Students urged to study the insurance small print
As students prepare to go to university, comparison site Gocompare.com has warned parents and young people to do their homework on insurance and study the small print.
The average student bedroom can contain a wealth of belongings including clothes, a phone, books, a laptop, a bike, musical equipment, TV and more. Add up the cost of these belongings and it soon becomes clear that contents insurance is a necessity.
There are two main options for covering student possessions - extending the family home insurance policy or buying a specific student insurance policy.
Using an existing home insurance policy
Many home insurance companies will offer student cover as part of their platinum or comprehensive policies or as an add-on to a standard policy. For example, Hiscox offers up to £2,500 worth of contents protection for students' belongings whilst living away at university or college while, Swinton offers additional cover for students in halls of residence or shared houses, providing the room has a lockable door.
However there are issues with this approach. Not all policies will have such cover available and 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.
Phil Paterson-Fox, head of home insurance at Gocompare.com, said: "For many families, it may well be possible to provide cover for a child at university under an existing home insurance policy. It is well worth checking the cover available as it can mean you avoid doubling-up on cover. However, it is important that you check the policy terms and the exclusions."
Buying a stand-alone policy
Basic student insurance is relatively inexpensive and there are several insurance companies that specialise in the student market. Cover4students.com also offer contents cover; a basic policy starting at £15** as well as more comprehensive policies that can be built to your specification. Saxon Insurance is another option; the Student Shield and the Student Shield Plus are policies worth looking into.
Phil from Gocompare.com continues: "Preparing to go away to college can be stressful for students and parents alike, but it is worth taking time to get the insurance right. These days, student rooms are crammed full of high tech goodies and, as a result, student areas can be a target for criminals. There is good value cover available but there are also restrictions and exclusions, so it is worth having a good look at your existing home cover and comparing it with policies specifically designed for students."
Top tips and things to watch out for:
Don't assume you are automatically covered by the family home insurance policy. Those that do provide cover may still have small print relating to locked doors and restrictions on cover outside of the room or shared house.
Never assume that your insurance policy will cover everything you own, items such as bikes, musical equipment and course fees are usually covered as an added extra and for an additional premium.
Expensive items will need to be listed separately on the policy to ensure the cover is adequate.
Look for a reasonable excess, you don't want to be paying a £250 excess for a £350 laptop. Good student policies have low excesses. One example is Endsleigh's Student Possessions policy has a £50 excess for laptop claims.
Check the terms and conditions to ensure you can fulfill the insurer's requirements. For example, they may specify that you lock your bedroom door when you leave the house.
As with any insurance policy, it's important to check the cover limits and excesses before you buy to make sure that you are comfortable with them.
Check the period of insurance, as your policy may not cover your possessions when term time ends.
Whilst many insurers will replace laptops, new for old and sometimes within 24 hours, they can't replace the data the laptop contains. Get into the habit of saving essays to external drives.
How to keep your things secure while at University:
If you are living in halls of residence be careful who you let in, or who comes in after you, as they may not necessarily be a student.
Don't leave your valuables on display in your home or car, it simply offers encouragement to thieves.
Register your valuables on immobilise.co.uk so if they're recovered they can be traced back to you.
Don't keep more cash on the premises than is absolutely necessary and never keep your PIN codes with your cards.