Heading off to university is an incredibly exciting time. New friends to be made, new experiences to be had and a new place to live. Whether it’s in halls of residence or privately rented accommodation, it’s almost certain that most 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) are all necessities, as are the clothes and accoutrements needed to make you look and feel your best.
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 that were previously taken care of by mum and dad.
According to findings by Staffordshire University’s students union, around a third of all students are victims of crime, with criminal damage, theft and burglary the most common. The average cost of replacing items stolen in a burglary is £906, which can be a difficult sum to come by when you’re a student. Even students who are aware of the need for contents insurance can make incorrect assumptions about cover, so it’s important to be informed and aware of what you can and can’t claim for.
Got it covered?
Many students will assume that their possessions are covered by their parents’ home insurance or by their landlord or university’s insurance. This is true in many cases but not all. Some insurers will cover items taken away to university, but any claims could mean that your parents may lose any discount they’ve built up for not claiming. However, some insurers won’t insure students and those under 18s are unable to take out policies. 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.
If you rent privately through a private landlord, your landlord will 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.
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’ll need to arrange cover under your parents’ policy.
What is covered?
You will be asked to work out the replacement value of your possessions when you take out a policy. Be as accurate as possible with this as 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, 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 extras to make sure you are covered in all eventualities.
Accidental Damage: 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. This would only be covered inside your home however, cover away from the home is explained below.
Personal possessions: Contents insurance means protecting 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. This could be invaluable if your phone or laptop get stolen while you’re at the library or elsewhere.
Personal liability: Adding personal liability insurance means you’re covered if anything happens to contents belonging to your landlord, such as curtains, carpets and furniture – if your property comes furnished. This isn’t a substitution for taking proper care of your rented accommodation and any furnishings provided by your landlord.
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