We wouldn’t be surprised if contents insurance isn’t high on your list of must-haves for university. But, if you value your possessions, then getting cover for things you couldn’t possibly do without could make sense. In this guide we discuss what contents insurance is and how it could make a difference to your time away at university.
What is contents insurance?
OK. So, pretend you’re a giant. Pick your house up. Turn it upside down and shake it. Everything that falls out is content.
Fridges, laptops, drawers, games consuls, books, glasses, cutlery, towels, bedding, bicycles, everything that is not a fixed part of the actual structure of the building will usually be included in your contents insurance cover.
If you rent through a private landlord, they will usually take out buildings insurance for the actual building, but your contents are your own responsibility.
So unless you have contents insurance, through your own policy or under your parents’ policy, you won’t be covered if anything goes wrong. Or goes missing. Or gets broken. Inside or outside the property.
How contents insurance impacts students
For a lot of students, this will be the first time they’ve lived in their own place. That new-found independence comes with a lot of new things to think about. Things like insurance that may have been previously taken care of by your parents.
Many students will fill their new place with the possessions required to make it feel like home. TV, laptop, mobile phone, bundles of books, records (for the retro-minded) may be considered necessities, as are the clothes and additional items needed to make you look and feel your best.
So, should the need ever arise to make a claim, it’s good to know you’re covered and that the loss, damage or theft of your possessions won’t set back your semester.
So, when you’re sharing accommodation for the first time with many people you may not know so well, knowing your possessions are covered against damage; theft or loss (subject to excesses, exclusions and limits in the policy) may be one less thing to be concerned about.
Understanding student contents cover
Contents insurance helps to cover you against risks to your possessions. So if you think there’s a chance of your things being stolen, or accidentally damaged, or damaged by fire or storms, then you should consider being insured.
If you’re thinking of getting a quote for contents insurance familiarise yourself with these terms:
Excess – This is the portion of the claim you pay. If your excess was £50 and you were claiming for a laptop that cost £500 the pay-out would be £450. You would need to pay £50 to that amount.
Walk-in theft – A clause in your insurance cover where no lock is required or forced entry to be recorded for you to be covered by your insurance.
Buildings insurance – This covers the cost of repairing or replacing damage to the structure of the building, including shed or garages, drainage, pipes and cables. It does not cover you for damage to your contents.
Exclusions – These are clauses in your policy that specify certain events that you are not covered for.
Getting a quote is super simple
You can do a quote online and it’s quite an easy task, too.
First, you’ll need to create an inventory (checklist) of all your possessions and how much each item would cost to replace as new. You will be asked to work out the replacement value of your possessions when you take out a policy.
Be as accurate as possible. Under-estimating will leave you underinsured which could result in a claims payment being reduced or the claim declined altogether.
Most policies have a single item limit. This is the maximum value of any single item among your possessions. If you have anything that exceeds this limit (such as a musical instrument or a bike), then you will have to declare this separately to the combined value of the rest of your possessions.
Most policies will cover you in the event that your possessions are stolen or damaged by fire or flood, but not always for accidental damage. You may need to take out optional extra cover to make sure (subject to excesses, exclusions and limits in the policy) you are insured should the unexpected happen.
This is important. When taking out insurance, it’s essential that the cover you have meets as many of your needs as possible, not just some.
So, if your laptop is covered in the home, but not when you’re studying in a public library for example, then you might want to consider adding personal possessions to your policy to cover your belongings away from your home that are worth less than £1000.
Do students need contents insurance?
Contents insurance provides cover for possessions that might be at risk from theft, fire, storm or accidental damage. Having this type of cover may (subject to excesses, exclusions and limits in the policy) allow you to replace your possessions as new and may help to limit any further disruption to your studies.
While items are only covered on the policy against insured events, this cover can also act as a fall-back plan that helps safeguard possessions from eventualities you can’t predict. If this suits your demands and needs, then contents insurance could work for you.
Are students covered by their parents’ contents insurance policy?
Many students assume that their possessions are covered by their parents’ home insurance. This is true in many cases but not all.
You may be covered for accidental damage, theft and loss under a ‘temporarily removed from home’ section. This cover may only cover your possessions while in the home, so it’s important to check.
Some of the disadvantages of not having your own contents insurance are:
- Your parent’s home insurance may not fully meet the level of cover that you need for university
- Any claim you make will affect your parent’s premium when they renew their policy
Some insurers will cover items taken away to university on your parents’ insurance. But, in the event of a claim this could mean that your parents may lose any discount they’ve built up for not claiming.
What if you can’t get insured?
Some insurers won’t insure students under 18. If you are under 18, ask your parents to consult their insurer to arrange for contents insurance for the items you are taking to university with you.
Living in halls of residence
Most first-year students will live in halls of residence. Check with your university if contents insurance is included with this and what restrictions apply.
Again, many insurers won’t cover students living in halls of residence, so you may need to arrange cover under your parents’ policy.
There are many ways to add extra cover to your contents insurance. Here are just a few:
One morning, in the rush to get ready for a lecture, you accidentally drop and smash your laptop in your bedroom. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t be covered in these circumstances, unless you add accidental damage cover (which is also subject to excesses, exclusions and limits in the policy). This would only be covered inside your home. Cover away from the home is explained below.
Contents insurance means providing cover for your items while they’re in your home. However, you can add extra cover that ensures they’re covered while you’re out and about (subject to excesses, exclusions and limits in the policy). This could be invaluable if your phone or laptop is stolen while you’re studying, for example, in a café or public library.
Contents insurance with MORE THAN
At the end of the day you are responsible for your possessions; not your landlord or your parents. So, if you value them, or you would like to insure them against eventualities, then getting a quote may be right for you.
Add as many details as possible about your possessions and get the right cover for your needs.
Remember, you shouldn’t solely rely on insurance to provide cover for your possessions. Make sure that you’re doing everything to keep your home secure.
However, if you think you need added peace of mind then contents insurance may work for you.