Students now tend to carry thousands of pounds worth of gadgets and items around with them, so it’s a financial necessity to make sure the right student cover is in place.
Students often struggle financially, most simply wouldn’t be able to afford the hundreds, if not thousands, it would cost to replace items such as smartphones, laptops, gaming consoles, bicycles and jewellery.
Many assume that while they’re away from the family home during term-time, their possessions are covered by the home insurance their parents have (if it’s crossed their minds at all), but this often isn’t the case. And even if it is, the cover is often very limited with a great deal of exclusions and restrictions.
Students at higher risk
Home Office statistics show that students have a much higher than average chance of being the victims of crime, with one in three suffering from it at some stage.
This makes them one of the main groups in society for whom home insurance, which is there to protect both possessions and property, is absolutely vital.
What insurance is available?
This guide shows you the options available to students and their parents when considering how best to provide financial protection for possessions while studying at university.
Some standard home insurance policies do include cover for the children of parents while at university, although you should always check the exclusions, clauses and cover levels to check the type of claims students can make.
Extended cover for students as an ‘add on’ might be available at a price on existing home cover, but many insurers don’t offer it as an option.
Three options for students
Essentially, there are three ways for students to get insurance:
- Existing family home insurance – More comprehensive standard home insurance policies include cover for family members when they’re away at university.
- Stand-alone cover – Specialist cover exists for students in the form of stand-alone policies which are deliberately designed to take into account student needs. This is usually the most comprehensive of the three options, but can be the most expensive.
- University accommodation insurance – Many universities offer cover for those students who are in halls and other types of accommodation owned by the university. Such cover can be good value as you don’t ‘pay’ extra for it, but is generally quite limited.
Existing family home insurance policy
For those students whose parents have an existing Home Insurance policy the chances are that they will be covered by it.
The cover often has a number of exclusions and restrictions, so always read your policy wording carefully. The student will probably need locks on their doors, for example, if they live in a shared house or halls of residence.
Most standard policies will only cover one child at university at any time, so if you have a two or more children close together in age, you may need to pursue other options.
‘Add ons’ can often be bought; making allowances for additional children, for example, and increasing cover levels and the scope of the cover if required.
Key things to consider include:
- Does existing home insurance offer cover – As stated above, many policies do, but there are usually more exclusions and restrictions than those that apply to possessions in the family home.
- Away from home cover – Does the cover include possessions when out and about on campus and getting to and from university? With most policies you’ll need to pay extra to have this included.
- Claim limits – Claim limits can be lower than for possessions in the family home. Check these are sufficient, especially as students carry a lot of hi-tech, expensive gadgets these days. If you think they’re too low, see if the insurer will increase them. If not you might have to seek stand-alone cover.
- Check what’s included – Some policies place greater restrictions on what can and can’t be claimed for by students. Some might include bicycles, but others not, for example, and you might want to pay more to increase the number of items which can be claimed for.
- Exclusions – The circumstances involving incidents where claims can be made might be quite limited for students. Many policies will insist on a student having a lock on a door, even in a shared house, or won’t allow claims for thefts from ‘non-secure’ places, such as on campus or in bars and clubs. As mentioned above, items that are easily stolen or commonly broken by students, such as bicycles and musical instruments, might be excluded.
- No claims discount – Remember that if a claim is made for a student-related incident, it will affect your no claims discount just as any other claim could.
- Accidental damage – Does the policy include accidental damage cover? Most will add this on for a small fee.
- The excess – Students typically don’t have much money, so check the excess (the first part of a claim which the insured has to pay). You might want to make sure you set it at the lowest possible level, even if this costs a little more.
Stand-alone student insurance
If you find the student cover on an existing home insurance policy wanting, or the insurer won’t offer it as an add-on, there’s the option of a stand-alone policy.
As with existing home insurance, there will be restrictions and exclusions depending on the policy, which you should check carefully to see if they suit your requirements, bearing in mind the student lifestyle and accommodation situation.
Specialist student cover can be the most expensive option available. Although when compared to some standard home insurance policies that you have to buy a lot of ‘add-ons’ for to make sure the student cover is sufficient, it might work out cheaper .
However, as the cover is tailored particularly for student needs, it’s usually the most comprehensive option. And if you take time to search and compare deals, you might find it’s not that much more.
The key things to consider include:
- Claim limits – Student policies very much focus on individual items, often offering the ability to ‘pick and mix which items you want to insure. You might choose a small number of specific items, or everything you own (bearing in mind there are usually at least some exclusions as to what can and can’t be claimed for). Some policies typically offer maximum single item claim limits of £1,000, while others up to £3,000 or more. Find the policy with the right cover levels you think are needed.
- Period of cover – Some student insurance policies only insure student possessions during term time. If you stay on, during holidays you would need to see if the insurer would extend cover.
- More comprehensive policies – The most expensive policies offer 24-hour student helplines, cover for course fees and rent (restrictions apply), illness and accident and legal expenses cover. Of course, it’s up to you to decide if you think the highest level of cover possible is required.
- Accidental damage – Not all student cover policies offer accidental damage as standard, so if this is a key requirement for you it’s worth checking. Often being young, and typically leading the sort of lifestyles where breakages might occur more readily, students can benefit considerably from making sure accidental damage is included.
- Away from home cover – Most policies include cover for when you’re out and about on campus and in town, but not all do. Double check if you think this is vital.
- ‘Walk-in’ theft cover – Most student policies exclude ‘walk-in’ theft where there is no sign of forced entry. When students are often living in shared accommodation, this can be problematic. Cover for ‘walk-in’ theft can usually be added on for a small charge.
- Specifying items – Students should specify any items they own which are particularly valuable and possibly exceed the claim limit levels on a policy. Laptops might fall into this category, or bicycles and musical instruments.
- Consider separate gadget cover – If you carry a lot of tech around with you, it might be wise to consider separate gadget cover.
College and university accommodation insurance
Many colleges and universities offer insurance to those students living in university halls of residence, or other accommodation such as shared housing, as part of the cost of the accommodation fees.
While this is of course the cheapest option, it’s usually quite limited as it often only covers a student when they’re in the accommodation and doesn’t offer extras which can be tacked on if required.
The key things to consider include:
- Is it sufficient for your needs? – Do you want insurance which doesn’t cover you when you’re not in the university accommodation, or offer extras such as accidental damage and away from home cover?
- Get extra cover – If you accept you’ll only be covered by university accommodation insurance, you might want to at least consider taking out gadget insurance for when you’re away from your room and out and about on campus and in town.
- Claims process – The claims process for university accommodation insurance is notoriously more tortuous than standard home insurance or stand-alone student cover. Check the claims process with the university insurance provider; ask how long on average claims take and what’s needed as part of the claims process.