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BLOG: Students should think about gadget insurance

Kit Klarenberg
Written By:
Kit Klarenberg

Students who don’t want to spend their loans on replacing lost or stolen gadgets should think long and hard about finding the right insurance cover this autumn.

There can’t be many students who have choosing an insurance policy at the top of their back-to-university checklists.

With thoughts turned to buying text books and saucepans, and how many of their worldly possessions they can safely squash into one car, it may well be up to parents to think about the serious stuff, such as safeguarding valuables.

Most students arrive at university armed with an impressively expensive hoard of gadgets – for both course work and fun.

Let’s tot up the value of a new laptop (£400), a tablet (£200), a smartphone (£400), a games console (£300), a camera (£250) and some speakers (£100) – you’re already into the thousands of pounds with a fairly conservative estimate.

Many of these gadgets are small and portable, and most students are – how shall we put it – partial to the odd the night out, meaning they can be easily lost or damaged.

Their fondness for nocturnality also means students are prime targets for opportunist thieves doing the rounds in pubs, bars and clubs.

And even the bigger gadgets are at risk as burglars know that student homes offer rich pickings.

Parents might want to check their home contents insurance policies, if they think their offspring and their high-value belongings are fully covered while they’re living away at university. Often this won’t be a standard clause in your policy.

While some policies do offer cover for students temporarily living away from the home, that cover might only be for items left inside their accommodation, and not when they are out and about in the library or the campus nightclub. Yet portable items like mobiles are rarely left at home.

The other downside for parents is that ‘away from home’ cover on most home contents policies is an optional extra, and adding it may push up your premium or excess.

Another drawback is that if your kids end up making a claim, it may affect any no-claims bonus you might have.

But with 16-24 year olds the most likely age group to have their mobiles and tablets stolen, some kind of cover seems necessary.

Specialist gadget insurance will typically cover your kids’ devices against theft, loss, accidental damage and liquid damage (even if accidentally knocked into a cider and black in the pub), as well as mechanical breakdown outside the manufacturer’s warranty.

Because it’s a specialist policy, it may also include things the majority of home contents policies wouldn’t, such as unauthorised calls from stolen handsets.

Some providers now cap unauthorised calls at £100 but not all, and more students fall foul of this than you might think.

Almost one in five (19 per cent) Brits aged 16-24 have actually had their mobile phones stolen and been charged by their network for unauthorised calls – the highest proportion of any age group.

Many specialist insurers won’t alter the premiums or the excess if claims are made either.

There are, of course, other things you can do to ensure your kids to take care of their electronics. This is especially important when most students are reliant on their laptops for more than just watching Netflix, particularly when dissertations are due.

Take a look at the checklist below, and ask your kids if they take any of the following precautions already:

  • Do they have a password, fingerprint or PIN protecting their phone? 67 per cent of people don’t, but this is the easiest way to spoil a thief’s fun.
  • Is your child among the 96 per cent of people who haven’t registered their devices on the national property register? And has your child make a note of their mobile’s unique IMEI number? Both these precautions will help the police if you have to file a theft report.
  • How does your child carry their phone about their person? Almost half (47 per cent) of stolen mobiles are pinched from individuals. Of these, more than a quarter (26 per cent) are stolen from coat pockets, 12 per cent are snatched from people’s hands, 12 per cent are stolen from back trouser pockets, and 11 per cent are taken from front trouser pockets. Encourage them to keep them out of sight, preferably in an inside coat pocket with a zip, or a zipped up bag.

*All featured data sourced from Protect Your Bubble insurance claims and consumer surveys