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Students urged to study their options for possessions cover

17 September 2014
  • Gocompare.com looks at the cover available on over 300 home insurance plans
  • Huge variation in cover available and restrictions imposed
  • Plus, the top ten student insurance tips

Students heading off to university have been warned to do their homework and make sure their possessions are properly covered before they go.

Most students will have the option of using cover available on their parent’s home insurance policy or buying specialist standalone student contents cover, while increasingly, cover is being offered as part of student accommodation packages.

Gocompare.com Home Insurance compared over 330 home insurance policies* and found that while most (77%) provide some cover for student belongings as standard, the cover available and the restrictions applied varied a great deal.  A further 5% of policies give you the option to buy cover for an additional premium, while 18% don’t provide any cover at all.

The average student takes around £1,750** worth of possessions, including expensive gadgets such as laptops, iPods and smartphones to university so, it’s important to check that you have adequate cover.  In comparing the home contents policies, Gocompare.com home insurance found that the lowest amount of cover specified was a paltry £500, while highest was £25,000.  However, the bulk of policies provide cover of between £2,500 and £5,000 for belongings kept during term time in student accommodation - which should provide sufficient insurance for most students.  Five policies offered unlimited cover, while the remainder offer insurance for students up to a certain percentage of the overall contents sum insured.

Ben Wilson home insurance spokesperson at Gocompare.com commented; “Student accommodation is often shared housing so can be less secure than other properties.  This coupled with the fact that it is likely to house a multitude of electronic items and bicycles, make it an attractive target for burglars.  So, students need to make sure that they have adequate insurance in place to protect their belongings.

“Parents wishing to cover their children’s possessions while at university under the family contents insurance, should talk to their insurer to tell them of the change in living arrangements.  They should also take the opportunity to clarify the cover available and any terms and conditions which may apply.  For example, a common requirement is for the student to live at the family home during the holidays and theft is typically only covered where there are signs of forcible entry.  Parents also need to consider that any claims may affect their no-claims bonus and future premiums.”

Ben Wilson continued, “In addition to looking at their family home contents policy, students intending to live on campus should check what cover is provided.  Student halls often provide a degree of insurance against theft of personal possessions.  But, again, you’ll need to check the policy terms and conditions and decide if you need to top it up if you need to cover specific items such as expensive IT equipment or musical instruments.

“Students also have the option of buying stand-alone student contents insurance.  There are several specialist providers which offer relatively inexpensive policies.  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.”

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 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 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.
  11. For more information on student insurance and other money matters visit http://www.gocompare.com/student-insurance/


Notes to editors:

*Source: Defaqto Matrix of 334 home contents insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (5 September 2014).

**Research commissioned on behalf of Gocompare.com carried out with 917 UK students in August 2012 by Vision Critical.