September is the month where everything gets back to normal, children go back to school, most people have had their summer holiday and students are off to university or college. Heading to university is a scary prospect for most people as it’s their first time living away from home and if you are a parent you want to make sure your child is covered for all eventualities.
As technology has evolved and become more accessible the average personal possession value an eighteen year old carries at university has also increased. Most students will start a new term at university with a smart phone, laptop, printer, games console, hair straightener and maybe even a new piece of jewellery or designer handbag which they received for their recent eighteenth birthday. Research from the National Union of Students found that students took possessions worth an average of £2,652 to university with an average student wardrobe worth £542. This might seem high but it’s amazing how it all adds up.
What insurance do I need at university?
Technology these days seems to be getting smaller and lighter which means it’s easier to misplace or straight-forward for an opportunist to steal. So what insurance do you need to make sure you are covered in case something happens? People often assume that they are automatically covered under their parents’ home insurance however this is not always the case and the best thing to do is call the insurer to find out exactly what you are/are not covered for. When having this conversation you also want to ask under what terms the insurance will cover loss, damage or theft of items. For example will the insurer only pay out when force or violence has been used to gain entry opposed to a front door accidently being left open?
If you are in a private house share or student halls its worth checking with your landlord what insurance they already have in place. In some instances they will have contents insurance that will cover you, but you must ask the question, never just assume. Once you have asked this question its worth thinking about what exactly you are planning on taking to university and what insurance is required.
If you have a number of electronic gadgets that you will be taking with you or studying a course that requires multiple laptops it’s wise to have your own contents insurance policy. By taking out your own policy you can ensure that high value items such as jewellery, smart phones and any expensive electrical equipment are specified and therefore should you need to make a claim you know exactly what you are covered for.
If you carry your smart phone or tablet with you daily you might want to look into specific gadget insurance. Whilst contents insurance will cover these items to a degree the advantage of having a specific gadget insurance policy is that your gadgets will be covered wherever you go, not just in the home.
Most contents insurance policies will allow you to specify a bicycle onto your policy however if you are planning on using your bicycle as your main mode of transport or it’s of high value you can buy a separate bicycle policy to ensure maximum protection.
Are you studying a music related course? If so, your instrument will be extremely important. Again, check your contents policy as instruments can probably be added on but it might be worth looking into a separate policy to cover loss and damage.
What do I need to do if I am taking my car to university?
Are you thinking about taking your car to university with you? It’s worth having a good think about this decision and weighing up the pros and cons. Where are you studying? If it’s the opposite end of the country in a rural area and you’ve considered all options such as public transport but it’s not feasible, then taking your car is probably your only option. However if you are 1-2 hours from home then have a look at trains or busses as an alternative to taking your car.
Other things to consider when weighing up whether or not to take your car are:
How often will you use it? Will you need to use your car to get to and from lectures or will it just be for socialising and coming home? If it’s the latter then could you use your legs or public transport to get from A-B? Don’t forget students can claim a railcard to get a discount on the trains so why not take advantage of potentially reduced prices while you can.
Have you got secure parking? If you were to take your vehicle to university have you got somewhere to park safely? If so, does this come at a cost? Normally if you are living on a university campus there will be a permit that you have to apply for and an annual fee to pay. Make sure you double check this ahead of taking your car as you don’t want to end up getting fined or having nowhere to park. If you don’t have secure parking and are living in a city centre, what are the crime rates like? Could your car potentially get vandalised? These are things you to need to be mindful of from a monetary perspective as these are all extras that you will need to factor in.
Can you afford it? If you are in the fortunate position that your parents or grandparents are paying for your car then no need to read this. If however you will need to self-fund having your car at university then you need to be realistic with how much it will cost. Add up how much your road tax, insurance, MOT, car parking and petrol will cost you and if it won’t break the bank then go for it!
Do I need to tell my insurer if I take my car to university?
To give you the simple answer, yes! Your insurance policy should always be registered to the address you are spending most of your time at. If you are commuting to university but still living at home, then your home address is still OK. If you are living in student accommodation and take your car with you, your student address needs to be on your policy. You will need to call your insurer to change an existing policy and may incur a mid-term amendment fee and your premium may increase depending on the area you are moving too. If you make a claim but fail to mention your change of address then your claim could be invalidated.
Make sure you are also honest about being the main driver on your policy. Don’t try to cut costs by asking a parent or sibling to claim they are the main driver, this is illegal and is called fronting. If you want to find ways new drivers can potentially make their insurance premiums cheaper, read our first time driver blog here.
Have you got any fresher’s week safety tips?
For those of us that have been to a fresher’s week we can understand how exciting it is! You have no-one to answer to, you can eat, drink and sleep where and when you want and there are so many new people to meet and party with. However it’s important that during all this excitement you don’t forget to be safety conscious, looking after yourself and your belongings. So we’ve gathered some ideas that will hopefully help.
- Always keep your valuables safely locked away and out of sight of windows. If you are having a party in your house share or student halls make sure you lock your bedroom door if possible and don’t leave cash or valuable items in communal areas
- If you have an Apple product make sure you frequently back your device up and register for find my IPhone. If your device is lost or stolen you will be able to track it down and lock the device so it makes it difficult for people to use or sell
- If you have a ground floor bedroom make sure your windows are always locked
- If you have any really valuable or sentimental pieces of jewellery it’s advisable to just leave them at home, is it really worth the risk?
- Always lock the front door! Get into the habit early on of locking the front door every time you enter and leave the property. Whilst this might seem excessive people will try their luck opening doors where possible so don’t get caught out
- If you are taking your bicycle make sure you have a proper heavy duty bike lock that you use whenever you are not on your bike
- If you are living in a private house make sure it isn’t obviously student digs as that could make you a target for groups of criminals. So ensure all your empty bottles and cans go in the recycling and not strewn across the front garden