With students taking a vast array of gadgets to university, they need to study their insurance options before heading off to freshers' week.
It’s all changed since my day. Back then my valuables consisted of a Walkman and a dodgy music collection, all on cassette tape.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that student accommodation can be rich pickings for burglars.
Today’s students are likely to have smartphones, MP3 players, laptops/tablets, games consoles, e-readers and expensive bikes, which collectively adds up to thousands of pounds' worth of gear. And you want to make sure that gear is insured.
There are two main ways to cover your possessions while at university; under your parents’ home insurance policy or by buying a specialist student policy.
Existing home insurance policies
Many home insurance companies will allow parents to add their student offspring to their existing home insurance policy, either for free or a small charge.
But although this is the cheap option there are often restrictions and exclusions. For example, Swinton provides cover for students but won't pay for any loss or damage caused by theft unless violence or force is used to break into the building.
Saga provides cover for students on their parents' policy from £31.50, but this only covers contents at the student's accommodation and travelling to and from their home. So if the student has their iPhone nicked from their bag in a bar, they won’t be covered.
Meanwhile some policies only cover one child at a time so if you're sending siblings off to university, you'll need to check they are both covered.
Another downside is that claims by the student will affect their parents’ no claims bonus meaning their premium will rise in the future, potentially cancelling out any savings made by choosing to cover student possessions the cheap way.
Buying a stand-alone policy
A more comprehensive insurance option for students is buying a standalone policy and there are several insurance companies that specialise in the student market.
Endsleigh is probably the best-known specialist and its standard policy provides £3,000 worth of cover and includes protection against non-forcible entry and new-for-old replacement of items.
However, most banks and insurers also have specific student insurance. NatWest, HSBC and Barclays all offer student insurance policies.
Specialist polices can offer students more tailored cover than adding students to a parents’ policy. For example, Barclays’ student insurance includes cover for library books and accidental damage to games consoles, TVs and sound systems.
Before you buy a specialist insurance policy, shop around to compare the different levels of cover offered by different insurers and the premiums they charge.
Insurance tips for students
Firstly, ensure that you check the security of your accommodation when you arrive and raise any safety concerns with the landlord/halls of residence immediately.
If you’re living in halls, check whether insurance is included in your rent. If it is, check what the policy covers as it might not be particularly comprehensive. Whether you’re living in halls or a private shared house, always make sure the doors and windows to your room or house are locked when you leave.
Check you have cover for your possessions when they are out of the home as you’re probably more likely to lose your phone or laptop out and about than be burgled. Try not to draw attention to valuable possessions when walking around the town or campus.
Check the small print of any policy you buy to ensure everything you need insured will be covered.
Finally, back up files on your laptop to avoid losing all your university work or your entire music collection in the event it’s stolen. Also consider backing-up data on your mobile or smartphone too. However, your main concern if your mobile is stolen is thieves running up a large bill – so report any theft to your network straight away.
This is a classic lovemoney article that has been updated
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