How students can protect their possessions
One in three students fall victim to crime while at university each year, according to new research by Saga Home Insurance.
It found that a quarter of incidents take place during the first few weeks of a new term thieves on the hunt for electronic equipment such as TVs, laptops and iPods.
Andrew Goodsell, executive chairman at Saga, says: "For many students, making new friends and socialising will be higher on their agenda than being security conscious. This could make them easy targets for criminals."
Although new and returning students are likely to have a lot of things on their minds - such as their courses and the people they're going to meet - insurance should also feature high up on the priority list.
Students are often prime targets for criminals, because many end up flatsharing with people they hardly know, or living in student digs where security can be lax. Despite this, according to Endsleigh Insurance, most students take up to £5,500 worth of possessions – including expensive gadgets such as laptops and iPods – to university with them.
So what can you do to protect your belongings?
First of all, always ensure the doors and windows to your room or flat are locked before you go out, and don’t leave any valuables lying around where they can be easily spotted.
Use a UV marker pen or forensic coding liquids to mark your possessions with your name and student ID number or parent's postcode.
It’s also worth making sure you’ve got cover in place, in case you become a victim of theft or lose a valuable item. Before you buy your own insurance, check whether you’re covered by your parents’ home contents insurance.
But although this can be an option, these policies usually only cover the property at one permanent address, and up to 30 days’ temporary cover away from that address. It will also have a higher excess than student contents insurance, and any claim could affect your parents’ no-claims bonus.
Some halls of residence include insurance in their accommodation fees – check with your accommodation officer.
If not, you can take out student possessions insurance. Most policies cover for damage by fire, theft and water, and some also cover for accidental damage. But check the terms and conditions for cover during holiday periods as standard insurance will usually not cover the contents of your room if it’s unoccupied for more than 35 days.
This is more usually a feature of car insurance but it can also crop up in contents, mobile phone and pet insurance policies. An excess is the amount of money you have to pay before the insurance company starts paying out. The excess makes up the first part of a claim, so if your excess is £100 and your claim is for £500, you would pay the first £100 and the insurer the remaining £400. Many online insures let you set your own excess, but the lower the excess, the more expensive the premium will be.
Does exactly what it says on the tin: covers the contents of your home for theft and damage and also may insure certain possessions (jewellery, cycles) outside of the home. Things to watch for include the excess and also the maximum payout on individual items. Another grey area is kitchen fittings, as some contents policies say these are not contents but part of the fabric of the property and covered by buildings insurance and some buildings policies don’t cover them because they regard them as contents.