One important issue to sort out before you move in is insurance. Setting up contents’ insurance can be a little overwhelming if you haven’t done it before, but it’s definitely one of the easier tasks when it comes to managing student life! Here are some pointers to get you started.
What’s included in contents insurance?
Contents insurance is basically insurance that covers any kind of personal possession that you might have in your home. It protects you against things like theft, loss or damage. For example, if your laptop is stolen or an expensive piece of furniture damaged in a flood, contents insurance can help you cover the cost of a replacement or repairs. Perfect for if, like many students, you’re not very sparing with your student loan (…and we don’t blame you).
You don’t have to get contents insurance at all, but it’s strongly recommended if you have possessions that would be costly to replace should something happen to them – for students, that’s often phones, computers and other devices. If you live at home, your possessions will be covered by your parents’ household insurance, but you’ll need to organize your own coverage if you move to a flatshare or into halls.
Like other insurance, you can choose the extent of your cover. Shop around; you can choose to pay more for insurance that extends to items you take on holiday or seek extra coverage for specialty equipment like cameras or expensive jewellery. Make sure you understand the excess – you will typically be liable for the first, say, £50 or £100 cost incurred, and your insurer will pay anything above that amount – and the premium, which is the amount you pay each month. The more extensive the coverage, the higher the premium. You may also incur higher future premiums if you make a claim.
Do students need contents insurance?
You may think that as a student, contents insurance is less of a necessity. In fact, shared accommodation often means that greater numbers of people are coming and going, increasing the risk of theft, damage or breakages. You could get household insurance as a group, however, and add the premium to the rest of your utility bills, then use a bill-splitting app like Glide.
If you genuinely have little in your possession that you wouldn’t mind replacing should it get damaged, then contents insurance may not be necessary. However, there are now very affordable options for students that you might as well choose to get complete peace of mind.
How does contents insurance work?
After you take out a policy, the insurer will send you some policy documents explaining your coverage, which you’ll pay monthly for. Hopefully, you never need to make a claim, but should something valuable get lost, stolen or damaged after one too many house parties, you need to understand exactly how to report it and make a claim.
In the case of theft, the first step is typically to notify the police, as you may need a case or report number to give to your insurance provider. It’s always best to take action as soon as possible after the damage or loss occurs. Once you contact your insurer, they will then explain the next steps to you. Depending on your policy, they may reimburse you for the full cost of a new item, or otherwise, they may pay only what the item would currently be worth. In the case of damage or breakage, they may need information from a third party to determine how much it would cost to make repairs.
How much you can claim depends greatly on the nature of the item, the kind of claim you are making (is it a natural disaster, loss or simply accidental damage?) and the comprehensiveness of your cover. People often decide not to make a claim when they weigh up the amount, they could be paid against the increase in their premiums going forward. If the item is of low enough value, it may be more trouble than it’s worth to open a claim at all.
How to save money on contents insurance
Unlike with other utility bills, contents insurance is something that you can make considerable savings on, if you take the time to shop around and compare prices. Most smaller companies are actually underwritten by bigger insurance providers, so do your research. It pays also to consider if there are any special student discounts available, to save those precious pennies.
Use a comparison site like Moneysupermarket.com, gocompare.com or comparethemarket.com to get quotes before you decide on who to go with. If you already have insurance, you can often give them a call and haggle a little on your premiums, especially if your circumstances improve or you find a better quote elsewhere.
You can save money on your overall premium by including fewer items on your policy. Go for the bare minimum and cover only those items that really need it. If you have a medical or life insurance scheme, for example, you probably don’t need to have protection in case of death on your household contents insurance, too. Finally, you can bring premiums down if you can demonstrate that you take measures to protect your possessions, for example by installing a safe, parking bikes in a locked bike shed, or installing a household alarm system.