Gocompare.com provides the top ten student insurance tips
As we head towards another academic year, Gocompare.com urges students preparing to head off to university or college to study their insurance options to make sure their possessions are adequately covered.
The price comparison website compared over 300 home insurance policies and found that while most (80%) provided some cover for student belongings as standard, the level of cover varied considerably, with some providers specifying limits of between £750 and £25,000 or a certain percentage of the contents sum insured, with most policies providing up to £5,000*.
There are three main routes to insuring students' possessions while they are away studying - using an existing family home contents insurance policy, buying a stand-alone student contents policy, or using cover provided with university or college accommodation.
University/college accommodation insurance
Student halls often provide a degree of insurance against theft of personal possessions - but you will need to check the policy terms and conditions and decide if you need to top it up to cover specific items such as expensive IT equipment or musical instruments.
Using an existing household insurance policy
Most household policies offer some cover for students' possessions while they are living away from home. However any claims made under your parents' home insurance may affect their future premiums.
Stand-alone student contents insurance
There are several specialist student contents providers and policies can be relatively inexpensive. For example, Endsleigh's standard policy provides £2,000 worth of cover for individual items and includes protection against non-forcible entry and new for old replacement of items. Cover starts from as little as £9.99 a month.
Mark Greening, head of home insurance at Gocompare.com, explained: "For most students leaving home for the first time, contents insurance is probably not on their radar. But they are likely to be leaving home not only armed with clothes and course books, but with an array of expensive gadgets, from tablet computers and smart phones to MP3 players and digital cameras. Student accommodation is usually less secure than other properties, is often left unoccupied outside of term-time and is likely to house several lap tops, TVs and bicycles. Thieves know this and some deliberately target student areas. So students need to make sure that they have insurance in place to protect their valuables.
"Utilising the cover provided by a parents' home insurance policy or through a halls of residence is a good starting point and can help avoid doubling-up on cover. However, it's essential that they take the time to consider the value and cost of replacing the belongings they intend taking to university to check that these options offer adequate protection and, read the small print which will cover any restrictions which may invalidate the policy.
"Parents who wish to cover their children's possession while at university under the family contents insurance, should speak to their insurer to advise them of the change in living arrangements and clarify the cover available."
Top ten student insurance tips:
1. Don't assume that your possessions will automatically be covered by the family home insurance policy, halls of residents or your landlord's insurance.
2. Check policy excesses, terms and conditions to ensure you have the level of cover you need and that you can fulfill the insurer's requirements - for example, insurers may specify that you lock your bedroom door when you leave the house.
3. Items such as bicycles, musical equipment and course fees are not usually covered as standard, but cover can be bought for an additional premium.
4. Expensive items will need to be listed separately on the policy to ensure the cover is adequate.
5. Check the period of insurance, some policies don't provide cover outside of term-time.
6. If you live in shared accommodation - each of you will be responsible for taking out your own contents insurance.
7. While many insurers will replace laptops, new for old and sometimes within 24 hours, they can't replace the data the laptop contains - so get into the habit of saving essays to external drives.
8. Don't keep more cash in your digs than is absolutely necessary and never keep your PIN codes with your cards.
9. Register your valuables on www.immobilise.co.uk so if they're recovered they can be traced back to you.
10. 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.
Notes to editors:
* Source: Defaqto Matrix of 317 home contents insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial research company Defaqto (29 July 2013)