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Student contents insurance

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What is student contents insurance?

Student contents insurance covers students belongings while they're living away from home during university. You can use it whether you live in university halls or in private student accommodation.

Contents insurance covers your possessions from loss, damage or theft if there’s a fire, flood or break-in while you’re at uni. It protects your:

  • Phone and laptop
  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Money
  • Musical instruments
  • Sporting equipment

It’s one of 3 types of home insurance. The other 2 are:

  • Buildings insurance, which covers the building but not the items within it
  • Building and contents insurance, which combines the 2 policies

Most students only need to think about insuring their belongings, as the building is insured either by the university or landlord. Any repairs to the accommodation are the responsibility of the owner, who should have their own landlord insurance.

Do I need student contents insurance?

Student contents insurance isn’t a legal requirement and no one can insist you have it. But it may be in your interest to make sure your valuables are covered.

Without contents insurance, you’ll have to pay to replace or repair your possessions if they're damaged while you’re living away from home. This can be particularly stressful if the item you need to replace is an expensive laptop you need for coursework, for example.  Even if you think you might not ever need to make a claim, having contents insurance offers peace of mind.

There are some instances where you might not need to get your own contents insurance policy. These include:

  • If your parents' or guardians' home insurance already covers you
  • If your university provides insurance for student halls
  • If your valuables are already insured separately

If your parents' or guardians' home insurance already covers you, you may not need to buy contents insurance. Check the policy details though - there's usually a limit to the amount you can claim on a single item, usually £1,000 - £1,500. Make sure it’s enough to cover high value items like a laptop or bicycle. It’s also worth remembering that any claims you make could affect your parents' no-claims bonus. If they’ve built up a significant NCB, it might be worth having your own student contents insurance just in case.

If your university provides insurance for student halls you don't need to buy your own policy. If it's available, the uni should provide information on this. If you aren’t sure whether it's provided, it’s worth checking so you don’t pay for a second policy unnecessarily.

If your valuables are already insured separately you don't need to cover them again in your contents insurance. For example, if you already have insurance with your mobile phone provider or got gadget insurance when you bought your laptop, these items are already covered. It's still worth thinking about covering the rest of your belongings though as even low value items can add up if you need to replace them all.

What our home insurance expert says:

"If you're off to uni and relying on a student loan while you study, you're probably looking for ways to save money. Not buying contents insurance can be tempting, but it could be an expensive mistake to make. With lots of students moving to an unfamiliar area, usually with lots of tech, they're a prime target for thieves. The National Student Accomodation Survey 2023 found that 1 in 20 students have experienced a break in so it's worth making sure your valuables are covered.

Even if you think you'll be covered by your parents' policy or the university is providing cover, don't rely on this without checking the policy documents. This ensures you understand exactly what level of cover you have."

Matthew Harwood, Home & lifestyle insurance expert at Confused.com
Home & lifestyle insurance expert Confused.com logo

What insurance do I need for a shared house?

If you’ll be living in a house share with other students, or as a lodger in someone's home, you can get contents insurance to cover the items in your room. Sometimes also called shared house contents insurance, this usually doesn't cover items in communal areas like a kitchen or living room.

You could think about getting contents insurance for the whole house instead and splitting the cost between everyone living there. This could be cheaper than getting contents insurance for just your room. Insurers may see a single room in a house share as higher risk than insuring the whole household due to the number of people coming and going through the property. But if one of you makes a claim on the insurance it will affect the NCB for you all, so you’ll want to consider your options.

How do I know what amount of cover I need?

The amount of cover you need depends on the total value of the items you need to protect. Think about everything you have in your student accommodation and add up how much it would cost if you needed to buy it all again. Make sure you think about everything, including any furniture you own, clothing and text books - you’ll probably be surprised how much it adds up!

If you need help working out how much cover you need, our contents calculator can help you make sure you’ve remembered to include everything.

It’s important to make sure you provide as accurate a figure as you can. If your cover amount is too low, you can't claim enough to replace everything should you need to. If you cover yourself for too much, you may have to pay more than you need to for your insurance.

Most contents insurance policies have a single item limit, too. This is the most you can claim per item and varies between policies. As a guide, it can be somewhere between £1,000 and £1,500, but check before you buy your policy. If you own any items worth more than the limit, you’ll need to list them separately as high value items. This could include an expensive phone, your laptop or a bicycle.

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Is there anything contents insurance doesn’t cover?

Every insurance policy has exclusions, but you can usually add extra cover for most eventualities. This usually means an additional cost, but if you need the protection it can be worth having. These exclusions usually include:

  • Accidental damage to your possessions – for example, spilling coffee on your laptop or dropping your phone. You can add accidental damage cover can be added to your policy.
  • High value items worth more than the single item limit will need to be listed separately or you won’t be able to claim the full amount for them.
  • Cover for valuables outside of your accommodation isn’t usually covered. For instance, if you’re likely to be using your laptop at lectures or to study at a library, it could be worth adding personal possessions insurance as an add-on. Without this cover, you can't claim if an item is lost, stolen or damaged anywhere outside of your home.
  • Key cover isn’t always included but can be a valuable add-on should you lose your house keys. This can cover the cost of calling out a locksmith and replacing the locks.
  • Gradual wear and tear isn't covered by contents insurance as this is an expected result of using an item over time.

Any claim you make could also be rejected if your insurance provider feels that you’ve been negligent in some way. For example:

  • You’ve made yourself an easier target for thieves by leaving doors or windows unlocked
  • You don’t resolve home maintenance issues that result in items being stolen without forced entry 

Policies usually have a maximum length of time you’re able to be away from the property - usually 30 consecutive days. 

How can I keep my belongings safe while I’m at university?

Student properties can be a target for thieves as they are usually full of laptops, phones and other valuable items, and may be less secure than family homes. Student contents insurance should cover your belongings if they're stolen, but you’ll still want to take steps to limit the chance of this happening.

Here's how can keep your belongings safe at uni:

  • Make sure your doors and windows have working locks. If they don't, speak to your university or landlord about repairing or replacing them
  • Hide your valuables out of sight when you're not home. Don’t leave any expensive tech on display where it could tempt thieves
  • Lock your doors and windows when you’re out, even if you won’t be gone for long.
  • Secure expensive items during holidays or take them home, especially if you live in an area with a higher crime rate. It might mean more to pack, but you’ll know your valuables are safe
  • Mark your belongings. Use a permanent marker to put your name and postcode on them, or use a UV security pen that can help police return stolen items to you

How much does student contents insurance cost?

The average cost of contents insurance for students is £85*, but how much you pay will depend on your personal information and the value of your things.

The area you live in can affect your premium. If you live in an area with a high crime rate, your premium will be higher. 

Having high value items on the policy will raise the cost as they have a greater risk of being stolen and will cost more to replace. On average, a policy with specified high value items costs £86 compared to £64 for a policy with none.* Of course the amount it increases will differ depending on the number of high value items, how much they are worth and what they are.

Using items away from home can also increase your policy cost as it increases the likelihood that it could be lost or stolen.

 *Confused.com data, Sept -Nov 2023.

How can I lower the cost of my contents insurance?

If you're a student, saving money is probably quite high on your priority list. The good news is there are ways you can lower the cost of your contents insurance:

  • Pay annually, if you can
  • Give accurate costs for your valuables
  • Increase the excess
  • Compare quotes each year
  • Check your security measures
  • Build your no-claims bonus

Pay annually, if you can. You might be tempted to pay the lower monthly payments, but be aware insurers usually charge interest. On average, our customers who choose to pay monthly see a 13% increase due to interest charged, so it's worth considering paying upfront to save in the long run.

Give accurate costs for your valuables. Make sure you don’t give too low a price as this means you won't have enough cover to replace the item if you have to claim. But setting too high a value could add unnecessary costs to your policy, so make sure you only put the value you need.

Increase the excess on your policy. The higher your excess, the more you need to pay towards any claim you make. This lowers the cost to the insurer so usually lowers your policy price.

Compare quotes each year for student contents policies to make sure you’re never paying more than you need to. Comparing policies takes minutes, especially if you’ve compared with us before, and is an easy way to save money on your insurance.

Check your security measures. At a minimum, you need to keep your doors and windows locked when you’re out. But you might be able to reduce your insurance costs further by investing in additional security, such as extra padlocks and safes. Make sure you check the type of lock fitting you have is recognised by your insurer as this can affect how secure your home is seen to be.

Build your no-claims bonus (NCB) You’ll earn a year's no-claims discount for each year you go without making a claim on your policy. Your NCB continues to build even if you switch insurers, as long as you complete your policy term, and don't cancel. If it’s your first time getting contents insurance then this doesn't apply, but being aware of it can help you decide whether a claim is worth making.

*Confused.com data Sept - Nov 2023

What do I need to get a student contents insurance quote?

To get a quote we’ll ask a few details about where you’ll be living and what you need to insure:

  • The address and details of your student accommodation
  • Details about you including your occupation. If you're a full time-student you can select 'other' and pick 'Full-time education (student)' from the dropdown list
  • The lock types on external doors. If you're unsure our guide to different lock types includes example pictures to help you out
  • The value of all your personal possessions. It doesn’t need to be exact, but try to make it as accurate as you can. Think about how much you'd need to cover everything you own in your uni accommodation, including textbooks, kitchenware, clothing and furniture.
  • Details of any high value items worth more than £1,000. This could be your laptop, phone, a piece of jewellery or a musical instrument. Most policies have a single item limit so anything over this that you don’t list separately won’t be covered for their full value.
Image of a phone screen showing the home insurance quote form. The screen focuses in on the "occupation" question and shows "Full time student" being selected

Why compare contents insurance with Confused.com?

  • We’re 100% independent and not owned by an insurance company. We’ll always show you our best prices that are available at the time, no matter who they’re from.
  • We're FCA regulated, just like the 76 home insurance companies we work with. This means that we have to follow strict guidelines in order to operate. So when you use our site, you know you’re in safe hands.
  • We don’t offer freebies or gimmicks you’ll never use, instead Confused.com Rewards lets you choose one of four rewards each time you buy a home insurance policy. The choice really is yours.
  • Our experts and consumer champions are dedicated to helping our customers find the best deal for their needs and budget.
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Common insurance terms explained

We know there’s a chance this is the first time you’ve had to buy home insurance and it can be confusing. To make it easier for you to get the right cover, we’ve explained a few of words and phrases you need to know:

  • Excess: The amount you pay towards any claims you make. As part of your quote, you’ll have a ‘compulsory excess’ that you have to pay, and can set an additional ‘voluntary excess’ to help reduce the cost of your policy.
  • Exclusions: These will be listed in your policy documents and let you know what your insurance policy doesn’t cover.
  • Single item limit: This is the maximum amount an insurer will pay out on one item. That's unless you’ve specifically insured an item for a higher value. It may differ between insurers.
  • Sum insured: This is the amount you can claim back if you needed to replace all of your belongings if your accommodation was burgled or damaged by fire.

Need more help?

How do I make a claim on my student contents cover?

If you’re a victim of a theft or a burglary at university, you need to tell the police as soon as possible. This is important for your insurance as well as for reporting the crime. Insurers have a limit as to how long after an event you can make a claim, and you’ll need to provide a crime reference number. Waiting too long risks invalidating your claim.

Once you've reported the crime, or if your items have just been damaged, you need to consider whether to make a claim. Think about how much it would cost you to replace the items yourself and compare it to the policy excess. If it’s less than the excess, there might not be much point making a claim. If it’s not much more than your excess, you think about whether the difference is worth claiming for. A claim is likely to increase your insurance next year and could affect your no-claims bonus. 

If you want to make a claim, contact your insurer. You should gather any evidence you can, including photos of any damage or signs of break-in. You can find your insurer's claims contact details on their website or your policy documents.

If you’ve been the victim of a break-in you may also need to let your landlord know about any repairs they need to make to secure your accommodation.

How many claims can I make?

 There shouldn’t be a limit to the number of claims you make on your student contents insurance. But the more you make, the more you’re likely to pay for insurance cover the following year. It could affect your no-claims bonus too. Multiple claims over a short period can also make an insurance company suspicious of fraud. It might also make finding insurance harder in the future.

Any claims you make need to be declared to insurers for 5 years following the claim.

How much excess should I choose?

The excess is the amount you need to pay towards a claim, usually deducted from your payout. Agreeing to a higher voluntary excess could reduce the cost of your student insurance. But it’s worth thinking about how much you’d be prepared to pay and whether you could afford to pay it. For example, would you want to pay £250 to claim for a £300 bike?

Does student contents insurance cover smart phones?

Yes, most contents insurance policies will cover a smart phone but it might not be the best option for you. If you don’t have personal possessions cover added to your policy, it only covers your phone while it’s in your home. If it’s a newer, expensive phone, it may need to be added as a high value item.

Check whether your phone is already covered. Many phone shops or networks provide basic mobile phone insurance when you get a new phone, or offer it as an upgrade at an additional cost. If your phone is the only item you need covered while you're out and about, you could look at a gadget insurance policy specifically for your phone. This also means if you did make a claim, it wouldn’t affect the NCB on your contents insurance.

Am I covered by my landlords’ insurance policy?

No - your landlord's insurance usually only covers the building. If the house or room is furnished, it may also cover their property but it won’t cover anything you own. You need to buy your own contents insurance policy if you want to protect your valuables. 
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Page last reviewed: 13/07/2023

Reviewed by: Matthew Harwood

After buying home insurance, 96% of Confused.com customers would recommend us (based on 37944 Reviews.co.uk respondents - as of 24/08/23). Read our reviews