09
Sep 13

Students, are your belongings safe?

The alarming reality is that one-third of students become victims of crime, most frequently theft and burglary; and over half of the students falling prey to these offences are not insured.

The fact that they own more expensive consumer goods per head than any other demographic, combined with their outgoing lifestyle and poor home security, makes them an easy target. As the beginning of a new university year approaches, it is more important than ever to take necessary precautions to protect students’ belongings and ensure they are fully covered in their new premises.

Our useful top tips will help prevent oversights and assist with security for the coming year.

Security tips:

Locks

Outside doors should be fitted with Yale type locks; and vulnerable downstairs windows with key-operated locks. A recent government survey found that more than 30 per cent of students had no security locks on doors or windows. A 2007 Leeds University report indicated that nearly 57 per cent of student burglaries occur through an open door or window, so always check these are secure before going out. Raise any concerns with the landlord or halls of residence immediately.

Keep valuables out of sight

Opportunity makes the thief, so avoid leaving cash or jewellery in view. Find a secure location for storing your laptop and other high-value items when you leave the house.

Mark belongings

Consider using a UV marker with the university’s initial and individual’s student number; or use a permanent marker or engraving to deter thieves. Dial *#06# to obtain a unique mobile registration (IMEI) number, which the police will check for first when attempting to recover stolen property. Register valuables at www.immobilise.co.uk, a police-supported national property register, so they can be traced back to their owner on recovery.

Create an inventory

Take photographs, look up the value and keep a list of the make, model and serial numbers of any electronic items.

Back up files

Avoid losing all university work and other files by backing up data on mobiles, smartphones or external hard-drives.

Get to know people

Get to know fellow tenants; recognise and report strangers and encourage other students to do likewise. Arrange to meet the landlord or hall warden, as these are the first point of contact for security or safety concerns.

Insure possessions

In some cases, parents’ home insurance policies may provide cover for belongings; however it is important to understand what is covered. If living in halls, check whether rent includes insurance, and review the policy, as it may not be comprehensive, and additional contents insurance may be required.

Insurance tips:

Whether in halls of residence or a private house or flat, it is the individual’s sole responsibility to arrange students contents insurance, as their policy will only cover items they personally own. The following should be considered when selecting an insurance policy:
  • Don’t be tempted by the cheapest option
  • Shop around and look beyond the price to consider whether the policy provides the cover needed and any excesses can be met. Consider policies that cover extras, such as bikes and mobile phones even when not in the house, and accidental damage.
  • Check the small print
  • Ensure full comprehension of terms and conditions to avoid unpleasant surprises should a claim be necessary. Make sure the policy remains valid over the holiday periods; and observe the single item limits – if not comprehensive, a separate policy can be purchased for an expensive belonging.
  • Keep receipts
  • An insurer may request receipts as proof of purchase of a valuable item if it is particularly new, and this also provides evidence of possession to boost a claim’s credibility.
  • When making a claim
  • Avoid exaggerating
  • Act quickly
  • Collect evidence
  • Follow insurer’s protocol
  • Chase it up

Total Landlord Insurance has recently launched Total Tenants Contents, a new, competitively priced, comprehensive contents insurance that will cover students’ belongings and allow peace of mind. For more information, visit: http://www.totallandlordinsurance.co.uk/products-and-services/total-tenants-contents/  and obtain a quick quote online.

About the author

Eddie Hooker Photograph Eddie Hooker has been involved in the insurance industry since 1985.  He worked with many large insurers such as Legal & General and AXA Insurance prior to setting up his own insurance business, Hamilton Fraser, in 1996.  Hamilton Fraser now employs over 130 staff out of their North London office, dealing with various insurance products for the buy-to-let property market such landlord insurance, rent guarantee insurance, emergency cover and tenancy deposit protection. 

Eddie and Hamilton Fraser Insurance first started to provide landlord insurance as early as 1996 when they became involved with the Small Landlord Association, which later became the National Landlords Association. 

By working closely with the industry’s leading companies Eddie and his team have built up a detailed understanding of the landlord market ensuring that the customer experience is founded on knowledge and support.  This has been highlighted in a recent customer survey that found that 95% of Hamilton Fraser customers were either satisfied or more than satisfied with the service provided by the company.

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