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Parent’s Letter

This letter was created for clients to proactively answer frequently asked insurance questions for parents and members before the questions arise throughout the course of a member’s collegiate experience.

Please feel free to use this template and edit it as you see fit. You will notice [bracketed] sections where we encourage you to insert your organization and/or chapter name to tailor this language to your specific needs.

Should you have any questions, as always, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Re: [Fraternity’s] National Insurance Program

To The Parents of [Chapter Member’s Name]:

The Independent Insurance Agents of America estimate that 100,000 property claims occur on college campuses annually. While on a college campus, your young adult will be responsible for the personal property or personal possessions they have at school. They also are liable for their actions that cause damage to others’ property and/or any bodily injury they cause to another person.

If your family has a standard homeowner’s insurance policy or a renter’s insurance policy, it is likely that the exposures to your young adult will be covered under that policy while they are away at college. However, we recommend that chapter members and their families verify that their homeowners policy extend to a student’s personal property while away at college.

For that reason, we believe that it is our responsibility to communicate to the chapter members and their parents the specifics of the Sorority’s insurance coverage.

Property and Liability Coverage

Each House Corporation has a contract with the resident members that defines the relationship and obligation of both parties to the arrangement. The agreement explicitly states that the House Corporation is not responsible for any loss or damage to a resident member’s personal property, including their personal automobiles. Personal property includes members’ laptops, personal items, and any other property that they bring into the chapter house. Similarly to any other rental arrangement, the resident is responsible for insuring their own personal property, either via their parent’s homeowners policy or via a renters’ policy. The fraternity’s property coverage covers the Fraternity’s property, for example the furniture and kitchen equipment owned by the Housing Corporation at the chapter house.

Parents’ Homeowner’s Policy

It is the responsibility of the resident member to make sure that their personal property is protected while living in the chapter house. Many chapter members’ property would still be covered under their parent’s homeowners policy; however, we recommend that chapter members and their families verify that their homeowners policy extends to a student’s personal property while away at college.

We have reviewed the industry-standard insurance language for homeowner’s policies in hopes of providing resident members with the information necessary to ensure that their personal property is adequately protected. The standard homeowner’s policy language defines an insured as:

  • A student in school full time, as defined by the school, who was a resident of your household before moving out to attend school, provided the student is under the age of:
  • 24 and your relative; or
  • 21 and in your care or the care of a person described above (there have been a number of states that have enacted legislation that extends the age limit beyond 21 years, so be sure to verify the age limit in your insurance policy language)

Most resident members would fit into one or both of the definitions above, but there are further issues to consider when ensuring your personal property is protected:

  • College students are typically covered for ten percent of the contents limit under their parent’s homeowner’s policy. If your personal property is valued at or above the ten percent limit under your policy, you should speak with your insurance agent about increasing that limit.
  • Under the standard homeowner’s policy, the contents coverage only provides named perils coverage, which means that losses would be covered only if they arise from causes of loss listed in the policy. A laptop that was damaged from power surge or from being dropped, for example, would likely not be covered under a named perils policy. We recommend that you verify with your insurance agent that the policy provides all-risk coverage.
  • If a student chooses to declare independent status, perhaps for loan purposes, they would likely not be covered under their parent’s homeowner’s policy.

Student Renter’s Insurance

If you would prefer not to rely on a parent’s renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, we highly encourage you or your daughter to purchase student renter’s insurance, which will cover her personal property and personal liability. For example, National Student Services offers $10,000 worth of coverage with a $50 deductible for about $300 in annual premium. Grad Guard offers a comparable program. If you or your daughter purchases a student renter’s policy, we recommend that you confirm that the following perils are covered: theft, fire, flood, and wind. In addition, some of the most common causes of loss to a laptop include drops and damage from liquids being spilled into the laptop, so it is important to verify whether or not those types of claims would be covered.

Personal Liability Coverage

The organization’s liability insurance does not cover personal or bodily injury to your daughter in much the same way that your homeowner’s policy does not provide medical coverage for members of your household. If your daughter is injured at the chapter house or at a chapter event, she will need to rely on her (or your) personal medical policy. This may also be spelled out in the membership and housing agreements that she has signed.

[Sorority name’s] policy will provide liability coverage for your daughter’s personal actions within the course and scope of her membership obligations, but not outside. Your daughter’s organization has purchased the broadest coverage possible to protect your daughter should she be named in a lawsuit due to her affiliation with [sorority name], so long as she is following the guidelines of the organization. The liability insurance is third-party coverage, meaning that it protects the insureds (the Sorority, House Corporation, Chapter, Members, Volunteers, etc.) should they be named in a lawsuit from a third-party who has either been hurt or had their property damaged.

Personal Automobile Insurance

If your daughter takes her car to school, your automobile policy will continue to cover her personal automobile while she is away at school. If she does not take a car with her to school, you will want to ensure that she is still listed as a driver under your automobile policy if she plans to drive any automobile while away at school. Several insurance companies offer “student away at school” discounts for this type of coverage, so be sure to check with your insurance agent before she leaves for college. MJ recommends that drivers, for their own financial health, carry at least $300,000 of automobile coverage, not merely the minimum coverage required by your state.

If your daughter drives her personal automobile on Sorority business and is involved in an accident, she will not be covered by [sorority’s name] automobile liability policy.  Liability follows the owner of the car; thus her personal liability would be covered by her personal automobile policy. The organization’s automobile liability policy exists to protect the organization if it is named in a lawsuit involving an automobile, not individuals. For more information about the automobile coverage, please refer to the Digging Deeper: Non-Owned Automobile document on MJ’s website.

For many chapter members, college is the first opportunity for them to live on their own away from home. It is important that chapter members and their families take the necessary steps to ensure that their personal property, which can often be very expensive, is financially protected via insurance. If you are interested in studying the organization’s insurance program further, we recommend you review the expansive Insurance Summary on MJ’s website. We realize that this can be a confusing issue, so please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Officer Liability

There is no debate that all students on campus will be expected to continue to follow the rules that universities and fraternal organizations put in place to ensure the health and safety of the students, faculty, and community.

It also goes without saying that the sorority officers of the chapter will have more responsibility to help lead this effort. With increased responsibilities comes greater liability to act as a “reasonable and prudent person” would do in a similar situation. If your daughter is a chapter officer, she has been and continues to be covered under the [Sorority’s] national insurance policy. We remain confident that your daughter would see her organization’s policy step up to defend her should she be named in a lawsuit and pay for a judgement should she be found negligible in her duties as an officer. You can be confident in the comprehensive national insurance policy that your daughter’s organization has secured for their exposures to risk.


Kit Clark Moorman
Director of Risk Management Education
MJ Sorority

Other helpful resources:

  • Insurance Basics for Member’s Parents Webinar: We have created a self-guided presentation that explains how the organization’s insurance program works, as well as provides some helpful hints regarding homeowners or renter’s insurance coverage.
  • Insurance and Risk Management Summary: An expansive explanation of the organization’s insurance program in straightforward and accessible language.
  • www.mjsorority.com: A one-stop resource for all things related to risk management and insurance issues from the leader in women’s fraternity and sorority risk management needs.