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FEATURE – Contents insurance for students

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11/01/2008

Insurance for students is of paramount importance, with 6.4% having experienced a burglary in the past year. Your Money reports.

Gone are the days when students were nothing more than penniless intellectuals striving to better the world through prolonged education – nowadays, British students are living the life of Reilly and far from being penniless, according to insurer Endsleigh, the average British student now goes to university with £4,200 worth of possessions. And considering the amount of shopping many do while there, it’s safe to say that by the time graduation comes round, that figure is likely to be a lot higher. With homes occupied by full-time students being two and a half times more likely to be burgled than the average home (according to the Home Office), insuring possessions should be a top priority for anyone in university accommodation or student housing.

Insurer Legal & General estimates that 6.4% of students experienced at least one domestic burglary in the past year, compared to the national average of 2.5%. With most students nowadays owning a variety of valuable goods such as PCs, laptops, ipods, DVD players and games consoles, it’s understandable why students remain a top target for thieves. According to research from Endsleigh, 98% of students own a mobile phone, 75% own an MP3 player and 67% own their own laptop.

Many students are also more likely to take a lax attitude to home security, particularly if living in university halls of residence. Students may assume that they are safe from theft if living on campus, however burglars will be aware of this and will often target rooms on the ground floor of university accommodation buildings. Also, because university accommodation is normally shared, either in halls or in a shared house, more than one person is at risk of theft if someone leaves a door or window unlocked, for example. Another frequent problem with shared housing is that landlords will not change the locks regularly, which means that previous tenants may still have access to their property. In cases such as these, where a ‘walk-in’ theft has occurred, that is, where no force has been used to gain entry to the property – not all insurance policies will pay out, so it’s worth checking the inclusions policy for this before you buy.

Andy Dellbridge, spokesperson for Legal & General, said: “We would recommend that any students, particularly those going off to university for the first time, carry out security checks to make sure to reduce the risk of being a victim of theft. As a warning, their insurance is unlikely to be valid if a window or door is found to have been left open so they should always ensure they lock their doors and windows.”

According to Endsleigh, nearly a fifth (19%) of students without contents insurance say the perceived expense put them off while 12% of students who don’t have insurance assumed they were covered under their parents’ policies. Although some family insurance policies may provide such cover, these policies are likely to only offer cover for a certain number of days per year, or if a forced break in resulted in theft of the possessions.

Students on the lookout for a good contents insurance policy should put the following on their checklist: contents of their accommodation, accidental damage and key cover, portable computer equipment, vacation top-up and items such as MP3 players or sports equipment that they may take out of their room. Premiums can start anywhere from as little as £25 per year (example of Endlseigh’s policy for a student with £2,500 worth of belongings) will often be dependent on location, although it is possible to get cover for anywhere in the UK.

So, with a wide variety of policies available and evidence pointing to the vulnerability of students when it comes to theft, there’s no reason why students should take a gamble with their valuable possessions. 

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