Starting university is an exciting adventure filled with new experiences, friends, and challenges. Among the myriad of preparations, one thing many students may overlook is taking out contents insurance for their new accommodation. But is it essential? In this Blog we’ll look at the pros and cons of taking out contents insurance for both university halls of residence and private university houses.
What is Contents Insurance?
Student contents insurance is cover you can take out to protect your personal belongings while you’re living away from home, usually in student accommodation or halls of residence. Students are likely to have high value gadgets, laptops, and even textbooks, that are vital to completing their course, so it is always worth ensuring that these are covered in case of an emergency.
Student contents insurance is designed to protect your personal belongings from unexpected events like theft, fire, and water damage, giving you peace of mind and ensuring you’re not out of pocket if the worst should happen.
University Halls of Residence
Many students begin their university journey in halls of residence. These are typically managed by the university and offer some advantages:
Security: University halls often have security personnel in the entrance and are covered by CCTV cameras, which can help to deter any potential thieves.
Basic Insurance Included: Some university accommodations include basic contents insurance in the rent. However, it’s essential to read the small print. The coverage might be basic, with many exclusions or a high excess to pay in the event of a claim.
Since multiple students reside in halls, it can be challenging to pinpoint responsibility for damage or theft. Having your own contents insurance in place can be a safety net.
Private University Houses
After the first year, many students move into private rented accommodation with friends. This scenario presents different challenges:
Landlord’s Insurance: Your landlord’s insurance typically covers the building but not the contents. So, if there’s a break-in, your landlord’s policy won’t cover your stolen laptop or damaged items.
Higher Risk: Private properties do not have the same security measures as university halls. This can make them more vulnerable to theft or damage, making insurance even more crucial.
Living at Home
If you live at home and commute to university, your belongings should be covered by your parents’ home insurance policy. However, limits on expensive items will still apply, so be sure they have listed anything particularly valuable on their contents insurance policy. If you are planning to take an expensive laptop or other equipment into university, ensure that the home insurance policy provides coverage for items away from the home. There is usually a limit to the amount you can claim on a single item – usually £1,000 – £1,500. Ensure this is high enough to cover high value items taken away from the home.
Advantages of Getting Contents Insurance:
Peace of Mind: Starting university can be stressful. Knowing your belongings are protected can ease one aspect of this stress.
Coverage for Expensive Items: As a student, you are likely to own expensive items like laptops, smartphones, and other electronics vital for your studies. Replacing these items out of your own pocket could prove costly.
Protection Beyond Theft: Student contents insurance doesn’t just cover theft. It also protects you against fire, water damage, and other accidents.
Things to Consider
Cost: Students often operate on tight budgets. The additional monthly or yearly expense might seem unnecessary, especially if living in a secure environment where basic insurance may already be included.
Excess: Even with contents insurance in place, you will still need to pay an excess (the initial amount you must pay when making a claim). If the excess is higher than the value of the items, it can reduce the insurance’s practicality.
Over-insuring: Ensure you’re not paying for coverage you don’t need. For example, if you don’t own many valuable items, a comprehensive policy might be overkill.
Tips When Considering Contents Insurance
Assess Your Needs: Most items are covered by a general policy. You estimate the total value of the contents of your room in halls or shared housing and notify your insurer. Try and be as accurate as possible. If you underestimate what your belongings are worth, you won’t have the full value reimbursed should you make a claim. If you overestimate the value of your belongings, the cost of your policy will be higher.
Check your valuables aren’t already insured separately. For example, if you already have insurance with your mobile phone provider or took out gadget insurance when you bought your laptop, then these items are already covered. However, it’s still worth considering the remainder of your belongings as even a few low value items can soon add up if you need to replace them.
Student content insurance providers also offer additional cover options for other eventualities. This can include lost keys, or even tuition fees and rent protection. You can also buy liability cover to protect your landlord’s property if you accidentally cause damage to its fixtures and fittings.
Read the Small Print: Understand what’s covered and what’s not. Look out for exclusions and the amount of excess. Each provider will have their own set of exclusions but there are some that most providers will have in common.
Insurance providers will usually set a limit on how much they will pay out for a single item. This means that you may not get cover for the full value of some of your expensive possessions. Most insurers, however, will offer you separate cover for expensive items if you declare them when taking out your policy.
Insurance providers will also typically limit how long your belongings will be covered when you leave your accommodation unoccupied. Usually this is set at 30 consecutive days.
Other common exclusions include accidental damage or theft outside the home, although providers may offer cover for these instances as an optional extra in exchange for increased premiums.
Ask for Student Discounts: Some insurance providers offer special rates for students.
So, do students need contents insurance when moving to university accommodation? The answer largely depends on individual circumstances. If you own high-value items or live in a less secure environment, insurance can be a lifesaver. However, if you find that your belongings aren’t of high value and you reside in a secure university hall, you might decide to forego it.
Tony Buckingham, Managing Director of Buckingham Insurance says, “You should look to take out your student contents insurance policy as early as possible once you know where you’ll be living, so it can cover you from the day you move in until the day you move out. Whatever you decide regarding student contents insurance, always be informed. Assess your needs, understand the risks, and choose wisely. University is an exciting time, and being prepared for eventualities can help you relax and enjoy the experience to the fullest.
If you would like to discuss your insurance needs, please contact us or telephone one of our friendly staff on 01246 575 625 (Clowne) or 01773 748 627 (Ripley). They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.”
Who is Buckingham Insurance?
Buckingham Insurance is an independent general insurance broker. From our offices in both Clowne and Ripley, we have been serving households and businesses across Derbyshire and South Yorkshire for over 40 years. Our brokers provide our customers with professional, impartial help and advice about their personal and business insurance, and our extensive relationships in the insurance markets mean that we can provide tailored cover from the UK’s leading insurance companies and specialist providers.
We aim to offer a truly modern broker experience. We pride ourselves on putting our clients first, and the quality of the service we offer is demonstrated by our growing client base and the high number of clients that choose to stay with us, year after year.