Going to Uni?

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:

  1. 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.


  1. Stay legal!

    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!


  1. 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.


  1. 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…


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


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Jennifer C. Petersen, Security and Operations Professional – Our First Guest Blogger

Every month RAS has a guest blogger. This month it is Jennifer C. Petersen an Operations and Security Specialist who manages staff safety in large scale operations for development firms and NGOs.


Jennifer has experience with staff and support of projects in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Jennifer can best be found at – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifercpetersen/

RAS managed to catch up with Jennifer at the airport just before she is off again!

Q: Can you give me a brief overview, and why, you do what you do?
A: I plan, direct and coordinate operations. I also have oversight of security and related provisions as well as coordination of crisis response for various project offices. I do what I do because I love working with different cultures, problem solving to mitigate risk and the excitement of constant change.


Q: Given the global context is changing so rapidly, what do you think are biggest challenges in security?
A: Unfortunately, risk exposure is increasing globally which makes it difficult to narrow down the biggest challenge in security right now. I think from a long list, I would have to say geopolitical tensions (US-Iran, China, Mexico, terrorism in the Middle East and Africa, etc) and cybersecurity breaches (artificial intelligence, supercomputing, etc) are the most challenging at this time.


Q: Security professionals are often seen as being big, white ex-military men. What do you think is your biggest asset being a woman in security?
A: Probably that I’m often considered a “non-threat” which is why it’s easier for me to move in certain circles than men.


Q: As part of your role you are often involved with security audits for organisations that you work with. What is the most common mistake you’ve seen made by organisations regarding security?
A: I would say the most common mistake organisations make is not enforcing standard operating procedures (SOPs) or implementing recommendations previously given by security personnel. This is dangerous for everyone – the employees, consultants, company and security professional.


Q: Where is the most exciting place that you been to for international business, and why?
A: Tough question as all places I’ve been to have been exciting in one way or another, but I think Saudi Arabia was exciting for me in a personal way. To get into the country was a process, then as a woman you have further constraints on your movement. I like testing myself, in various scenarios and situations, to be thrown into unfamiliar places and find my way.


Q: Your job means you travel quite a lot of the time. What is the one thing you always take with you when you undertake international business travel?
A: A first aid kit with basic medicine in my carry-on. You never know what and when you’ll need it, especially when traveling to less equipped countries.


Thank you Jennifer for taking time to catch up with us, have a great trip and a dull and uneventful flight.

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