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Packing for university: Don't forget student contents insurance

Congratulations! The hard work is done, you've passed your exams and you're looking forward to heading off to university in the next couple of weeks.

This is such an exciting time; the prospect of getting stuck into studies, meeting new people and experiencing a new city is all part of the fun. It could be the first time that you have been away from home for more than a week at a time, looking after yourself and making sure you stay fit and healthy.

You can look forward to the challenge of getting to lectures on time, experimenting with your new '100 things to do with pasta' recipe book and going on sports tours. However, all of your excitement could soon be dampened if you fail to do the sensible – but no less important – stuff first.

Student contents insurance is a must if you are moving out of your parents' house. It is likely that you will be in halls of residence for at least your first year, thrown together with a group of people who are all strangers.

While there might be undesirable characters within your halls, you also need to bear in mind that on the outside burglars will often target students – accidentally leaving a window open or a door unlocked is easily done, and your parents will not be following close behind to ensure that the building is secure before leaving it.

Research from Opinion Matters showed that around a third of today's students (834,000) could become victims of crime, causing upset, inconvenience and financial hardship.

As a modern student, it is likely that you will have a shiny new laptop, tablet computer and MP3 player in your bedroom. Together with any sports equipment and other gadgets, the value of goods you take to university will be worth a small fortune.

It is unlikely you will be rolling in money as a student, so the cost of replacing a stolen laptop if you do not have contents insurance will not be easy to meet. Add this to the fact that you might lose an assignment that you have poured hours of work into then you have a nightmare scenario.

While ensuring you are covered is vital and will help you to pay for new items if you are a victim of burglary, it will not prevent the break-in happening in the first place.

Here are a few basic pointers which could make all the difference:

- According to research, half of burglaries take place through insecure properties – thieves want easy access. Therefore, make sure all windows and doors are locked, especially on the ground floor.

- Keep valuables hidden. By leaving expensive items on display you are making your room more attractive to a burglar. By putting things out of sight, making use of drawers or storing things under your bed, you will reduce your chances of being broken in to.

- When you go out on a night, make sure you leave a light on. This will give the impression that someone is still in the house and will put off any opportunist burglars.