There’s a common misconception that, when your child departs for university, their possessions will automatically be covered under your home insurance policy. However, this isn’t always the case, and it’s important to take the time to understand what insurance your child might need for their gadgets and contents while living in university halls of accommodation. After all, it only takes a second to lose or damage a gadget, leaving your child (who may not be able to afford a replacement) without any means of phoning home or completing their university work.
Assessing the value of possessions
It’s easy to wildly underestimate the value of your gadgets. Everyone remembers the large ticket items, such as their laptops, mobile 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, such as Fitbits or MP3 players (which your child will undoubtedly want to take to uni with them). As the value of these items begins to add up, it’s important that your child takes the time to properly assess the value of their possessions before heading off to university.
But even taking the cost of replacing their possessions out of the equation, nowadays it’s a hassle on all levels having to live without a mobile phone or laptop should they get lost, damaged or stolen. Making plans with friends, completing uni work and phoning home all becomes much more difficult when they’re left without the means to do so. By making sure that your child has suitable student insurance in place before they head off to university, should the unexpected happen it’ll ensure that they won’t have to live without their beloved gadgets for too long.
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 that they keep inside their uni room, up to a maximum amount.
However, it’s important to note that this cover will not usually provide protection outside of their room for gadgets and contents. The level of contents insurance provided might also not be sufficient to cover all of your child’s belongings - hence the need to assess the value of your child’s possessions before they head off to university. 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 they’re living in halls of accommodation. They’ll also need to check the terms and conditions of the insurance policy provided to understand whether walk-in theft (where the theft has occurred as a result of a room being left unlocked) is covered.
If your child’s halls of accommodation has provided contents insurance inside their uni room, they’ll usually be provided with confirmation of what the policy covers on arrival day.
Will students be covered under their parents’ home insurance in halls of accommodation?
The quick answer to this is – sometimes.
On occasion, home insurance providers will extend cover to your child’s university room – but not always. And often, these insurance policies will not offer cover for the more expensive gadgets, such as laptops and mobile phones, or insure them if they’re taken outside of your child’s uni room, for example, to a lecture or abroad. It's also worth considering that a claim under your home insurance could increase your annual premium at renewal next year. Not only this, but the excesses are also usually higher on home insurance than on a student possessions policy.
That’s why it’s a good idea not to automatically assume that your child’s possessions are protected under your own home insurance policy, and to give your provider a call to see if you are able to extend your cover.
Student contents insurance
Alternatively, if the contents insurance provided by your child’s halls of residence isn’t sufficient, then it might be worth investigating whether they need to take out their own student contents insurance policy to ensure their 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 their halls of residence, is that they can also opt to add on accidental damage to provide cover should your child accidentally damage their 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 a student, who is likely to be relying on their student loan to cover their rent, food and all of their other expenditures, is going to want to shell out £397 for a new smartphone* should it get lost, damaged or stolen.
If your child is especially tech savvy and has a lot of gadgets that they’ll want to take to uni with them – from their smartphone, laptop and tablet, all the way through to their PlayStation or Fitbit – then it may be worth considering specialist gadget insurance to protect their items.
Gadget insurance works very similarly to contents insurance, except that it’ll usually provide extended cover so that your child can take their gadgets out and about with them while they’re away at uni. A gadget insurance policy may also offer additional perks, such as cover for cracked screens, or 24 hour replacement – exceptionally useful if your child is going to be relying on their laptop to complete their uni work. And with the average cost of a laptop reaching £560*, it’s probably not something your child will want to fork out to replace. Making sure they have the most suitable student insurance in place at university will offer you peace of mind that their items are safe and covered while they’re living away from home.
If your child is planning on taking a bike to university (which, dependent on the town they’re living in, is a cheap and convenient way of travelling around campus) then they may also want to consider taking out bicycle insurance to make sure their bike is protected, as this won’t necessarily be covered under their contents insurance.
If they 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. For example, some policies will only accept a lock which meets Sold Secure Gold standards or which has a security rating of 8 or above, as they’re 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 repudiated 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