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

Do I need insurance at university?

It’s up to you. If you’re off to uni, getting insurance for specific belongings like pricey gadgets, your general belongings, or both could be sensible – particularly if you rely heavily on certain items eg if you use a bike daily to get to classes or a part-time job.

Even for the most cautious of us, accidents can still happen; whether that’s dropping your phone or spilling a drink on your laptop.

Plus, living in halls with lots of people you don’t know well (yet!) means you can’t account for everyone else to be as careful or trustworthy. Will they always lock doors when coming and going all times of the day and night? Who are they bringing into your halls?

Student properties can be targets for thieves who know that you’re likely to have such valuables, and that you’ll be out during certain times.

For added peace of mind, insurance can protect you against these events, so you can get back on your feet quickly. After all, replacing items can be a major hassle and a heavy hit to your student budget.

Figure out how much you’ll need to live on at university, try our student budget calculator.

As a student, am I covered on my parents’ home insurance?

It’s worth checking this before you do anything, as your contents could have some protection under your parents’ existing home contents insurance while they’re inside your room at university – that’s important.

However, your parents’ cover may not cover you while you’re out and about on campus, nor against accidental damage – your policy may need a specific section for this. The detail is in the smallprint so check this.

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, and discuss it with your parents.

Find out more in our full guides to home and mobile insurance.

What are the different types of insurance for students?

Contents insurance protects student valuables, such as clothes, desktop computers and games consoles inside against fire, theft, and flood.

You may need extra cover for items you take out of your room, as well as protection against other risks or dangers like accidental damage (eg from a spilt drink).

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 insurers provide additional cover options to give students that added protection for specific items eg musical instruments, bikes.

You may have heard of buildings insurance, but you don’t need to worry about this.

Am I insured if I am living in university halls?

Contents insurance should be a part of your rent, but you should check this with your housing office or housing provider – perhaps ask at an open day when viewing different halls.

You should receive a confirmation outlining the terms and conditions of your cover when you move in.

Usually, this contents insurance in halls will cover possessions inside your room against the usual threats outlined above, but only up to a certain amount.

If the value of your possessions comes to much more than this, you might want to consider extra cover.

Check the terms and conditions of your cover carefully as these can trip students up. For example, your halls’ contents insurance might not cover against theft where you’ve left your room unlocked.

Alternatively, think again when it comes to taking expensive items to university that you don’t have to. For instance, if you realise after a few weeks that you hardly use your games console, take it back home when you next visit.

Do I need insurance in a private student rental?

When you’re renting a room in a flat or house from a landlord or letting agent, things are a little trickier for students.

Because of the nature of renting, insurers aren’t as willing to offer cover due to the higher risk of damage or theft (with lots of people coming and going, parties etc).

If you still want to take out contents insurance in a private rental, you can either insure just your room in the property, or insure the whole property (and split the cost between everyone you live with).

This second option comes with various complications as it involves everyone being tied to the same policy, so it might be simpler to just getting your own contents cover.

Remember: you’ll only be able to claim on items in your room if your room is locked, and only on items in communal areas (eg living room, kitchen) if there has been forced entry to the property.

Therefore if you have a housemate who constantly leaves the front door unlocked or their bedroom window wide open, and an intruder gets in as a result, wave goodbye to getting a payout.

Also, before signing your housing contract, check that your landlord or letting agent has buildings insurance in place – this is their responsibility. This covers the structure of the property, fixtures and fittings.

However, this won’t cover your possessions hence why you should decide whether you need to take out your own contents insurance. Note, any contents insurance your landlord has in place will only cover furniture and furnishings that come with property.

Do I need special insurance if I study or travel 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 eg against loss, theft, accidental and liquid damage anywhere in the UK, and up to 30 days worldwide.

This might not include additional cover such as extreme sports where there’s an added level of risk involved; so it might be worth getting gap year or backpackers travel insurance.

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

Call the police and report it straight away. You will need a crime reference number to support any insurance claim if you have cover, so ask the police for this. You should also report the break-in to your university housing office/landlord/letting agent.

Make a list of the stolen items along with their value. Collect any proof of ownership for them, such as receipts – this also helps when valuing your items ahead of taking out cover. 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 adjuster to view any damage.

If you’re nervous about speaking to them alone, see if your parents can swing by while they visit as they may have more experience of this sort of thing.

Always lock up

You can’t always rely on those you live with to be as safety-conscious as you – if you’re living in halls, you could be living with literally hundreds of other students, coming in and out at all times of day.

So take extra care with what you can control ie locking your bedroom doors and windows. If someone in your house is regularly being careless (eg not double-locking the front door at night), address it in a suitable manner.

Keep key documents safe

If an incident occurs that requires you to make a claim, it’s possible that you’re going to be in a slight flap. Make things simple for yourself in such a scenario, and keep important documents somewhere you can get them easily.

This might include certificates you’ve received from your insurer (which include your policy number) and receipts for items that prove their value. Back these up online and even print them out.

Don’t assume – check to be 100%

Don’t take insurance adverts at face value when they proudly talk about protecting you should the worst happen: if there’s a good reason for them not to pay out based on what your policy says exactly, they won’t (and they’ll be in the right).

Check your policy

Always check what your policy says down to the word. If you’re unsure, ask your parents to take a look. Your university may have a free legal advice service on campus too. If all else fails, contact your insurer directly to clear anything up.

Where does insurance fit into your student budget? Use our budget calculator to work out how much your key expenses and costs will come to each month.