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In brief

Car ownership is an impossible dream for most students. Even if they or their parents can afford to buy an old banger, the frighteningly high cost of insurance for under 21-year-olds invariably brings the motoring fantasy to a juddering halt.

But a new offer from Endsleigh, the Cheltenham-based insurance company, will revive many undergraduates' hopes of getting behind the steering wheel.

Endsleigh, which is part-owned by the National Union of Students, has slashed up to 30 per cent off the cost of its motor insurance policies.

It says that a 20-year-old female student living in Cheltenham could now obtain fully comprehensive insurance on a 1989 Vauxhall Nova 1300L for only Pounds 392.83. Third-party fire and theft would cost Pounds 242.79.

Endsleigh compared those figures with the premiums that would be required by nine other insurers and found that its rates were lowest. Hill House Hammond offered the next best fully comprehensive deal (Pounds 456.80) while the AA provided the second lowest third-party fire and theft premium (Pounds 326).

Four of the nine refused to quote as they do not insure under 21-year-olds.

No amount of money can really help to compensate for tragedies such as the massacre at Dunblane or the killing of London headteacher Philip Lawrence.

Nevertheless, Swire Fraser, a leading firm of brokers, has launched a new insurance policy for schools which want more than just physical protection against such attacks.

Swire Fraser's policy provides up to Pounds 250,000 compensation if a staff member, pupil or parent is killed or permanently disabled in a violent attack at a school.

In the event of such a tragedy a further Pounds 25,000 would be paid into a fund that the school's governing body would use to help those who were less seriously injured or traumatised. Policy-holders would also have free access to a 24-hour victim support counselling helpline.

The policy is being sold on an annual or five-yearly basis. Basic cover for the longer period costs Pounds 500.

Not so long ago insurers' house contents policies seemed to cover little more than humdrum breakages and losses.

However, nowadays insurance companies are having to come up with increasingly unusual offers in an attempt to remain competitive.

Teachers and other public service workers who take out a Zurich Municipal house contents policy not only qualify for a 15 per cent discount, they receive a guarantee of compensation if they are unlucky enough to be called as a juror.

The policy promises jurors Pounds 25 a day (up to a maximum of Pounds 500). Not enough to compensate for having to sit through a six-month fraud trial, but welcome none the less.

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