Insurance options for students

The average student heading to university this autumn will take with them possessions worth a staggering £2,652 - but many will fail to protect them.

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According to research by student insurance provider Endsleigh and the National Union of Students, 83% of students will be taking a laptop, while 14% will take a desktop computer and 4% a tablet PC to university for the start of the new term.

The average student carries many of their most expensive possessions with them every day, including items such as laptops, iPhones, MP3 players and digital cameras.

As a result, Endsleigh’s research shows that students regularly have an average of £1,165 worth of gadgets on them - even excluding other popular items, such as jewellery, makeup, cash and credit cards.

Peter Harrison, insurance expert at MoneySupermarket said: “Students gearing up for the start of university may be more focused on the fun of fresher’s week than thinking about their insurance cover.

“But students are a prime target for theft and burglary and many will have a number of expensive electrical items which will need protecting, so foregoing insurance could prove very costly in the long run.”

How students can protect their possessions

There are a number of things to think about before choosing cover to protect your possessions while you are at university.

You may, for example, be able to get covered under your parents’ contents policy, which is a great way to avoid shelling out for a separate policy.

And the good news is that MoneySupermarket research shows that several insurers will extend the same level of cover provided on a parent’s policy for children away at university at no extra cost.

Aviva and esure, for example, will both cover students living away at university on their parents’ policies up to the total sum insured, while Marks & Spencer Premier insurance offers unlimited cover for its policyholders’ student children.

Other insurers that offer some cover for students as standard with their parents’ policies include Churchill, which restricts the claim amount to £4,000, and Direct Line, which will pay out on claims of up to 10% of the total sum insured.

Harrison said: “It’s vital to take out adequate insurance to protect belongings such as iPods, laptops and mobile phones and one way of bringing 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 may lead to them losing any no claims discount and result in increased premiums in the future.”

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What else you should know

Other things to consider include whether the cover you will be provided with via your parents’ insurance will include personal possessions insurance to protect valuable items such as iPods and laptops while you are out and about with them.

With Aviva, for example, this type of cover does not come automatically with its standard contents policy, meaning that you will definitely not be covered if your parents have not chosen this option.

“It is essential to read the small print as cover levels can vary between providers from those on the existing policy,” Harrison added.

Given the fact that students today have so many valuable gadgets on them all the time, it may be worth checking out providers such as Endsleigh who offer specific student policies if you cannot get personal belongings cover through your parents’ insurance.

For a student taking English at Birmingham University and living in a shared house with two others in the nearby student area, its Laptop, Phone & Contents bundle, which includes cover for the loss or theft of your laptop or mobile anywhere in the UK, would cost £9.99 a month.

However, if your laptop is worth more than £750, then it also has a second option priced at £13.50 a month and offering the same cover up to £1,500.

Protect your motor too

Students lucky enough to have their own cars also need to think carefully before taking their vehicles to university with them as the postcode you live in can heavily affect your premium.

Harrison said: “The change of address could increase students’ premiums, potentially pushing the total expense of running a car beyond what many can afford.”

This is particularly important as most student digs are in less-than-salubrious areas.

The postcode in the Birmingham student area mentioned above, for example, is viewed as relatively high risk by insurers and could therefore push the driver’s premiums up considerably if his or her parents live in an area that has statistically fewer car thefts.

As with failing to take out contents insurance, not notifying your insurer about your change of address could prove a big mistake, though, as it could result in any future claims being rejected.

“Those who do decide to take their cars with them should notify their insurer so they can amend their policy details to reflect their change in living situation,” Harrison said. “Otherwise, they could find themselves with no car and no payout to buy a new one.”

If your current insurer does want to increase your premiums by a significant amount, it may therefore be better to leave your car at home initially and shop around for a better deal with your new postcode when your policy comes up for renewal.

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