Buying insurance won’t be the most exciting thing you do at university - hopefully - but it is likely to be one of the most sensible. Student contents insurance protects your gear against theft, loss and damage, to allow you to concentrate on your studies (and having fun). Going without cover is a risk, given that one in three university students are victims of crime each year, according to Home Office figures. Also student accommodation falls into some of the UK's highest crime hotspots.
One reason is that university accommodation is often situated in the middle of cities and towns, where crime rates are higher. Students also have plenty of nickable stuff, gadgets such as cameras and computers, iPods and iPads, mobiles and microwaves. So you really need to get those personal possessions covered.
Get your own cover
Many students assume they are covered under their parents’ home insurance, but this is rarely the case. You need to buy your own stand-alone cover, it’s your responsibility, nobody else’s. Luckily, it is usually quite cheap, premiums start from around £16 a year.
Even if you live in shared accommodation, every flatmate will have to take out their own individual policy, because you can’t insure items belonging to somebody else. You don’t have to insure any house contents owned by your landlord, that is down to them.
Select the right insurance policy
There are dozens of student contents insurance policies to choose from, and you can start your search here. But first, you have to work out what cover you need. This will largely depend on what kind of stuff you own. Computers, stereos and other electronic equipment are likely to be your most valuable belongings, so focus on those first.
Most policies will only ensure single items up to a set limit, for example, £1,000. Check how much cover you need for any single item, and make sure your policy protects it. Make sure your policy covers all your smaller items, including books and clothes. Quickly tot up their value, they might be worth more than you think. Many policies offer cover for a flat sum, typically around £3,000 or £4,000. Is that enough for you?
Extra protection: do you need it?
You may also need to buy extra cover if you have an expensive musical instrument, or to insure your bike against theft and damage anywhere in the UK. Some student policies can include unusual extras, such as walk-in theft cover. They may also loan you a replacement laptop within 24 hours if yours is lost or stolen - vital if you’re in the middle of exams. You should also buy accidental damage cover as a policy add-on, because in a shared home, things are likely to get damaged or broken.
Even if you take great care of your own stuff, your friends may not be quite sensible. The type of cover you buy will also depend on whether you are in student halls or privately-rented digs. If you are renting, you must also check your home contents insurance policy will cover you during holidays and periods when your accommodation is empty. Many policies won’t cover properties that are left empty for more than 30 or 35 days at a stretch.
Keep a lid on your costs
Shopping around for cover should save you money, and a price comparison site is the best way to do it. But there are other things you can do to keep your premiums down. First, take care of your belongings. You can build up a no-claims discount on some contents insurance policies, just as you can with a car. This should help keep any premium increases in check. You could also opt to pay a higher voluntary excess, which is the money you must pay yourself in the event of a claim.
The higher the excess, the lower the premiums, but make sure you can comfortably afford the excess if you do need to claim. Yes, it’s boring, but you should also read the insurance small print. If your landlord hasn’t fitted the right door and window locks, for example, your insurer may reject any claim for theft or break-in. If the security isn’t up to scratch, tell your landlord to put it right.
Your student days are some of the most exciting in your life, you don’t want to regret the things you didn’t do – such as taking out insurance.