Top 10 Things to Think about When it Comes to Insurance
First of all, congratulations! You are entering a really exciting time in your life and you have lots to look forward to.
This may be the first time you have lived away from home, and it may be the first time you have to think about ‘grown up things’. It may be the first time you need to worry about insurance. It can be daunting and it may be way down your list of things to organise – but it is important. So, to make it a bit easier, here are my top 10 things for you to consider:
Always tell the truth!
Insurance is a ‘good faith’ contract based on full disclosure – the law says that you have to give the insurer all the information you have. And if you don’t, or if you give incorrect information, a claim could be rejected, or the amount reduced – which makes the insurance kind of pointless really.
Some insurance is compulsory under the law, for example, Motor Insurance. If you have a car, you must have a valid motor policy – no excuses! Try ‘aggregator’ sites such as confused.com or comparethemarket.com for the best deals – but be aware that not all insurers are available on these sites and some who aren’t, such as Aviva and Direct Line, can have competitive prices. You can also consider a ‘Black box’ policy to keep the cost down. This records your driving to see how safe you are. Drive carefully or pay the price!
Think about what your risks are!
There are many different types of insurance out there. You can buy Contents Cover, Motor Insurance, Bike Insurance, Gadget Insurance, Travel Insurance – the list is endless. Do a risk assessment (just work out what really concerns you and write it down. Is it something that you can control? Or not), then look for insurance to cover the things that really concern you. Think about what you can afford and get some prices / quotations together for different types of insurance. You may have hard decisions to make depending on your budget but at least if you have thought it through you are less likely to be upset later down the line.
Be careful with your stuff!
Well, obviously, right? But if you are sloppy with your security, or careless, you may find that your losses aren’t covered. Many insurers will exclude claims for theft where doors / windows are unlocked. Others won’t pay out for lost items and will require evidence of damage / theft. Which leads me onto…
Read the Policy!
I know, no one actually reads the policy. Just like they don’t read the terms and conditions on websites. But you really should. At the very least, read the exclusions. Most policies are available in pdf format these days and you can search for ‘excluded’, ‘not covered’, or ‘restrictions’ – you should be aware of what is covered and not covered before you buy. Often two policies will look the same with similar sums insured / excesses etc – but one has a great number of exclusions that remove a lot of cover, whereas another has many extensions that provide extra cover. Reading the Policy before you buy it can save a lot of headaches later on.
Keep claim instructions handy!
If the worst happens and you do have a claim, the last thing you want to be doing is scrolling through hundreds of emails, or searching through loads of paperwork, to find out how to make a claim. Insert the claims phone number into your contacts. Add the Policy number as a note on it. This can save vital time and hassle at a time when you really don’t need any hassle at all.
Mitigate your losses!
Again, if you do have a claim, try to do whatever you can to reduce or control the impact. So, for example, if your flat has a burst pipe and there is water flooding in, try to remove belongings or at least keep them away from the wet as far as possible. Start with higher value items and/or smaller portable things. However, never put yourself in danger to save material things. If there is any risk to you, just get out / get away.
Think about your excess!
If you have an expensive bit of kit that is essential for study, you probably should insure it. But think about your excess. Ultimately, if you must replace the item if it is damaged or stolen, then you will probably have an excess to pay. So it is a good idea to try to set that money aside. Then you won’t be left having to borrow and you can replace your kit straightaway.
Get the Police involved!
If you are unlucky enough to be a victim of crime, it is essential that you get the police involved as soon as possible. Even though they may not be able to help you or to do anything about getting your stuff back, they will give you a Crime Reference Number. Many if not all insurers will require that Crime Reference Number as a condition before they pay out for a theft. So even if you think the police aren’t worth the hassle – if you are going to claim, call them.
If you’ve followed the above, you should hopefully be able to relax and concentrate on your studies and indeed having a bit of fun. The point of insurance is to pay someone else to take risks on your behalf – so you don’t have to worry about them. If you have paid attention to what cover you are actually getting and you’ve taken reasonable care of your things, but the worst has happened, it will be fine. Most insurance disputes happen because people didn’t give insurers the full story, or they didn’t read the policy carefully. Believe it or not, most insurers aren’t trying to screw you out of a valid claim – but they do have a duty to all their policyholders to keep costs down by avoiding fraud and not paying out when they don’t have to. So, if you have done the right things and paid sufficient attention – it should be ok!
I hope this list is helpful and if you have any questions please get in touch on 024 7623 2619.
Ian McKinney ACII, is a Chartered Insurance Broker at Gallagher Insurance. Ian is an Oxford University Graduate and all round good guy. He’s also really passionate about what he does. Ian posesses a rare skill of making insurance not only interesting but digestible.