Choosing insurance for your student housing

In this blog we discuss choosing the right insurance for your student property and things to watch out for.

People might picture student flats looking like something from the Young Ones, but that's now far from the modern reality. Moneysupermarket.com talk through the options.

By Felicity King-Evans, moneysupermarket.com

With most having laptops, iPods and mobiles, the value of the average student's belongings can easily run into thousands of pounds. What's more, because of the rich pickings that lie inside, student accommodation is a favourite target for thieves.

The Home Office reports that people aged 16 to 24 are three times more likely to be burgled than other age groups.

Contents insurance should therefore be a must for all students. But what are the options?

Relying on the parental policy

Many insurers will allow parents to extend their own contents insurance to cover their son or daughter while at university. However, it's not necessarily ideal.

Often your child's content will only be covered away from the main family home during term time. Also, if your son or daughter is burgled whilst at uni, it will affect your no-claims bonus and could result in a hike in your annual premium, so a standalone policy could be preferable.

Student-specific cover

There are several insurers that offer policies specifically for students. The National Union of Students recommends Endsleigh Insurance, which allows people to 'pick and mix' their policy, adding individual items to make sure everything is covered.

That means rather than paying for blanket cover, which may be more than is required, individual items can be specified. Those wanting to save money and only cover the bare minimum can insure a single item if they wish.

However, it's worth remembering that cutting back on cover can prove to be a false economy if you are burgled and uninsured items are taken.

What to watch out for

Timeframes

Some student home insurance and family home policies will only protect your belongings during term time. Make sure you find out exactly what is covered and when, and pick a policy that meets your needs.

Underinsurance

If the worst happens and you have to claim on your policy, the last thing you want is to find it doesn't meet all your costs.

Reduce the risk

If you can reduce the risk you'll fall victim to burglary, you could also cut what you pay. So, if you're sharing a flat with some friends, one with window locks and an alarm could well be cheaper to insure.

When you're out and about, take steps to protect yourself. Always walk with friends late at night, try to only use cash machines during the day and be careful who you let into your building.

Away from home cover

If you've taken out a policy because you're worried about your iPod, phone and laptop, make sure your provider protects these items even outside your home.

After all, you will be carrying these portable gadgets with you, so it makes sense to protect them from theft and loss.

Bicycles

Whether you're environmentally conscious or just plain poor, you may well decide to invest in a bike to help with travel at university.

These are prime targets for thieves, so chain it up when you're out and about, make sure it's secure at home and double check your insurance covers bikes as not all of them do.

You may need to increase what you pay to include a bicycle but it's worth it if you rely on cycling.