Best Student Insurance 2016

Phoebe McCrostie By Phoebe McCrostie

Heading to uni? Make sure you’re insured. It may not be your top priority, but according to The Guardian, students are three times more likely to be burgled than the average household, and take an average of £3,658 worth of stuff with them to university.

So your phone, laptop, TV and everything else you’re carting with you is probably worth more than you think. While no poor student wants to add another expense onto what seems to be an endless list, if something goes wrong it could cost you a lot more.

Most students know about insurance company Endsleigh, and you can get a quote from their website here.

But there are other options - try getting a quote from Cover4Insurance and E&L, too. They both offer policies tailored for students.

In this article, we’ll explain your options and provide you with a student contents insurance comparison to help find the best deal for you.

If you are living in halls jump down to find out why you may already have some cover.

In this article:

  1. Who provides student insurance?

  2. Student Insurance Comparison

  3. Student Insurance Reviews

  • What does student contents insurance really cover?

  • Are you living in halls?

  • Are you covered by your parents' insurance?

  • Getting your own insurance

  • Insuring single items separately

  • Already have insurance? Advice about renewing/switching

  • Security tips

  • More insurance available to students

  • Health insurance for international students

  • Who provides student insurance?

    Endsleigh is the top student insurance provider in the UK. It has 50 years’ experience as a student insurer, and is the only company recommended by the NUS.

    It’s usually the first choice for students and comparison websites alike. But it’s not your only option – it’s definitely worth checking out some of the other providers in case another company offers cover that’s better suited to your needs.

    Say you’ve got a particularly pricey laptop – specialist insurance company E&L might be preferable because its laptop cover extends to £5,000.

    Researching student insurance yourself can be confusing. Luckily we’ve done most of the hard work for you. Below is a table comparing 6 insurance companies in terms of the cover they offer, including maximum contents, and options for additional extras like gadgets, bikes and musical instruments, to help you find the best student cover.

    Student Insurance Comparison

    We haven’t included sample quotes on this table – if you’re looking for prices, head to the Getting your own insurance section.

    Don’t worry if you don’t understand all of the insurance terms in the table. You can jump to their definitions and explanations here. By ‘optional’, we mean an optional extra, at an additional cost.

    Maximum Contents
    Laptop cover
    Mobile phone cover
    Accidental damage
    Musical instruments
    Endsleigh (read review here)
    Optional, up to £3,000 (model specific)
    Optional, up to £1,000 (model specific)
    Optional, included on gadget cover
    Optional, up to £1,000 (model specific)
    Optional, up to £5,000
    Natwest (read review here)
    Optional, up to £3,000
    Optional, up to £500
    Optional, up to £250
    Cover4Insurance (read review here)
    Optional, up to £2,000
    Optional, up to £750
    Optional, up to £500
    Optional, up to £3000
    E&L (read review here)
    Optional, up to £5,000
    Optional, up to £500, only for damage and theft
    Saxon insurance (read review here)
    Optional, up to £2,500
    Included for items in room, optional part of laptop cover
    HSBC (read review here)
    Optional, up to £2,000
    Optional, included for items in room
    Optional, up to £500

    Student Insurance reviews

    • Endsleigh student insurance review

    • Endsleigh is the most well-known student insurer, and is the only provider recommended by the National Union of Students (NUS). They offer student contents cover up to £10,000, as well as optional extras like gadget cover, bicycle cover and musical instrument cover.

      You can get a quote from Endsleigh here.

      Their website is responsive and clear, and we thought that the quote application process was the easiest of all the insurers. Endsleigh scores 8.8 out of 10 on Reevoo and its home insurance scores 46% on FairerFinance, an independent company that analyses brands based on customer satisfaction, openness, trust and complaint handling.

      Endsleigh have a customer service Twitter account and usually respond to queries pretty quickly.

      One of Endsleigh's best feature is its 24 hour replacement policy – if your item is stolen, lost or unrepairable, they will replace it within 24 hours.

      You can get a quote from Endsleigh here.

    • Natwest student insurance review

    • Natwest will insure your contents from £2,000 to £14,000. That includes library books, £50 worth of damaged or stolen cash, and £250 worth of digital downloads. They do also offer mobile phone and bicycle cover, but the maximum value of both is pretty low - £500 and £250 respectively.

      Natwest’s student insurance is underwritten by UK insurance Limited and is part of the Direct Line Group.

      The best feature of Natwest's student insurance is its high level of cover - perfect if you're taking expensive stuff to your student house.

    • Cover4Insurance student insurance review

    • Cover4Insurance will protect the contents of your room from £4,000 to £8,000 against flood, fire and theft, including credit and debit cards up to £500, replacement locks and keys, and university property on loan. They also offer accidental damage, laptop, mobile phone, bicycle and musical instrument cover as optional extras.

      The best thing about Cover4Insurance is its super-low excess of £10, as well as protection against walk-in theft rather than just forced entry.

      Their website is, in our opinion, a bit out-dated, and can be hard to navigate.

      You can get a quote from Cover4Insurance here.

    • E&L student insurance review

    • Specialist insurer E&L offers student contents insurance up to £8,000 against theft, vandalism, fire and water damage. Their standard policy includes missed exam and coursework reimbursement in case of injury, personal accident cover and fraudulent use of credit card cover up to £1,500.

      They also offer laptop cover up to £5000 as an additional extra – great if you have a particularly expensive laptop for work or study that needs insuring.

      You can get a quote from E&L here.

      E&L have a 92% positive rating on Feefo (bear in mind this is for all their insurance products though, not just student contents).

    • Saxon student insurance review

    • Saxon offers two student contents policies – Student Shield for students living on campus, and Student Shield Plus for students off campus in private accommodation. Their cover includes accidental damage for items in the room, credit card fraud up to £500, replacement locks and keys, and freezer food.

      They also offer additional extras like bicycles, musical instruments, laptops and sports equipment.

      Saxon is a fairly small company and doesn't have any independent online reviews.

      Saxon is best for a good-value, basic student contents insurance if you decide you don't need mobile phone insurance cover.

    • HSBC student insurance review

    • HSBC offers student contents cover up to £5,000, with laptop cover up to £2,000 as an additional extra. It includes accidental damage cover for items in the room like desktops, mirrors and glass (but not laptops). It doesn’t offer mobile phone, bicycle or musical instrument insurance.

      HSBC’s home insurance, including student insurance, is provided by Aviva. HSBC score 56% on FairerFinance for their home insurance.

      What does student contents insurance really cover?

      Knowing exactly what you’re getting with insurance is not always easy, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. Student insurance is often called ‘contents insurance’ or possessions insurance, but sometimes it’s not clear what’s actually covered under the term ‘contents’. In general, it just means the contents of your room that are permanently kept there, like your clothes, jewellery, household goods, and electrical items.

      It’s not always as straightforward as that, though. For example, desktop computers are usually included in the contents of your room, but laptops and other gadgets such as mobile phones are normally an optional extra, with their own limits.

      So you can be pretty sure that things like your TV and games console are included in your contents insurance, but not your laptop or phone (unless you take out an additional policy). This is because gadgets carry different risks to items that are permanently in your room, and so are considered separately by insurers.

      Bikes and musical instruments are usually an additional extra, too. Musical instrument cover is not offered by all of the insurers – have a look here for bikes and here for instruments for more options.

      Also, policies often have what’s called a single item limit on possessions like clothing, jewellery, electrical items and watches. Endsleigh, for example, asks that you specify valuable or ‘high risk’ items that are worth over £500, up to a limit of £1,500.

      This means that if you had a desktop computer worth £600, you’d have to list it as a high-value item, but this wouldn’t cost you anything extra.

      NatWest, on the other hand, simply has a single item limit of £500 per item. So if you had a watch, or a desktop, worth more than this, you wouldn’t be covered under NatWest’s policy.

      What you’re covered against can be confusing, too. Most insurance policies cover your possessions against damage from things like flood, fire, and from theft. This seems simple enough, but often what counts as theft is more specific than you might think.

      For example, the majority of insurers will only cover you if there is evidence of forced entry into the building – so if your door was unlocked, or one of your flatmates left the window open, it’s unlikely you would be covered.

      Neither will the insurer pay out if, for example, you’ve had a flat party and not secured your valuables. The exceptions to this rule is Cover4Insurance, who understand the difficulty of security in student housing, and so will cover you even against walk-in theft.

      Accidental damage is not usually covered under a standard insurance policy, though most companies offer it as an optional extra, for an added cost. Have a look at the table above to see who offers accidental damage cover.

      HSBC and Saxon Insurance protect the items in your room against accidental damage as standard. This would include things like breaking a mirror, or smashing your TV screen, but does not include your laptop.

      It’s worth checking the excess of an insurance policy, too. This is the amount that will be taken away from a pay-out when you make a claim. So, for example, if your phone is covered for £500 and the excess is £50, you’d get £450 from your insurer.

      Cover4Insurance offers a particularly low excess of £10, but remember that generally, the lower the excess, the higher the cost of the insurance premium.

      Are you living in halls?

      Congrats! You may already be (partly) covered.

      80% of student accommodation arranged by universities has a basic contents insurance policy with Endsleigh, which protects the contents of your room up to £6,000, against things like fire, flood and theft. This includes gadgets like a laptop or tablet, as well as clothing, library books and musical instruments. Endsleigh will even cover food spoilage up to £75 if your fridge or freezer breaks down…

      Not many students know this exists, as it’s not often made clear by universities, so it’s definitely worth checking on the Endsleigh site here to see whether your uni is covered.

      The halls of residence company iQ (which has accommodation in places like Birmingham, London, Sheffield and Bristol) also has this insurance, among other private letting agents.

      So why am I only partly covered?

      One drawback is that the insurance universitys have doesn’t cover items taken out of your room. So if your laptop’s stolen on the way to a lecture, or from a café, you wouldn’t be covered. Neither does it protect you against accidental damage inside or outside your room.

      Accidents do happen – everyone knows someone who’s dropped their phone on a night out or spilt coffee all over their laptop - and these things are expensive to replace out of pocket. No one wants to lose all their coursework or be weeks without their phone. Also, insurance from your university does not cover bicycles.

      So, a good option if you’d like a little more peace of mind is taking out an additional policy from Endsleigh to fill in the gaps, like cover for your laptop, phone and other gadgets.

      The process is the same as applying for a normal quote, so be careful not to add further contents insurance, unless you think you need more than the £6,000 that’s included in the policy.

      A few clicks give you accidental damage and gadget cover, as well as your bike or instrument if you need that too. Insurance for your mobile phone and laptop starts from £9.49 a month. With this as well as the insurance included in your university rent, you should have cover for everything you need.

      You can get a quote from Endsleigh here

      Are you covered on your parents' insurance?

      If you’re not covered by your university, or you’re living in private accommodation, you may still have some level of cover without buying your own policy. Often home insurance policies can, if the right options are chosen, cover student possessions that are taken outside of the home.

      So as long as you live with your family during the holidays, your stuff may well be covered by your parents’ insurance while you’re at uni. Unlike insurance from your university, you won’t be covered on your parents’ insurance automatically. You’ll need to be added on to the policy.

      However, while getting free insurance sounds like a no-brainer, it does have some drawbacks.

      Most policies will only cover contents worth up to around £5,000, often with limits on single items like computers. So if you’ve got a top-of-the-range Mac, or you’re a photography student with lots of expensive equipment, these probably wouldn’t be covered.

      Your parents might not be too happy about it either. According to research by Endsleigh, students are four times more likely to make a claim than any other person. If you do end up having to claim, your parents’ no-claims discount will be affected, and their premiums will increase.

      The excess is also usually much higher than on a student insurance policy, so if you claim the payout may not be what you expect.

      Also, this kind of cover only protects against damage from things like flood and fire, and theft from forced entry. This means that if you, or one of your flatmates, accidentally leaves the doors or windows unlocked, you won’t be covered.

      Depending on the options your parents have, you may not be covered for accidental damage either. Often, your parents will need to have the premium version of their home insurance policy for your contents to be protected against accidental damage. This is the case with Aviva and John Lewis, among others.

      One option may be adding additional cover onto your parents’ policy, such as for personal possessions outside of your room, or for accidental damage.

      Aviva offers ‘personal belongings’ cover as an optional extra to their home insurance. This would cover student possessions outside and inside the room against accidental damage and loss at an additional cost. Not all insurers offer this, though, so be sure to check with your parents’ provider.

      If you aren’t covered by your parents’ or university, or would prefer to have your own comprehensive cover, see the section below

      Getting your own insurance

      Free or cheap insurance from your university or parents sounds great. Unfortunately, it may not be your best option.

      Your parents may not want you to affect their no-claims discount or you might have a laptop that’s of higher value than the single item limit offered by the insurance. You might just want a specialist insurance policy that covers everything you need against all risks.

      If you’d like better cover and better peace of mind, it's best to take out your own, student-specific insurance.

      This will give you comprehensive cover that you can tailor to what you own. You can choose the amount of cover you need, and which possessions and tech you want to insure. So, you can add your laptop, guitar and bike – but if your phone’s not worth much you don’t have to bother adding that.

      In August 2015 we ran some quotes through the top student insurance companies to give an indication as to the best value cover. We got quotes for a second year female student at Warwick University with £3,000 contents, a £1,000 MacBook and a £500 iPhone.

      Prices ranged from £88 to £178 a year so students can expect to pay around £7 to £13 a month.

      At the time cover from Endsleigh and Natwest was almost the same price (£160). You may want to consider that Natwest has greater restrictions on laptop and phone item limits, and will only cover bikes up to £250.

      Cover4Insurance offered the lowest excess, but it was also the most expensive option, considering the cover is the same as that of Endsleigh and Natwest. Its minimum £4,000 contents cover may explain this, but if your stuff’s not worth that then it renders it a bit unnecessary.

      The other three insurers do not offer mobile phone cover. It’s up to you whether you think this is something you really need, and you can buy a separate policy from another provider that specialises in phone cover.

      Saxon’s Student Shield Plus insurance offers very good value basic contents cover for those living in private accommodation, with additional laptop cover up to £2,500.

      Things to consider:

      • Make a list and add up the value of everything you’re taking to uni, including clothes and general items, as well as gadgets. If in doubt, always overestimate. If you’ve got say, a Macbook Air, an iPhone 5s, a flatscreen TV and a few hundred quid worth of clothes and other stuff, you might estimate your contents at about £4,000
      • Take into account any valuable items you might be taking with you that aren’t gadgets, like jewellery. Often policies will have a single item limit of £500 – if you’ve got a watch or necklace worth more than this you might need to take out extra cover. Alternatively, just leave pricey stuff at home
      • Don’t forget to add cover for your bicycle or musical instrument if necessary
      • Check out the maximum cover for things like laptops and phones. If you’ve got a top-of-the-range Mac or an iPhone 7, for example, these wouldn’t be covered on some policies with an item value limit
      • If you’re insuring gadgets, you’ll often need to provide proof of purchase, such as a receipt. Some insurers may not insure gadgets that are older than 3 years (often only a year for a laptop), so be sure to check the details of any policy
      • The price of your cover will vary depending on your age and where you go to university. Students living in what are considered high-risk areas, like London, will usually have to pay more

      Insuring single items separately

      There may be another option when it comes to finding the best deal for protecting your items. If you’ve been reading about contents insurance and thinking ‘But I’ve only got a couple of gadgets worth insuring’, gadget insurance may be a better option for you. Alternatively, you might want a basic student contents insurance with a company like Saxon or HSBC, but need mobile phone insurance as an additional extra.

      This type of insurance is offered by companies like i-Digital and Protect Your Bubble, and will protect your laptop, tablet or mobile phone from all risks - including theft, and accidental damage like screen breakage and liquid damage.

      You might also need insurance for your bicycle or musical instrument if your insurance policy doesn't cover these, or if you need more specialist insurance.

      Gadget Insurance

      i-Digital offers three tiers of cover: Essential, Essential Plus, and Premier. Essential will cover up to five gadgets, each worth £500. So if one of your gadgets is worth more than this, like your laptop or tablet, it wouldn’t be covered. This tier also does not cover loss. Essential Plus covers gadgets up to £750, and includes loss. Premier is much more comprehensive, covering each gadget up to £1,000 (so would probably cover your MacBook), and includes loss as well as extras like download cover.

      i-Digital might be a good choice if you’ve got lots of gadgets to insure, like a phone, laptop, tablet, camera and headphones.

      The first two tiers of insurance, while cheaper, are quite limited. So if you’ve got expensive gadgets (exactly why you would want to insure them…), you may end up having to pay more.

      Protect Your Bubble bases its prices on the specific model and value of your gadgets. Note that Protect your Bubble doesn’t offer protection against loss as standard and does not offer it at all for laptops, MacBooks, TVs and desktops. Additional loss cover costs £1.50 per month per gadget.

      Endsleigh will insure up to 3 gadgets. Like Protect Your Bubble, it bases its prices on the model of your gadgets. However, as with the rest of its insurance it also changes the prices depending on where you go to university, and whether you live on or off campus. Its gadget cover is significantly cheaper for a student living in halls. Endsleigh offers protection against accidental damage and loss as standard, as well as a 24 hour gadget replacement policy.

      All offer multi-gadget discounts. i-Digital offers a 10% discount if you insure 2 items and a 40% discount if you insure 3 items. Protect Your Bubble and Endsleigh both offer a 10% discount for 2 items and 15% for 3 or more.

      Below is a table comparing gadget cover from Endsleigh, i-Digital and Protect Your Bubble. The prices are for student living off campus at Warwick University (where applicable) with an iPhone 5s and a MacBook Air 13”.

      Accidental damage
      £50, £75 for accidental loss
      £142.18 (£11.84/month)
      ✔ (not with essential)
      £158.21 (£14.38/month)
      Protect Your Bubble
      £25-£75, depending on type of gadget
      £129.36 (£10.78/month)

      So if you’re not too worried about being robbed, but are the type to drop your new phone down the toilet (we’ve all been there), gadget insurance might be a good choice. But, as you can see from the comparison, it’s not necessarily always the cheaper option.

      We have a group that negotiates a better deal for student gadget insurance.

      Musical Instrument Insurance

      Whether you’re part of your university orchestra, a band or just play for fun, it’s a good idea to get your instrument insured. Your musical instrument is sometimes covered as part of the contents of your room, against standard dangers like fire, flood and theft (such as in Endsleigh’s student halls insurance).

      It won’t be protected against accidental damage or loss outside your room as standard, but most companies offer musical instrument insurance as an optional extra. This is because instruments are taken to what are considered to be high-risk areas for theft and damage, like concerts and other crowded public areas.

      Not all student insurers offer this though (have a look at this comparison table to see who does). If the company does offer it, the cover often has an item value limit: Endsleigh’s is £5,000, for example. So taking out additional musical instrument cover with your contents insurance is a good choice if you’re an amateur musician who requires standard cover against loss, accidental damage, and theft outside your room.

      If you need more specialist cover, have a look at this musical instrument insurance article for a guide to your options.

      Bicycle Insurance

      Insurers can have very limited policies on bikes – Natwest, for example, will only cover your bike up to £250. If you’ve got something more expensive, consider Endsleigh's bicycle insurance, who will insure bikes worth up to £1,000. You can get a quote from them here. Otherwise, think about buying a cheap bike for uni to cut down on costs.

      Another option is looking into specialist bicycle insurance from companies such as BikmoPlus, PedalSure or Yellow Jersey. We've negotiated discounts with all of these providers for our cycling insurance, mountain biker, new cyclist and city cyclist groups.

      Some of these providers are aimed at enthusiasts and you can find out more about them with our guide to the best bicycle insurers.

      Already have insurance? Advice about renewing/switching

      If you already have student insurance, it’s about time to start thinking about renewing it. It’s important to renew your insurance every year to make sure you’re still covered, especially if your situation has changed (you’ve moved from halls into private accommodation).

      You'll need different insurance for a student house than you would for halls of residence.

      If you’re happy with the insurance you have, then renewing it should be simple. Endsleigh offers simple one-click renewals on their website if your policy is still active, and if your permanent home address is still the same it doesn’t matter if you’ve moved into a different house during term-time. You may also get a no-claims discount if you haven’t made a claim on your insurance this year.

      If, however, you’ve read through this article and decided that your current insurance policy isn’t quite right for you, check out our table of student insurers here and get a few quotes. You might decide that you don’t need as much contents cover as you thought last year, or if you’ve got a new mobile phone you might decide you want insurance that covers that, too.

      Security tips:

      • Always make sure doors and windows are securely locked, including those in common rooms and other communal areas
      • Rooms in halls always have a lock. But your room in a shared house might not (we know someone whose door doesn’t even close). Make sure you fit one, or get your landlord to do it - otherwise you probably won’t be able to make a claim if your house is burgled
      • If you take a bike with you to uni, make sure you have a secure ‘D’ lock and never leave it outside unsecured. It’s a good idea to check the small print of any insurance policy, because sometimes insurers won’t pay out unless your bike was secured to a non-moveable object
      • Remember to back up your coursework, photos and important files in case something does happen to your laptop or phone
      • Keep valuables away from windows where they can be seen by potential thieves, especially if you’re on the ground floor

      Car and travel insurance

      For car and travel insurance, there are fewer policies specifically designed for students. Endsleigh does offer discounts on many other kinds of insurance if you have an NUS card but it may still be worth shopping around to see if you can get a better deal.

      If you started driving before uni you'll know that car insurance can be expensive for young drivers. We've listed the 10 best policies for young drivers or you may want to consider black box cover, which can offer savings.

      Travel insurance should be much cheaper for young people. For shorter holidays you may want to look at our guide to the best travel policies and for longer trips check our guide to the best backpacker travel insurance.

      Health insurance for international students

      International students who will be staying in the UK may want to look into health insurance. Many will have access to the NHS so private medical cover may not be much of a concern. But those with a Tier 4 General Student Visa valid for less than 6 months will need medical insurance.

      If your travelling from the USA your health insurer might cover you while you're in the UK. Otherwise, there are specialist providers such as International Student Insurance that offer cover. And Endsleigh also has a policy for foreign students.

      If British students are interested in health insurance they can approach the companies here or be added to a family policy. We have a guide to the best health insurers here.

    More like this:

    Best Travel Insurance 2016

    Check out our list of the 10 best travel insurance companies and learn more about holiday cover

    • by David Woodfield