Between the excitement and nerves of moving out of home for the first time, it’s fair to say insurance isn’t always a top priority for students. But in this article, we’ll take a look at why students neglect insurance (and why they shouldn’t) along with tips on picking the right insurance provider. We wrap up with a look at how the insurance needs of students are evolving and take a look at some practical steps insurance providers can take to accommodate them. For extra insight into this topic, we spoke with the following experts:
- Becky Downing, Founder and CEO of buzzvault
- Michael Fotis, CEO of Smart Money People
- Eleana Martyn, Account Manager at Protect Your Gadget
- Andrew Chell, Loughborough based student landlord
- Oliver Barrow, Head of Education at Endsleigh Insurance Services at Endsleigh
Should students get insurance?
In a word: yes! All of the experts we spoke to advised students get insurance. Recent ONS data found that students are almost twice as likely to be victims of theft than the average adult, with renters more likely to be burgled than homeowners. “This illustrates the increased risk students face when it comes to burglary. This could be down to the nature of the type of high value items they typically own (e.g. laptops, mobiles), as well as the kind of accommodation they live in; often houses of multiple occupancy with a number of students all under one roof,” says Becky Downing from buzzvault.
“Student accommodation, whether halls or a private shared house, is a prime target for thieves. And in some student towns, student accommodation can be concentrated over several streets close by, making this an easy target,” says Michael Fotis from Smart Money People.
While being burgled is unpleasant for a host of reasons, Eleana Martyn from Protect Your Gadget points out why it’s particularly damaging for students: “These days, laptops are an essential tool for students, so being without one for any amount of time could cause big problems.”
“As a landlord, I’m always keen for my tenants to get comprehensive insurance. Theft, fires or water damage are all things that can happen to any home but student homes, with their numerous tenants and short-leases, are extra vulnerable to these risks so it’s always prudent to get good policy coverage when renting,” advises Loughborough based student Landlord, Andrew Chell. “However, this doesn’t necessarily need to be ‘student insurance’. Depending on your needs, specific item insurance, e.g. gadget insurance, may also be a worthwhile alternative,” adds Michael.
Why do students neglect insurance?
The main reason students forgo insurance? Confusion. One of the main culprits for confusion our experts cited was students often incorrectly assume they’ll be covered by their parent’s insurance. “From our research we know students and their parents take safety and security seriously, but putting in adequate insurance provision for students can be overlooked. Many parents and students think they are covered under a parents’ home contents policy but this isn’t always the case, so it is always worth a call to the provider to check,” says Oliver Barrow from Endsleigh.
In addition, many students in private accommodation erroneously believe their landlord will provide them with insurance. “Landlords are responsible for getting house insurance, but generally their insurance won’t cover the contents of the property,” says Michael.
- Current offering doesn’t serve their needs
“Many traditional insurance products haven’t evolved to meet the technology filled, fast-paced lifestyles of students today. This leaves them out of touch with their needs as customers, and as a result, students may not have faith that insurance has anything to offer them,” says Becky.
“I think insurance is often over-looked with student homes because it’s another cost on top of their rent and often this will be their first experience with renting so they don’t see the value. One incident however and you can bet that they’ll be taking an insurance policy out next time,” says Andrew.
“They have so much to think about and organise before they leave for university, insurance is something that can often be overlooked,” says Eleana. “And then of course, there’s the fact that insurance isn’t sexy. Most of us don’t really want to think about the ‘what could go wrong scenarios’,” adds Michael.
- Undervaluing possessions
“The rise of smart technology and their commonplace nature in our lives may be lulling students into a false sense of security when it comes to their value, perhaps believing that they are not worth insuring in the first place,” says Becky.
What should students look for in an insurance provider?
- User friendly
“As with any service, an insurance provider that puts its customer needs at heart is key. When it comes to insurance, not only does this mean accessible prices, but more importantly a product that can be personalised to suit their exact requirements and one which is easy to understand,” says Becky.
- Comprehensive cover
“Good comprehensive cover so that’s theft, water damage, fire and some other rarer incidents like flooding are good things to consider depending on your location,” says Andrew. It’s also worth clarifying exactly what your cover covers. “Bikes and musical instruments may not automatically be covered, or there may be low limits on the value of these items. Check policies carefully, otherwise it may be worth getting separate, specific insurance for these items,” suggests Michael.
“Make sure that your policy is relevant to your individual context. So, if you’re in a high crime area make sure that theft is included, if you’re right next to a river, maybe get a separate flooding policy as they can be costly and difficult to claim if wide-scale flooding has occurred,” says Andrew. “Options such as out of home and accidental cover are key to making sure their belongings are protected on campus as well as at home,” adds Becky.
Before signing up, students should find out the length of time it will take for companies to process their claim. “Being a student without a laptop for a couple of weeks could be could be a nightmare if it’s just before a key deadline for coursework. We’ve also seen instances in our reviews where students are without their phones for several weeks while waiting for them to be repaired or replaced, which isn’t great,” says Michael.
- Affordable excess
“Check the policy’s excess to ensure it is affordable in the event of a claim,” says Eleana
How can insurance companies meet the evolving needs of students?
1. Streamline services
“Out of the gate, the biggest changes that need to be made must address how students actually buy and use insurance. This means meeting the needs of their on-demand expectations, for example the ability to insure single or a select few of their most treasured belongings, keeping insurance in line with changing lifestyles and rental trends. Embracing technology is a key step in achieving this, not only making insurance more accessible but improving processes such as streamlining claims,” advises Becky.
2. Mobile friendly claim forms
One obvious first step in streamlining services? Make sure sites, and in particular claim forms, are mobile friendly. “One is ease of claim, insurance companies can make it very difficult for a claim to be enforced and it is often a lengthy experience involving lots of forms and emails. Something that would make it easier to claim is proper mobile websites, the most common thing to be stolen in student burglaries are laptops so often these forms are being filled out on a phone. I’d like to see a more usable experience that considers the claimant’s situation in the future,” says Andrew.
3. Clearer, targeted messaging
“Most insurance companies will cover students and all their devices, but they don’t advertise their products as such. Some insurers could even consider creating a specific student policy type that lasts for the three years of an undergraduate course, or they could include local approved retailers where students can take their devices to be fixed,” says Eleana
4. Drop the jargon
On that note, one way insurance companies can tighten up their messaging and appeal to this demographic is to drop the complex wording. “Improving transparency and education around insurance will leave both students and providers better off. This means saying goodbye to complex jargon and hello to customer empowerment through increased understanding and control,” adds Becky.
5. Focus on customer service
“Having dealt with a large number of insurance claims myself it’s often an extremely frustrating experience for everyone involved. I think the industry would be better off if more money was spent on customer service so people can learn what is being done quicker and easier than currently,” says Andrew.
6. Expand offerings
Endsleigh now offer a wellbeing insurance service, which covers issues not typically associated with insurance such as mental health support and debt counselling services. “We understand there isn’t a single solution that will suit everyone so we work collaboratively with students and education providers to offer a range of products that protect the student experience, focusing on services that don’t just deliver a reactive response to a situation, but help prevent potential issues arising,” says Oliver.
“For years now, large insurance companies have been thinking about how they can build better ‘customer centric’ relationships. After all, many of us buy insurance either because it’s mandated (like car insurance) or in case something bad happens. Aligning insurance to something positive, like mental health support, may prove to be a smart brand move,” says Michael.