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Students’ possessions 'need to be insured' ‒ advice for parents

Published Feb 22, 2022


As students enter or return to tertiary education institutions across South Africa, parents need to ensure that their children’s possessions are properly insured.

This is the view of Bertus Visser, chief executive of distribution at PSG Insure, who says: “The costs of sending a child to university or college certainly do add up. But what parents need to remember is that loss, theft and damage are, unfortunately, very real eventualities. One way to avoid an exorbitant outlay to repair or replace expensive student essentials such as laptops, smartphones, bicycles, and television sets is to insure them.”

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Sunday April 18 last year was a pivotal day for students at the University of Cape Town. On this day, a runaway fire caused extensive damage to campus property and a number of residential buildings. Fortunately, no lives were lost in the blaze, but 4 000 students in residences were forced to evacuate with little to none of their belongings.

Estimates equate the damage at UCT to between R500 million and R1 billion. If anything, what this sudden and unpredictable event brought to the fore was the importance of insurance for the valuable possessions of students.

Visser warns that while some insurers may cover student possessions in the event of a natural disaster or theft, there will always be limitations. “For example, an insurer won’t cover the cost of a laptop or phone being stolen while in transit, except if insured as an ‘all risk’ item on the policy. It’s always useful to find out what these limitations are and to make sure that student possessions are correctly recorded and insured in the unfortunate event that the unexpected occurs,” says Visser.

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Student budgets are notoriously stretched, so the reality is that the cost of repair or replacement will inevitably fall on the shoulders of parents or caregivers, and in circumstances like the fire at UCT, where entire residences were destroyed, the costs can add up.

For example, a student who owns a laptop, a television, a portable music device and a game console will be in possession of items that can easily amount to over R40 000. Certain students who require technical equipment for their studies may also be in possession of items such as expensive photographic, digital or scientific equipment.

“A number of factors are taken into account when considering the insurance premium for the possessions of students, including where those goods are stored, whether any security measures are in place, and the replacement value of the items. “It is also important to disclose the location of these assets to insurers – for example, where a student vehicle is kept overnight for most of the year. If not disclosed, it can lead to the rejection of claims. We encourage parents to ask questions from the outset and consult an adviser before putting together their financial plan for supporting their children’s educational journeys,” says Visser.

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