Home insurance for students
Students frequently take thousands of pounds worth of possessions to university, including expensive laptops, mobile phones and gaming consoles. While at university, students are more likely than the average Briton to be targeted by thieves, and suffer losses due to fires and other accidents.
So, while home insurance might not be at the top of your university shopping list, it’s a sensible financial precaution for all students. But before you spring for a policy, check to see if your parents’ contents insurance will cover you while you’re away from home.
In This Guide:
- Why do students need home insurance?
- What type of home insurance do students need?
- What coverage should you get?
- Will you be covered by your parents’ policy?
Why do students need home insurance?
Student home insurance may seem counterintuitive - you’re away from home, after all. But students bring some big-ticket items to university, and while there, are more likely to lose those possessions. Students in high-trafficked halls or bustling shared houses are more likely than the average Briton to be targeted by thieves. According to insurer Direct Line, one in four students will be the victim of theft while at university, with 600,000 students burgled every year.
Students are also more likely to lose possessions to fires. Research from public sector insurer Zurich Municipal and the National Union of Students (NUS) found that 81% of students regularly engage in activities which risk fire, including burning candles and incense, cooking under the influence of alcohol and hanging fairy lights.
Despite the risks, a reported 40% of students don’t have contents insurance policies that would cover any possessions they lost through theft or disasters.
What type of home insurance do students need?
Students don’t need buildings insurance policies to cover the structure and permanent fixtures of the places they’re living. That will be provided by the owner of their halls or landlord of their rented house or flat.
Students should however get contents insurance to cover the repair and replacement of possessions they store in their residences, if they’re stolen or damaged. These possessions may include laptops, mobile phones, musical instruments, TVs, gaming consoles, cameras, clothing and other valuables.
Students may be able to get a standard contents insurance policy, provided their individual room in the halls or house has an industry-approved lock. But these policies will only typically cover possessions in that locked room and not those left in communal areas and shared spaces, like the kitchen or living room. Occasionally, students in shared houses may be able to acquire a single contents insurance policy for the entire property, provided it has adequate locks and they’re kept locked (research has suggested that 40% of students regularly leave their rooms and residences unlocked!).
Some insurers also offer specialised insurance policies for students, which offer contents insurance for possessions kept in rooms in shared houses or university halls, and sometimes extra coverage like tenants’ liability cover.
To get any of the insurance policies, you’ll need to be in full-time education at either a college or university. Insurers will ask you to verify your enrolment with a student ID and will want to know which institution you’re attending and how long your course will last.
Some institutions offer group insurance for students living in halls of residence. But these policies may not offer all the coverage you want so read the terms and conditions carefully before you commit.
What coverage should you get?
When you compare home insurance for students, you’ll want to read the specifics of each policy to see which eventualities it covers.
Some insurers will offer the following coverage as standard, or you’ll have to add it on as an extra and for an additional charge, depending on the policy.
- Tenant’s Liability Insurance: covers you for any accidental damage you cause to your landlord’s property and fixtures and furnishings—the red wine stain on the carpet or the window you accidentally broke, for instance.
- Gadget Insurance: some policies will automatically cover your laptop and mobile phone—likely the most expensive pieces of kit a student owns—while others may require you add gadget coverage on as an extra. Some policies will even cover these items when they’re taken outside of your residence—an extra known as personal possessions cover—so you’ll be able to make a claim if your laptop is snatched in the library or your smart phone taken in a lecture hall.
- Accidental Damage: if a thief didn’t take your laptop or a landslide sweep it away, but you simply dropped it and cracked the screen. Accidental damage cover can compensate you for the replacement and repair of possessions you break. Some policies, however, specifically exclude the accidental damage of electronics, so read the fine print of any policy carefully before you purchase, and before you submit a claim.
- Walk-In Theft: student halls and shared houses are hives of activity, with peers and friends of friends passing through. But most insurance policies will exclude ‘walk-in theft,’ theft in which there’s no sign of forced entry. These policies won’t be of use if your flatmate’s latest hookup swipes all your valuables in the middle of the night. Look for policies that do offer coverage for walk-in theft—they’re out there.
- New for Old or Indemnity Cover: new for old policies give you brand new replacements for insured items that are stolen or broken, while indemnity policies offer you compensation based on the current value of the item taking into account age and depreciation. Indemnity policies come with cheaper premiums, but they won’t be handing you a new MacBook should your ageing 2014 model be snatched.
Will you be covered by your parents’ policy?
Before you purchase a separate student home insurance policy, you should check and see if you’re already covered by your parents’ home contents insurance policy. Of all the contents insurance policies on the market, four out of five will cover children while they’re away at university. 65% of these policies offer coverage limits of up to £5,000 - enough to cover the possessions of most students.
But that coverage isn’t automatic. Some policies will only cover you if you live in university-owned accommodation and not other shared residences. Policies may also only cover one child, excluding you if you have a sibling at university. And if you do make a claim, you’ll wreck your parents’ no clams bonus, making their home insurance more expensive when they have to renew it.