. From stolen bikes, laptops, or other costly electronics, USFCA isn't immune to it. Torrey says combatting theft is top of mind for the campus.
USFCA changed their housing agreement so that renters insurance was an expectation of living on campus. The slight shift made a big difference in making more students and parents consider renters insurance, according to Torrey.
"We're as safe as we can be in a city, but we're still in a major city," Torrey said. "So, I think this gives students and parents peace of mind that we're thinking of all aspects of what your experience will look like here, and we're going to provide this as an option."
GradGuard makes it easy for students and families to purchase an affordable plan to protect their belongings and residence hall. There's also work that goes into educating members on covered reasons for filing a claim and how easy it is to do so.
Torrey says she's happy GradGuard provides tools schools can use to better educate their students about the program.
"That's something we've really been focused on this year," Torrey said. "We were focused on the signup portion of it, and now we're focusing on making sure students are aware of using this throughout the year. So that's our next goal with GradGuard."
At USFCA, students know they can reach out to GradGuard directly for support.
- It makes the partnership with USFCA easy on administrators.
- There's no expectation for them to become insurance experts.
- Education about the program begins before they step foot on campus for move-in day.
For many students, it's the first time they will be living away from home for the first time. As a result, renters insurance likely isn't top of mind for them until USFCA lets them know about the option and benefits.
No-cost integration is simple
GradGuard's Renters Protection Program is integrated within USFCA's housing application process through StarRez. Integration is at no cost to schools and makes offering a renters insurance solution hassle-free.
Torrey says the program's simplicity makes working with GradGuard easy. In addition, any updates to improve the functionality and user experience in the application process are reflected automatically in the campus portals.
"I appreciate how GradGuard is evolving with the students we're serving," Torrey said.
Participation at USFCA has grown over the years. Additionally, as the student population continues to grow, Torrey believes more students will enroll in GradGuard as they realize renters insurance is a smart choice, regardless if they're living on or off-campus.
From 2020 to 2021, the number of students with policies increased by nearly 30 percent compared to the previous school year.
From 2021 to 2022, the number of students with policies increased by more than 46 percent compared to the previous school year.
Torrey says she trusts GradGuard to provide the same level of care and service to students when they're already in a difficult situation.
"It says a lot about making your students excited and welcomed about coming," she said. "It's one less thing you have to worry about because you're offering it as an option for them. And on a staffing side, it's such an easy thing."
A streamlined process for students and schools
Torrey believes first-year students can feel good about their school offering renters insurance.
- Housing administrators make it clear to students living on campus that the school is not liable for anything that happens to their belongings in their residence hall.
- Instead, they encourage them to consider purchasing renters insurance, which can cover the cost of replacing stolen or damaged student property.
"It's important that we provide it as a resource and not create extra," Torrey said. "It makes it so easy to streamline for students."
Students are always online or on their phones, so signing up for renters insurance within their housing portal is simple. However, Torrey thinks if administrators could only push students and parents to read an email or visit a website to sign up, more students would go without renters insurance.
"I don't think our numbers would be where they are if the insurance wasn't in the housing application," Torrey said. "It's so easy for us. You do not have to be a power user in StarRez to be able to put it in. So it's not a technical hassle if you don't have IT support of you're a one-person show."