If you’re about to leave for university, you’ve probably had weeks of checking things off of a long to-do list. One often neglected aspect is student insurance. Here’s an overview of what student insurance is and some key considerations to make if you choose to take out a policy.

Do you need student insurance?

If moving to uni is your first time living away from home, you may be unaware of how much your belongings really cost. You likely have a few important pieces of tech, like a phone and laptop. You may also be taking a bicycle for transport. If any of these items were to get lost, stolen or damaged, you’d need to find the money to replace them. This is where insurance comes in.

Student insurance works similarly to contents cover in a home insurance policy. If something happens to your belongings, the insurance may cover the cost of replacements. Unfortunately, university locations often experience higher crime rates, so having financial protection against theft can be beneficial. Similarly, accidents can be common. Something as simple as knocking a drink onto your laptop can put you in a difficult situation. Student insurance isn’t legally required, so it’s down to you to decide if you wish to purchase it.

It’s worth checking your parents’ home insurance policy, as you may be covered whilst away at uni. There are often a few limitations though. Some home insurance policies will only cover your belongings when they’re inside your accommodation. The policy may also not cover against accidental damage. Another important consideration is that your parents’ premium would rise if you needed to make a claim. This option does work well for some students, but have a discussion with your parents to decide if it’s right for you.

Living in halls

First-year uni students will usually stay in halls. Certain unis will provide an insurance policy with the rental agreement, so check if your accommodation does. Again, it’s important to check the limitations of the policy. It may have a single item limit, which is the highest amount that the insurer will pay out for one item. If any of your items are worth more than this limit, you might want to consider taking out your own policy.

A big consideration when living in halls is how much you can trust your flatmates. It’s likely you’ll be living with new people, so can you guarantee they won’t leave the front door unlocked? Can you trust the friends that they may bring round? Student insurance can provide peace of mind for these scenarios.

Private renting

If you’re going to be renting a property and want student insurance, you’ll need to organise your own policy. You may choose to independently insure your bedroom within the property. This will mean that your belongings are covered when they’re inside your room, but not any of the other rooms. Insuring in this way means you’re responsible for your own items, but in shared housing, things can occur that are out of your control. For example, if you’re using your laptop in the living room and your housemate spills a drink over it, it won’t be covered.

Another option is to purchase a policy to cover the whole property. This will, understandably, be more costly than insuring an individual room. However, the cost should be split between all tenants. Every housemate should be made clear on the details of the policy, as you’re all equally as responsible. If another person leaves the front door unlocked and your belongings get stolen, it’s unlikely that the insurer will pay out.

How to save money on student insurance

Student insurance can be a great reassurance whilst you’re away at uni, but many students are put off by the price. When deciding if it’s right for you, consider the cost to replace your important items. Will you have the spare cash readily available to replace them if something unfortunate happens? If the answer is no, student insurance may be the backup you need.

Decide what important items you’ll be taking to uni and know how much they would cost to replace. Check any other insurance policies you may already have to make sure you aren’t doubling up. For example, you may already have insurance on your phone.

If you still feel like you need a student insurance policy, here are some tips to lower the cost:

  • Increase your excess. ‘Excess’ is a set amount that you must pay if you make a claim. Usually, if you raise the excess of a policy, the overall price becomes cheaper. Make sure that the excess is still affordable in case you do need to make a claim.
  • Pay annually rather than monthly. Most insurers charge interest when you pay monthly, increasing the total amount that you pay over the year. Paying one lump sum for the year is often cheaper, so it’s worth it if you can afford to do so.
  • Check comparison sites to find which insurers are offering lower cost deals. Remember that the cheapest policy may not be the best for you. Check what’s covered and what the limitations are to be sure that it suits your needs. It’s also important to check customer reviews from the provider. Read genuine experiences to find out how responsive the insurer is and how well they handle claims. An insurance policy is useless if you’re going to struggle to claim further down the line.

Although not legally required, student insurance can provide peace of mind whilst you’re living away at uni. If you choose to purchase a policy, make sure that the provider is reputable.

Jacqueline Dewey is CEO of Smart Money People, the UK’s dedicated financial services review platform.