Contents insurance is one of those bills your parents will always have taken care of. One of life’s essentials that was always handled and not something you had to worry about. Until now.
Now you’re a student away from home, contents insurance is something you definitely need to think about.
There are lots of statistics around crime and loss and we won’t depress you with them here. Suffice to say, students tend to be victims of crime more than other social groups for a variety of reasons.
To check crime rates for your university, check out this page.
While we cannot prevent you from being a victim, we can provide the information you need to mitigate the loss associated with theft, burglary and damage.
That’s where contents insurance comes in.
Student contents insurance covers your belongings while you’re in university accommodation or renting with a private landlord.
It just covers your property like your clothes, phone, laptop, tablets, cameras, course equipment and anything else you own.
It does not cover the building, the fabric of the room or the property. You’ll need property insurance for that. Fortunately, as a student you won’t need to worry about that.
The university or landlord will be responsible for the property. All you need to worry about is your personal items.
Which is what contents insurance is designed to cover.
Student contents insurance will cover your personal belongings from theft or damage.
There will be clauses in most contents insurance with limitations as to what is covered, from what and the types of damage covered, but that’s the basics.
Most contents insurance is taken out with a value. For example, contents insurance with £15,000 personal items cover.
That means, should the worst happen, you could claim up to that £15,000 from the insurer.
The insurer will require a full inventory of the loss and probably try to minimise the payout, but that’s basically how it works.
As long as you can prove your stuff was worth that much and it wasn’t your fault, you’re covered.
Yes, you do need contents insurance for students. You need to protect your stuff and it becomes even more important if you live in a shared house.
The only common exception is if you live with Sanctuary Students. We provide contents insurance as part of the rent so you won’t need to concern yourself with it until you leave.
There is also an uncommon exception, if you’re covered by your parent’s contents insurance. Some more expensive policies cover students away from home as long as they still live with their parents and return home during holidays.
These policies aren’t common but they are out there. It might be worth checking with your parents before buying insurance as it might save you some money!
Even though you may have a cash coverage amount, you’ll still need to mention more expensive items like phones, bikes and laptops.
High value goods present risk, which insurers don’t like, so they will ask you to specifically mention higher value items.
There will be a part of the application form for ‘items over £x value’. Make sure you mention any expensive items you want to include on your policy.
Also make sure to amend your contents insurance when you change phone or laptop to make sure it’s covered!
There are a few key elements of contents insurance you need to know.
Insurance excess is a cash payment you need to make for every claim. The higher the excess, the lower the premium.
For example, a £250 excess means in the event of the claim, you have to pay the first £250. It’s the same for most types of insurance and it’s designed to prevent people from making claims when they don’t need to.
Some contents insurance for students will include gadgets while others won’t. You’ll see exactly what is covered and what isn’t within the insurance paperwork.
Make sure to check the policy exclusions carefully. We know it’s boring and we know it’s a lot of small print, but it contains essential information.
We mentioned these earlier but it’s important enough to mention again. Not everything will be automatically covered with your student contents insurance.
Some items like bikes, laptops, expensive camera equipment or other items you own will need to be specified within the policy otherwise they won’t be covered.
Be mindful of a term called ‘walk-in theft’. This is where someone breaks into your room or house without leaving a trace of having entered. Some contents insurance doesn’t cover this type of loss, so make sure you’re covered for this, especially while you’re a student.
The insurance market is huge and exceptionally competitive. That’s both good and bad news.
It’s good because you’re spoilt for choice and competition keeps the price sensible.
It’s bad because there is so much choice and nobody does things quite the same way. There’s going to be a lot of comparing to do to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Use comparison websites to get a good deal. Use multiple comparison websites as few will cover the complete market.
Some insurers like Direct Line aren’t on comparison sites so go direct. It can be worth the effort.
Make sure to be as accurate as possible when you apply. Assess the total value of your items, consider whether you need extra accidental damage, damage away from home or any extras.
Don’t leave your contents insurance to simply renew each year. Even though the law has changed to prevent loyalty inflation, it can mean you’re missing out on more competitive deals.
There are a couple of extra things you should know about student contents insurance.
We’re not making any assumptions or judgements here, but insurers are well versed in handling fake claims or inflated claims. They use all kinds of tricks to assess the claim, including voice stress analysis and claims investigators.
Only claim when you really need to.
Insurers are renowned for doing everything they can to avoid paying a claim. They will often use technicalities to wriggle out of paying, so make sure everything you put on the form is 100% accurate to the best of your knowledge.
That includes property details, make and model of your phone or laptop, your age, health conditions and anything else they might ask.
If you have student contents insurance for a year and don’t need to claim, you should get a ‘no claims bonus’ the next year. This will accrue over the years until you’re paying significantly less than you used to.
Claim on the policy and you’ll lose that no claims discount. Some insurances include ‘protected no claims’ but that’s mainly for cars and motorcycles.
You can also expect next year’s premium to be higher if you claim. It’s not fair but that’s often how it is.
The devil really is in the detail with insurance. It’s better than it used to be but there are still pages and pages of exclusions, caveats and conditions with the average insurance policy.
Take the time to read it properly to make sure you’re getting the right insurance for your situation. Ask the insurer if you’re not sure using web chat. Then keep a copy of the chat for your records.