Insurance for students

If you’re a student about to head off to university, you could well be about to live away from the family home for the first time. That’s a big and exciting step, and there’s lots to think about. While it might not seem like a priority, protecting your precious possessions against the risk of theft or damage should definitely be on your to-do list.

When you think about it, the value of tablets, laptops, smart phones, PCs, TVs and any items you’re planning on packing can add up to thousands of pounds. And if one or more of these items were to be stolen, lost or damaged, you may not be able to afford a replacement when living on a tight student budget. In this case, getting the right insurance cover in place for university is vital, whether you living in halls or private digs.

What insurance do I need?

There are two types of home insurance policy: one is for buildings, and one is for your belongings, known as ‘contents’. Buildings insurance covers the structure of the property (and all the permanent fixtures and fittings within it). So it will pay out if the fabric of the building is damaged or destroyed by a fire or flood, for example.

As a student, however, you’ll probably be renting from either the university or a landlord. Either way, the property doesn’t belong to you so you won’t need to buy buildings insurance. Only if you are lucky enough to be buying your own home to live in at university, will you need to buy this kind of cover.
The part of home insurance you will need is contents insurance, which covers your possessions should they be stolen, lost or damaged.

Contents insurance

The first thing to do is check to see whether your possessions are already covered under your parents’ home insurance, as their policy might offer cover for ‘contents temporarily removed from the home’.

However, for this to work your parents’ house will have to be your main address, which means you’ll need to return there in the holidays between terms. This kind of cover will also usually come with a maximum limit – £5,000 for example – which may not be enough to replace all of your belongings. If this is the case you will need to get one of your parents to contact their insurer and buy extra cover.

If your parent’s home insurance doesn’t offer ‘contents temporarily removed from the home’, it can often be added on for an extra premium.

Bear in mind, however, that if you do make a claim on your parent’s home insurance policy as a student, it will almost definitely result in the cost of their premiums going up in the future. And they’ll lose any no claim discount they’ve built up.

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Go your own way

If using your parent’s contents insurance isn’t an option or doesn’t appeal to you, you can buy your own cover. Several specialist insurers offer student insurance but here at MoneySupermarket, we’ve teamed up with Endsleigh, which is accredited by the National Union of Students (NUS). You can type in your details and get a quote here.

Take your time

When buying any insurance policy remember to read the terms and conditions carefully. You may have to insure different kinds of gadgets under separate specific policies. For example, Endsleigh will only cover PCs and TVs under its most standard student contents insurance policy. So make sure you know exactly what you are covered for.

If are thinking about taking something to university that is particularly valuable (which may not be a good idea anyway), you may have to insure it separately. This is because insurers usually impose ‘single item limits’, which is a cap on the amount of money you can claim for one single item.

Keeping costs down

Most contents insurance policies will come with an excess which is the amount you must pay towards any claim. This excess comes in two parts – compulsory, which you have to pay, and voluntary, which you can choose to add. The compulsory excess might be £50 or £100, while you could choose to add a voluntary excess of, say, another £100.

If you opt for a high voluntary excess, your annual premiums will be cheaper. This is great if you never use the policy but if you do need to claim, make sure it’s the sort of sum you will be able to raise. Otherwise insurance is false economy!

You can usually choose to pay your annual premiums upfront for the year, or by a monthly direct debit, which works out a little more expensive overall.
The more secure the property you are living in, the lower premiums are likely to be. So when choosing your student digs, look out to see if the landlord has installed decent security such as a five-lever mortis locks and locks on the window.

If you have a room within a house, make sure there’s a lock on your door, and tell your housemates that security is important – especially when it comes to strangers wandering around the property.

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