If you are getting ready to head off to university, then student insurance might not be your priority as you prepare to leave home for perhaps the first time.
However, along with selecting the best option for a student bank account, insuring your possessions is an area not to be ignored.
Most students will leave university with at least £20,000 of debt, so it makes sense to take steps to minimise this and certainly not add to it. Student insurance may seem like another expense but at just £30 - £50 or so a year, it could be the best investment you make in your university years.
Most students will take a laptop, smartphones, iPod, games consoles and other equipment adding up to an average of £2,000 according to the latest research from insurers, Endsleigh.
Gerry Barrett, Head of Insurance at Post Office, said: "Research shows that the contents of a typical student bedroom, including laptops, MP3 players and TVs, could be worth over £800, making it very costly to replace stolen items, especially when living on a student budget.”
This is all change from my time as a student when I had a 10” black and white portable and an old “ghetto blaster!”
At any one time students are likely to have gadgets worth £337 on them and what’s more insurance claims amongst students are 60 per cent higher than average.
Student accommodation has long had a reputation for attracting the attention of burglars and with finances for students under more pressure than ever as a result of tuition fees, the last thing a new student wants is to have to replace their beloved and essential personal possessions.
Liam Burns, President of the NUS, said: “Taking precautions against theft and damage can provide you with valuable piece of mind and ensure that you are not left out of pocket at a time when money can be particularly tight.”
There are basically two ways to insure your possessions. You can either purchase your own policy or go through your parents.
For a small fee many insurers will allow parents to put their children on the home insurance policy when they head off to university.
However, though this may seem the most straight-forward and cost effective way of insuring yourself as a student, there are lots of restrictions.
Endsleigh says that in most cases your parents’ policy will not cover for items lost or damaged when you are away from home. In some circumstances you are not even covered if someone enters your accommodation and steals items unless you have a lock on the door and there is evidence of forced entry.
Another potential limitation to taking out this form of student insurance is that if you claim it will affect your parents no-claims bonus and push up the cost potentially cancelling out any savings.
Peter Harrison, insurance expert at MoneySupermarket.com, said: “One way to bring down the cost for this cover is to add students onto their parent's home contents policy. Parents should be aware however, that any claims made will directly impact their own claims history and potentially result in increased premiums in the future.”
Also, in most instances your parents excess – the amount they pay in the event of having to make a claim – will be £100 to £500. With students carrying a lot of items in this value range, if you were robbed you would have to pay a similar amount in excess as the value of the item lost.
However, it is worth checking with your parents insurer first as some insurers will extend full insurance to a student offspring’s contents when they are away from home – just check the exclusions before you sign up to this option!
Your own policy
Student policies typically have a lower excess, between £25 and £75. This means if you have to make a claim you will pay less to do it and an amount more proportionate to what you have lost.
Let’s face it, most students are not going to be carrying around items worth in the thousands, co it makes sense to insure at a more realistic level. This is cheaper and will provide you with the cover you need as long as you do your research and get cover that relates to your own individual circumstances.
You can build up your own no claims bonus and it will avoid potential arguments with your parents and you can ensure it is tailored to the possessions and risks you have.
Endsleigh offer a good range of policies include laptop and phone bundles or tailored policies. Adrian Flux also offers a range of policies and cover student contents up to £4,000. Cover4students.com are another option offering specialist insurance policies too if your studies or hobbies involve having expensive equipment.
As with any type of financial product it pays to spend an hour researching and shopping around to compare different providers and find the right deal for you.
Ten top insurance tips for students
- Check that your accommodation is secure, including the windows and that your door has a lock.
- Don’t leave valuables on display.
- Get insurance in place before you arrive at university. Many thefts happen in the first few weeks when the university has more visitors than usual and people don’t know each other.
- Check all insurance policies for any exclusions that might apply to you before you sign up. Check the expensive items you are taking and make sure they are covered.
- If insurance comes as part of your rental agreement, check whether the policy is comprehensive and covers you for what you need.
- Keep separate lists of the make, model and serial number of electronic items as it will help police identify them and take photographs of the items. Also keep copies of receipts.
- Mark your valuables with the name of your university and your student ID number as this makes it more difficult for thieves to sell items on and can help police identify them and return them to you.
- Check your policy covers you for loss or damage away from your accommodation as you are more likely to lose your phone and laptop when you are out than to be burgled.
Take your valuables home with you during the holidays.
- Back up your music collection, photos, digital files and work so that if anything happens to your camera, laptop, MP3 player or other items you won’t lose its vital contents.
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