Every autumn tens of thousands of parents around the UK send their children off to university with high hopes and great expectations. Some send them off with a little extra cash in their pockets; others provide computers, clothing, and other university essentials; still others provide what is known as student insurance.
Student insurance takes many forms depending on the needs of the student and the desires of his or her parents. It can be simply to cover their personal possessions, or it could include health cover, travel insurance, breakdown cover for their car, and a host of other options. However, make no mistake; student insurance is a good idea if your child will be heading away from home for university.
Contents Cover for Students
Regardless of whether a student lives on-campus or off, the buildings insurance on the property of their residence do not cover their personal possessions under any circumstances. If a fire were to occur, for example, the buildings insurance would cover the cost to replace or repair the physical structure. Public liability cover would take care of any negligence issues on the part of the building owner.
The personal possessions of each student would be their responsibility. That includes clothing, computers, sports equipment, and educational materials. Contents insurance protects the student in the same way renters insurance protects the individual renting a flat in the middle of London.
It may have been possible some 20 years ago to make the case that student insurance was not necessary. However, with the cost of modern electronics you would be hard-pressed to make that same argument today. It just makes no sense to spend thousands of pounds equipping your student for university then sending them off without any protection.
In most cases contents cover for students includes protection against:
- fire and theft
- weather related disasters
- mechanical building failures
- damage or loss from accidents
Gadget Insurance Better Than Nothing
There are circumstances where complete contents coverage is not appropriate for a given student's circumstances. Perhaps the parents are struggling to pay for it; perhaps it is something parents believe children should provide for themselves if they want it. In either case, a less expensive secondary option is gadget insurance.
Gadget insurance covers things like smart phones, portable music players, tablets, laptops, cameras, etc. It does not cover clothing or other personal effects. The advantage of gadget insurance is that it offers protection for the most expensive parts of your student's net worth, while leaving the less expensive things for him to cover out of pocket.
Along those same lines parent could purchase a speciality insurance product to cover a student bicycle. This would protect the student from financial loss in the event his or her bicycle was stolen, damaged by weather, or involved in an accident. Given that bicycles are quite popular among students, this type of insurance might be one of the best gifts you could give your student.
Cover for Coursework
Attending university in 21st century is an extremely expensive proposition. Moreover, even with all the financial assistance available, parents still invest significant amounts of money in their children's education. That's money you hate to lose in the event your student is unable to finish coursework due to an accident, illness, or other unforeseen circumstance.
Covering against unfinished coursework is another option of student insurance. Such cover can be a part of an overall comprehensive policy or a specialist insurance product taken out by parents. Customised cover can be purchased to cover against financial loss for things like:
- tuition and other course-related fees
- boarding expenses
- books and other educational materials
- prepaid meal plans
In a nutshell, any costs you incur in direct support of your student's educational experience can be covered against loss if your child is unable to complete his or her coursework. Parents hate to think of such things happening, but the reality is they do. There is no point in risking your own financial assets when insurance is so cheap to come by.
Insurance Especially Necessary for Foreign Studies
If your student will be studying abroad, don't even think about sending them without appropriate insurance coverage. There is no telling what types of things can befall them in another country, things that could end up costing you dearly. Things you might want to consider covering include:
- Health Emergencies - Standard NHS medical care covers some of the most common illnesses and injuries, even for students studying abroad. And in some cases, if parents are already receiving certain types of income assistance they may be eligible for free NHS care for their students studying abroad. However, if your student is not fully covered, you need appropriate student insurance to pay unforeseen health expenses in case of emergencies.
- Medical Transport - In addition to covering the cost of standard medical emergencies, have you ever considered what it might cost to bring home an incapacitated student who is studying abroad? Medical transport can be extremely expensive, especially when medical equipment and doctors must accompany the sick or injured individual. If you are purchasing health insurance for your student, you might just as well include cover for medical transport.
- Student Travel Insurance - When your student is studying abroad, it costs money to get him or her to and from their destination country. In addition, any personal belongings they are taking with them to university are also at risk during travel. Insurance to cover their personal belongings and any expenses they might incur due to altered or delayed travel plans is a wise idea.
Legal Liability for Students and Parents
Thus far, we have talked about things like content cover, gadget insurance, and protecting against health emergencies, interrupted travel plans, and unfinished coursework. The one thing we haven't yet covered is the nagging issue of legal liability. Unfortunately, liability litigation is becoming more and more popular in the UK. Legal liability cover is becoming more of a necessity as a result.
While your student is away at university, he or she may injure someone else or damage personal property due to his or her own carelessness or negligent. In such a case, who will pay for the damages? If the student does not have the financial resources, it is quite likely that you will be next in line for liability. That's why you need public liability cover for your student.
Public liability for students is no different from liability insurance a business owner, landlord, or professional would take out. It covers a student in case he or she was ever the defendant in a lawsuit based on negligence, carelessness, or random accidents. Legal liability can cover just your student's obligations arising out of litigation or it can include extra cover to pay for your legal barrister, attorney, and court expenses.
Educating Your Students before Sending Them Off
Now that we've covered most of the different types of student insurance, it's important to talk about properly educating our students before sending them off to university. The education we are referring to has nothing to do with their coursework while they are away. It has everything to do with teaching them how to conduct themselves in such a way as to minimize risks that might trigger an insurance claim. Your student needs to know about:
- Drug and Alcohol Use - The unfortunate reality is that far too many student accidents are the result of drug and alcohol use. They can be traffic accidents, slip and fall accidents, or any other type of accident; it does not matter. Students need to take their time at university seriously and stay away from excessive partying. The sober student is a safe student.
- Theft of Personal Property - We like to think of a university as a place of innocence and carefree living. Unfortunately, it's anything but. In terms of theft issues, universities are great targets of professional thieves who are looking for the most vulnerable victims. And since university students tend to be careless and reckless to some degree, they make perfect targets. Your student needs to learn how to protect himself against theft.
- Responsibility to Coursework - Earlier we mentioned purchasing cover to pay for any lost monies resulting from an inability of your student to complete coursework. Though medical emergencies account for much of these losses, student responsibility is the culprit in some cases. It is important for students to understand their responsibilities in completing required coursework to avoid being removed from school by university administration. Some universities will refund expenses in the event expulsion; others will not. Your student needs to understand that.
- Car Maintenance - If you will be providing your student with breakdown cover for their car take the time to teach them about basic car maintenance. A little bit of education in this area goes a long way in preventing the breakdowns that lead to insurance claims. Teach them about oil changes, tyre inflation, etc.
Sending your child off to university is an exciting time and one that makes parents proud. Do not allow that wonderful moment to be spoiled down the road through some unfortunate circumstance that ends up jeopardizing your financial future. Student insurance is fairly inexpensive and easy to come by; there's no reason to leave yourself unprotected when sending your student off to university.
You can purchase student insurance directly from those insurance companies that provide it. Here are some links to companies you have probably heard of before:
E&L Insurance - A specialist insurance provider offering a variety of products including contents cover for students. Their cheapest policy starts at just £1.39 per month.
Endsleigh - This site is brought to you by one of the first names in UK speciality insurance. For students they offer contents cover, bike insurance, gadget insurance, and various options for students studying abroad.
HSBC - Get quotes for several different student insurance options here. Options include cover for your contents, cash, and more. HSBC is an international banking institution.
Cover 4 Students - This site is operated by a company specialising in student insurance for both individual students and those who provide student housing. When you quote and buy here as a student, you could win free rent.
Barclays - Quote and apply for student insurance on this site. Options include contents cover, legal liability cover, and more. Barclays offers a 10% discount when you buy online.
First Student - A specialist insurance company dedicated to providing the best insurance products for students. Their best-selling product is student car insurance but they also have contents policies and other options. They offer discounts for good grades as well.
Saxon Insurance - Saxon is a student insurance specialist offering content cover, gadget insurance, tenant cover, and more. On this site, you can get quotes and purchase your policy.
Hiscox Insurance - This is an independent insurance company offering a wide range of products. in addition to offering separate student insurance, all new home insurance policies they write for customers automatically includes student cover.
If you are not ready to purchase student insurance due to unanswered questions, there is good information on the Internet you can glean. Here are some links to a few sites to get you started:
The Complete University Guide - A site offering a complete library of information designed to help parents prepare their students for university. Endsleigh provides their student insurance information.
Money Super Market - No quote comparisons here for student insurance, but they do offer a basic guide that may answer some of your questions. If you choose to purchase insurance, they collaborate with Endsleigh.
The Guardian's Student Insurance Guide - In 2010 the Guardian published a basic guide to student insurance. It includes helpful information for both students and their parents.