Robin Amlot
ENDSLEIGH, WHICH specialises in insurance policies for students, now offers the option of purchasing insurance via its website. However, it is so far only offering travel insurance and student personal possession insurance online.

It is an attractive site, but I felt rather let down when, on clicking the "immediate cover" option on another insurance policy, I was taken only to the site's shop locator to find the nearest Endsleigh branch office.

For the travel insurance, which offers two levels of cover, standard and premium, and for the student possessions' policy, Endsleigh will take credit card payments over the Internet, accepting Visa, Mastercard, Switch and Delta. Your credit card information is sent to Endsleigh's computers through a secure "pipeline" between you and Endsleigh, making it unable to be read in transit.

Once you have read the policy details you move on to requesting an online quotation. The travel quote will ask you to specify the dates of your vacation. If you opt not to take the luggage, personal effects and travel documents cover, you can reduce your premium by 25 per cent.

The personal possessions policy is not a one-size fits all - students are requested to enter the first part of their term-time postcode and the location will, in part, dictate the cost of the quotation you get.

Research has shown that students frequently underestimate the value of their belongings. The policy will replace possessions on a new-for-old basis, which means new items at current prices. Room contents are compulsory, with cover available between a minimum of pounds 2,000 and a maximum pounds 5,000. Extra cover for items taken away from the room and all risks cover for computer equipment are available as extras.

Among other features, the policy includes, at no extra cost, a confidential 24-hour helpline providing independent advice on the usual student personal problems - such as debt, relationships and other welfare issues, health and medical information, including advice on drugs and contraception, financial and legal issues, and counselling on any subject.

As you might expect from a business which is aiming its wares squarely at the younger end of the financial services market, there is rather more to Endsleigh's website than just the insurance policies.

There is a "student zone", which is operated in conjunction with the National Union of Students, and there are sections on "smart sounds" - music and festival news; "smart adventures" - trips, holidays and outdoor pursuits; "smart views" - reviews of television, video games and gadgetry.

The "smart links" section is also more catholic in its offerings than the ordinary financial services website, with a mix of magazine, music, film and general entertainment sites.

Endsleigh Insurance:

Robin can be reached at