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Students urged to study insurance options to protect their possessions

23 August 2016

Gocompare.com look at the options for covering student possessions including extending the family home insurance

  • Most (78%) home contents insurance policies include cover for family members while living and studying away from home, but cover levels differ massively from £500 to £25,000;
  • Gocompare.com Home Insurance shares its top 10 insurance tips for students’ belongings.

As we approach the start of the new academic year, Gocompare.com Home Insurance is urging students heading off to university or college to make sure their belongings are adequately covered while they are living and studying away from home

The average student digs contains a wealth of possessions from tech and gadgets (laptops, mobile phones, tablets, TVs and gaming consoles) to clothes, books and any specialist equipment required for their course.  Add up the collective cost of these belongings and it soon becomes clear that contents insurance is a necessity for today’s students.

There are four options for covering student possessions.  Extending the family home insurance, arranging their own home contents cover, buying specific student insurance or cover provided by a halls of residence.

Using the family home contents insurance  

Most, but not all, home insurance policies provide term-time cover for a family member’s possessions while they are in full-time education, studying away from home – provided the student still lives at the family home in the holidays.  Cover will either be available as a standard policy feature or as an add-on for which an additional premium is payable.  However, the insured needs to be aware of the conditions and restriction that apply to this cover.        

A review of over 430 household contents insurance policies*, revealed that while most (78%) will cover student belongings, cover levels vary considerably:

  • 78% of policies include cover for student belongings as standard, 5% give the option to add-on cover for an additional premium, 16% of policies exclude cover;
  • Of the policies covering students’ possessions, cover levels vary hugely:  6% of policies only provide cover of between £500 and £2,000; 41% provide cover of between £2,500 and £5,000; 18% provide cover of between £6,000 and £25,000.
  • Cover limits for theft of student belongings can be lower and conditions and restrictions may apply (e.g. theft is typically only covered where there are signs of a break-in);
  • 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 lostA policy may only cover one student at a time, so if siblings are studying away from home then you need to check that both are covered
  • Check the policy for exclusions – common ones include pedal cycles, musical instruments and money.

Buying a new home contents insurance policy

Depending on their living arrangements, a student may be able to arrange their own home insurance cover.  The number of insurers who will quote for cover may be more limited than for non-students, particularly for shared accommodation.  This option is unlikely to be suitable for students living in halls of residence.  Again, cover and limits will vary considerably between providers so it’s important to make sure you check the policy details to make sure you have the cover you need and are aware of any restrictions or special conditions which may apply.

Specialist student insurance

Basic student insurance is relatively inexpensive and there are several insurers that specialise in the student market.  These policies may include additional benefits specifically designed for students such as a 24-hour student helpline, legal expenses cover and cover for course fees in the event of deregistration as a result of illness, death or accident.  Restrictions and conditions will apply, for example - policies may restrict cover to term-time only.

College and university accommodation insurance

Many people begin their student life in college or university accommodation.  Student halls often provide a degree of insurance against theft of personal possessions, but this may be insufficient to cover specific items such as expensive IT equipment or musical instruments.

Ben Wilson, from Gocompare.com Home Insurance, commented: “Many university or college students own a range of valuable belongings including smartphones, laptops and other electronic items as well as clothes, cycles and books.  But, they shouldn’t just assume that if they live away from home during term-time their belongings will continue to be covered by their parents’ home contents insurance.

“For many students, it may well be possible to arrange cover under their family’s home insurance and this is always a good starting point - it can mean you avoid doubling-up on cover.  However, it’s important to check the policy terms and exclusions to make sure this is an appropriate option.  For example, there may be restrictions on the type of accommodation the student will be living in and cover for valuable items and bicycles may be excluded.  We’d advise people to call their insurer to inform them of the change in living arrangements and to clarify the cover available.  Parents should also note that any claims made under the family’s home insurance may affect their future premiums.  So, it’s also worthwhile looking at and comparing the other student insurance options available.”

  1. Don’t assume that your possessions will automatically be covered by the family home insurance policy, halls of residence 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, in shared accommodation, 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.  Get into the habit of saving essays to external drives.
  8. Don't keep more cash in your accommodation than is absolutely necessary and never keep your PIN codes with your cards.
  9. Don’t leave valuables on display, it simply offer encouragement to thieves.  Register 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 438 home contents insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (8 July 2016).  Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number