While heading off to university is incredibly exciting – taking the next step to adulthood, getting a first-rate education and making a heap of new friends – there are also a lot of things to think about. But while reading lists, sorting out your accommodation and purchasing the stuff you’re going to need in your new place are all likely to be near the top of the priority list, it’s also important to make sure you have suitable student insurance in place for your belongings.
There’s a common misconception that, when you depart for university, your possessions will automatically be covered under your parents’ home insurance policy. However, this isn’t always the case, and it’s important to take the time to understand what insurance you might need for your gadgets and contents while living in university halls of accommodation. After all, it only takes a second to lose or damage a gadget, leaving you without any means of phoning home, completing your university work and finishing your new favourite Netflix series!
What is the true cost of missing stuff?
It’s easy to underestimate the value of your gadgets, especially those that you take to university with you. Everyone remembers the large ticket items, such as their laptops, phones and iPads. However, people often forget that it can prove costly to replace things such as your clothes, furniture, hairdryers and other smaller gadgets, like Fitbits and headphones. And as the value of these items starts to add up, it’s important that you take the time to properly assess the value of your possessions as soon as possible.
But it’s not just the cost involved with replacing your items that makes student insurance such a good idea. Nowadays it’s nearly impossible to function without our mobile phones - after all, they organise our lives. They keep us entertained, act as our calendars, our alarms, and our gateway to the outside world. And that’s not even factoring in the time we spend with our other gadgets, such as our laptops and our games consoles. Our evenings are filled with hours of entertainment, all provided by our trusty gadgets and during the recent pandemic, our gadgets have really taken centre stage.
But imagine if they were to break, get lost, or even stolen? What would you do? By making sure that you have suitable student insurance in place, should the unexpected happen, it’ll ensure that you won’t have to live without your beloved gadgets for too long.
Do I already have student insurance in halls of accommodation?
Some university halls of accommodation provide a level of contents insurance cover while students are staying with them. This insurance policy will usually provide cover for fire, flood and theft for all of the possessions and gadgets that you keep inside your uni room, up to a maximum amount.
However, it’s important to note that this cover may not provide protection outside of your room for gadgets and contents. The level of contents insurance provided might also not be sufficient to cover all of your belongings - hence the need to assess the value of your possessions before you head off to university. In fact, our research* shows that the average value of a student’s possessions at university is £3,041 – a pretty big wedge of cash should anything unfortunate happen while you’re living in halls of accommodation.
Will I be covered under my parents’ home insurance?
There is sometimes the option of covering your belongings under your parents’ home insurance policy while you’re away at university. However, not all home insurance providers will offer this, so it’s worth making sure. While it’s generally cheaper for students to be covered under their parents’ home insurance, it’s not always beneficial for your parents. For example, a claim under your parents’ home insurance could increase their annual premium at renewal next year. Not only this, but the excesses can also usually be higher on home insurance than on a student contents insurance policy.
It’s also worth considering whether your parents’ home insurance will cover you away from your halls of residence (if you took your laptop to a lecture, for example). It could well be that your parents policy will only cover your items whilst they're in your room – so it’s a good idea to check this with their insurance provider to make sure you’re protected for every scenario.
What about student contents insurance?
Alternatively, if the contents insurance provided by your halls of residence isn’t sufficient, then it might be worth investigating whether you need to take out an additional student contents insurance policy to ensure your belongings are fully protected while away at university.
The benefit of taking out additional student contents insurance, as opposed to relying on the cover provided by your halls of residence or your parents’ home insurance, is that you can also opt to add on accidental damage to provide cover should you accidentally damage your items. After all, how easy is it to spill coffee over your laptop when pulling an all-night study session? And it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to shell out an average of £397 for a new smartphone* when you’re already relying on your student loan to cover your rent, food, books and any of the other costs associated with university.
What about student gadget insurance?
If you’re especially tech savvy and have a lot of gadgets at uni with you – from your smartphone, laptop and tablet, all the way through to your PlayStation or Fitbit – then it may be worth considering specialist gadget insurance to protect your items. No-one wants to be without their games console when they’re right in the middle of a mission!
Student gadget insurance works very similarly to contents insurance, except that it’ll usually provide extended cover so that you can take your gadgets out and about with you while you’re away at uni. A gadget insurance policy may also offer additional perks, such as cover for cracked screens or 24 hour replacement after your claim has been approved – exceptionally useful if you’re going to be relying on your laptop to complete uni work throughout the semester. And with the average cost of a laptop reaching £560*, it’s probably not something you’ll want to fork out to replace.
What about student bike insurance?
If you’re planning on taking a bike to university (which, dependent on the town you’re living in, is a cheap and convenient way of travelling around campus) then you may also want to consider taking out bicycle insurance to make sure your bike is protected, as this won’t necessarily be covered under your student contents insurance.
If you do choose to take out bike insurance, it’s important to check the terms and conditions of the policy to find out which bike locks are acceptable, and where the bike must be stored. Some policies will only accept a lock that meets ‘Sold Secure’ Gold standards, or that has a security rating of 8 or above, as these are more difficult to cut through should an opportunistic thief with some good wire cutters try to steal it. In this instance, if the wrong type of bike lock is used, then a claim could potentially be rejected on this basis. Equally, a policy may also specify that the bike needs to be locked to a permanent structure via its frame, rather than the wheel – after all, it’s a lot easier to remove a wheel than it is to cut through metal!
*Student Lifestyle Survey 2017-18