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Student insurance at university: what you need to know

Whether it's dropping your phone in the loo or falling prey to a bike thief, get to grips with the basics of insurance at university so you can protect yourself.

We spoke to specialist student insurance provider Endsleigh for a (fully protected) crash course in insurance...

Do I actually need insurance at university? I'm pretty careful.

It's up to you. If you're off to uni, getting insurance for your premium gadgets, general contents - or both - could be a sensible idea.

Even for the most cautious of people, accidents can still happen; whether that's dropping your phone or spilling a drink on your laptop. Plus, student houses can be targets for thieves who know that students live there and are likely to have various valuables and tech.

For added peace of mind, insurance can make sure you're protected against these events, so you can get back on your feet quickly.

There seem to be lots of different types of insurance. What are the key ones?

Student contents insurance protects student valuables, such as clothes, desktop computers and games consoles inside the room against fire, theft and flood. Some insurers also include tenant's liability cover.

Gadget insurance covers your electronic devices against theft, loss, accidental and liquid damage. Not all insurers cover against all these risks automatically, though, so it's worth double checking.

Some specialist student insurers provide additional cover options to give students that added protection such as tuition fees and rent protection, as well as musical instrument and bicycle cover.

How do my cover options change when living in halls versus off-campus private accommodation?

Some student accommodation providers automatically have student contents insurance for students living in halls. This ensures that valuable items are protected inside the room against fire, theft and flood. You can check whether cover has been provided by contacting your accommodation provider.

In private student rentals, you may also be covered through your student letting agent, so it's worth checking whether any cover has been provided in your rented house or flat when you sign your contract. 

If I have a break-in at university and have items stolen, what do I do?

Call the police and report the break-in. You will need a crime reference number to support any insurance claim. You should also report the break-in to your landlord or university accommodation office. 

Make a list of the stolen items along with their value. Collect any proof of ownership for them, such as receipts. You can use photos or pictures to help with this.

Call your insurance company as soon as possible to report the claim. Depending on the value and type of claim, they may want to send out a loss adjustor to view any damage.

If my laptop is broken, lost, damaged or stolen on campus, am I still covered?

This will depend on the cover you have. Check the smallprint of your policies to see what it covers and what's excluded.

Cover arranged by your university halls will usually only apply to inside your room, for example, though that might also be the case with a separate student insurance policy. Review what cover you have in place and decide if it's adequate for you.

You can get specific additional cover to protect your items outside your room while you are out and about, on campus and at lectures. This cover may also extend to outside the UK; so if you are planning some trips abroad you may have cover for that, too. 

Can I claim on damage to my possessions or student property as a result of a party I throw?

Contents insurance protects items inside the property against fire, theft and flood. Accidental damage is usually a separate cover section; however depending on the circumstances, deliberate and malicious damage would not be covered.

Some insurance providers also include tenant's liability cover which protects your landlord’s property if you accidentally cause damage to their fixtures and fittings. It may, however, exclude household goods, furniture and furnishings.

If my phone smashes or falls in the loo, what can I do to get it repaired or replaced?

Report the claim to your insurance provider as soon as you can. You'll need to give details of what happened and the damage caused. If your claim is accepted, the insurer will arrange for the repair or replacement of the item.

Not all insurers will replace new for old and may use refurbished phones instead, so check this before you buy your policy. 

Do I need special insurance if I go abroad?

It depends on where you're travelling to, and how long for.

Some gadget insurance provides cover for a certain amount of time worldwide. For example, Endsleigh provides cover against loss, theft, accidental and liquid damage anywhere in the UK, and up to 30 days worldwide on their standard student insurance.

This doesn't, however, include additional cover such as extreme sports; so it might be worth getting gap year or backpackers travel insurance.

Can I be covered at university under my parents' household policy?

It's worth checking this, as your contents could have some protection under your parents' existing home insurance while inside your room at university - though it may not cover you while you're out and about on campus and might not protect against accidental damage.

Again, the detail is in the smallprint. Be aware that if you do make a claim, your parent's no-claims bonus is likely to be affected and you may pay a higher excess. Weigh this up against the cost and cover a specific student policy could offer.

Must-read: The parent guide to university

What insurance documents do I need to take with me to university?

Print any confirmation emails about your halls prior to arrival along with a copy of any insurance certificates you've received, just in case you need to make a claim. This will show your policy number and any contact numbers you’ll need.

It might be sensible to keep copies of receipts and identity documents, so they are readily available in the event of a claim.

Finally, what's the number one mistake students make when it comes to insurance?

Students can often get caught up in the madness of freshers' week. This can mean delaying sorting the less-interesting aspects of adult life, such as taking out insurance for your brand-new laptop or speakers.

Forty-four percent of all gadget claims are made in the months of September and October, according to Endsleigh's gadget claim stats in 2016-17. So if you're going to get cover, get your insurance set up from the moment you move in. 

Which? University provides guest spots to external contributors. This guest post is from Endsleigh, which provides specialist insurance for students. For more advice, head to the free Which? Money Compare service to compare insurance providers and find a good deal.

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