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Students advised to research their insurance options before heading to university

07 September 2015

78% of home contents insurance policies include cover for family members while living and studying away from home, but cover levels vary hugely from £500 to £25,000

As students prepare to head-off to university, Gocompare.com Home Insurance is warning them to do their homework to make sure their belongings are adequately covered while they are living and studying away from home.

The warning comes following a review of over 360 household contents insurance policies*, which revealed that while the majority (78%) include cover for student belongings, cover levels vary considerably: 

  • 78% of policies include cover for student belongings as standard, 4% give you the option to add-on cover for an additional premium, 18% of policies don’t provide any cover at all;
  • Of the policies covering students’ possessions against theft or damage, cover levels vary hugely, from £500 up to £25,000, or even unlimited cover.  While 7% provide cover of £2,000 or less, just over half (51%) provide cover of between £2,500 and £5,000 which would probably be adequate for most students;
  • Cover limits for theft of student belongings can be lower and conditions and restrictions may apply;
  • If parents take responsibility for a student's insurance needs through their home insurance and a claim is made - then their no claims bonus could be lost.

Ben Wilson, home insurance spokesperson at Gocompare.com, commented: “Today, many students heading off to university are likely to take a number of valuable belongings with them including smartphones, laptops and other electronic items - as well as clothes, cycles and books.  But, they shouldn’t assume that their belongings are automatically covered by their parents’ home contents insurance.

“While many home contents policies provide cover for family members living and studying away from home – the cover available, excesses, policy terms and conditions can vary considerably.  For example, there may be restrictions relating to the type of accommodation the student will be living in; cover may only apply during term-time; cover for valuables and bicycles may be excluded; and theft is typically only covered where there are signs of a break-in.

“As such, families need to take the time to make sure what, if any, cover their home insurance offers students.  They should advise their insurer of the change in living arrangements to clarify the cover available and highlight any restrictions or conditions.  Parents should also be aware that any claims made under the family’s home insurance may affect their future premiums.”

Ben Wilson continued: “In addition to the family’s home insurance, there are two other routes to insuring students’ possessions while they are away studying – buying specialist stand-alone student contents insurance, or using cover provided with university or college accommodation.   

“There are several specialist student contents providers, including Endsleigh – who are approved by the National Union of Students - and policies can be relatively inexpensive.  Student halls often provide a degree of insurance against theft of personal possessions, but you’ll need to check the policy terms and conditions and decide if you need to top it up to cover specific or valuable items such as computer equipment, musical instruments or bicycles.”

For more information on contents insurance for students visit Gocompare.com's student insurance guides.

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 and terms and conditions to ensure you have the level of cover you need and that you can fulfil 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 an online property register 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.

-ends-

Notes to editors:

*Source:*Defaqto Matrix of 369 home contents insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (24 August 2015). Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.