The average student heads to university with £6,000 worth of possessions, yet 41% never take out any form of insurance, new research reveals.
Despite the stereotypical image of students living on economy beans, sleeping on bare mattresses and wearing jumpers full of holes (think The Young Ones), students today live a much more luxurious lifestyle thanks to bigger parental handouts and the availability of student loans.
Research by Endsleigh found that students today consider laptops as their most important possession, followed by mobile phones and clothes.
But despite the average student now heading to their digs with £6,000 worth of possessions in tow, insurance is still not high on their to-do list. In fact, Endsleigh estimates that students underestimate the cost of their belongings by nearly £3,000, a factor which deters over 40% from taking out insurance.
Other reasons for not bothering with insurance include a nonchalant attitude towards burglary and the assumption that they are covered by their parents’ policy.
Endsleigh spokeswoman Rhiannon Harris says: “Students are taking a lot of expensive possessions with them to university now and many of these items, such as laptops, MP3 players and mobile phones are an easy target for thieves.
“It is important that students do not assume they are covered on their parents’ home contents insurance policies as these are not always tailored to students’ needs and there may be exclusions to the cover.”
Tips on protecting your possessions
Student digs are often targeted by thieves, because they are generally assumed to be less secure. Following basic security measures – such as locking all doors and windows when you leave the house empty – can help protect you from theft, but you could also go one step further by asking your landlord to install a burglar alarm, add additional locks and security cameras.
If you are having a house party or are living with a lot of different people, consider getting a good quality lock for your room so you can leave all your valuable items out of harm’s way.
Another reason thieves target student accommodation is that they know the property will house several people, all with valuables such as computers, mobile phones and cameras. One way to protect yourself is to make sure you keep valuable items out of sight, so not to attract the wrong sort of attention. Leaving your laptop on your desk in front of a window, for example, is practically an open invitation to thieves.
Michelle Slade, analyst at Moneyfacts.co.uk, recommends that students also bear in mind the risk of fraud when living in shared accommodation: “Always destroy any mail, which includes your bank details, don't give your PIN or card to anyone and have your cards, chequebooks and other banking information sent to your home address, especially if your mail is delivered to a pigeonhole in a communal area.”
Many insurers offer specialist cover for students living in halls of residence or in rental accommodation., but make sure you shop around to ensure you get the right level of cover.
Many price comparison sites enable you to compare different policies for students, but you could also consider buying insurance direct from a specialist provider or bank, or through a financial adviser.
When shopping for insurance don’t be swayed by the cheapest headline rate. The cheapest quote won’t necessarily be the best policy for you, so compare different deals in terms of what they cover. Once you’ve found the right level of cover, then check out the price tag and see if anyone else offers a better deal.
The main things to bear in mind include the level of excess (the amount you have to pay yourself), whether items such as laptops are protected if you remove them from your property, and if you are covered during and outside of term-time. Finally, some policies have upper limits on the value single items can be worth, so if you do own expensive items then bear this in mind.
Basic student insurance can cost from as little as £20, but your premium will depend on the type of policy you need, where you are studying and your accommodation. Expect to pay more if you want out-of-room cover, own expensive items or want holiday cover.
How parents can help
Typically, it is parents that help get their kids ready for university by ensuring they have all the gear they need as well as worrying about their finances.
But research from esure found that nearly a quarter of parents hadn’t thought about insurance while one in 10 assumed that their own home policy would cover their offspring’s possessions.
Mike Pickard, head of risk and underwriting at esure home insurance, says: "It is very important that parents make sure they have sufficient contents cover in place to protect their child's belongings - either by checking whether it's included in their current policy or taking out separate insurance. Not having suitable insurance in place would hit students hard in the pocket and take a real chunk out of a student loan to replace the type of gadgets and designer gear that entices thieves."
Including your student children, who live in halls of residence, under your own home insurance could end up being the cheapest option for some parents. Many insurers will allow up to £5,000 worth of possessions.