Safe as student houses?

You might think taking out insurance is just an unnecessary expenditure, but it could save you a small fortune - and what price peace of mind? By Jessica Moore
Click to follow
The Independent Online

OK, so insurance is hardly cool. In fact, many students run screaming at the very thought of it! This is because insurance falls in the "too practical to consider" category, along with handing essays in on time, sticking to your budget and calling your parents.

OK, so insurance is hardly cool. In fact, many students run screaming at the very thought of it! This is because insurance falls in the "too practical to consider" category, along with handing essays in on time, sticking to your budget and calling your parents.

Theoretically, we all know that these are stress- and labour-saving long-term measures. Realistically, though, they are few students' priority. But insuring yourself and your property should be.

You may think your stuff isn't worth enough to warrant the cost of insurance. Think again. Have you got a stereo? A computer? A TV, DVD, iPod and books coming out of your ears? Thought so. Quickly tot up how much all that costs and you'll soon realise that your student digs are a regular gold mine.

Endsleigh, an insurance company endorsed by the National Union of Students (NUS), reckons the average student keeps around £3,000 of goodies in their halls of residence room alone. And there's not just your bounty to pilfer, but the treasures hoarded by the girl next door, and the bloke next to that and so on. Professional thieves know that Studentsville is a lucrative destination.

The NUS, Endsleigh, and other insurers say that one in four students falls victim to this type of crime. The insurance industry estimates that a student is burgled in the UK every four minutes. "It's not worth the risk," says a representative at Saxon Insurance. "Annual cover for students is affordable. It comes down to what's more precious to you: the small cost for insurance, or potential losing everything you own."

If you're moving to university- or college-owned accommodation, you may be covered by a "master policy", where the cost is already factored into your rent. You may also be covered by your parents' home insurance, or they may be able to extend their policy to cover you. Otherwise, you'll have to sort out your own policy - which is as arduous as working out what you want to insure, estimating the total value, and making a few phone calls.

The most basic student policy costs around £18 a year, although the exact price varies, and will be affected by where you live. Get a few quotes before you buy and consider which policies are most suitable for you. For example, do you play a lot of sport? Will you need travel cover? Some policies include credit cards fraud and damage to property. Some cover your whole student flat, others just the contents of your bedroom (which, in insurance speak, can mean anything from just your term-time bedroom to your entire term-time address, your room at your parents and transit between the two!). These simple questions will attract jargon-riddled answers. If you don't understand something, ask, ask and ask again until you know exactly what you're getting. Here's the basic terminology:

Excess

There will be an "excess" payable. If you insure your computer for £1,000 with a £50 excess, you would have to pay £50 if you make a claim. The insurers pay the rest.

New for old

This means that you can replace your old stolen or damaged goods with new models. Otherwise, the insurance company will just compensate you for however much they estimate your three-year-old DVD player might have been worth. "New for old" cover is usually more expensive, but probably worth it.

No sums insured

This means there are no limits on what is covered by your insurance.

The bottom line is, if you are unlucky enough to suffer from burglary or other insurable misfortunes, the experience will be considerably less stressful if you have insurance. "Getting burgled in my second year was dreadful," says Cat, who studied at Leeds. "But at least I could find some positives. My flatmate lost everything - and then had to fork out to replace all her stuff. On a student budget, that's a shocker! But my insurance company brought back most things I'd had stolen. And a shiny new camera certainly does help you feel a little better about a horrible situation!"

USEFUL CONTACTS

www.churchill.co.uk

www.directchoice.com

www.eandl.co.uk

www.endsleigh.co.uk

www.saxoninsurance.co.uk

Comments