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Don’t pay twice for contents cover at university

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If you are off to university this month, ask your parents to check their home contents insurance to see if you're already covered
Don’t pay twice for contents cover at university

Don’t make the mistake of paying for contents cover when you go away to university, when you could already be insured on your parents’ home contents policy, said financial information firm Defaqto.

It found that most (78%) home contents insurance policies cover student belongings away from the home as standard.

Only one in six (17%) don’t cover student belongings at all, and a small proportion (5%) give this cover as an optional extension.

Where cover is available it tends to be at a relatively high limit – 65% of policies provide cover of £5,000 or higher.

Check the fine print

Most policies will only cover a student’s belongings in their place of residence, and while travelling there and back from home.

For cover outside the student residence during term time the parents will usually have to buy Personal Possessions insurance, which is optional in five out of six contents policies. This covers laptops, tablets, books and the like outside the student home, in places like the library or student union.

It is also worth checking what cover there is for mobile phones as even with taking personal possessions cover, a small proportion of policies (4%) don’t cover mobile phones, said Defaqto. Of those that do, the sum insured might be too low to fully insure a student’s smartphone – 7% of policies have a limit of £350 or less for mobile phones under the personal possessions cover.

Unlocked doors could invalidate policy

There will also be strict security conditions in most policies, particularly for high risk belongings, such as smartphones and gadgets. Cover for items left in a student bedroom will only apply if the room has a separately lockable door, and when it is locked.

Leaving a room unlocked in a hall of residence or shared house will usually invalidate a claim for theft. It’s quite common in student policies to only cover theft if there has been forcible and violent entry to the premises.

Items left unattended, such as leaving a laptop in the library, will usually not be insured. And for those taking bikes to university, they will find the same security requirements as at home – bikes will need to be securely locked to an immovable object, like a bike rack, when left unattended.

Brian Brown, home insurance expert at Defaqto, said: “The first week of the academic year is usually a great time for students and insuring their belongings is probably the last thing on their mind. Unfortunately, student accommodation is often targeted by thieves who know there will be lots of high value tech goods that can be easily sold on and students can be lax with security.

“There are some good standalone insurance products out there specifically designed to cover student belongings away from the home. However, most students will be already covered under their parents’ policy and so could be paying twice for cover. It is worth checking this before buying another policy and seeing exactly what is included. This will probably be the most boring 10 minutes of freshers week but for some, it will be the most important.”

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