Gadget Insurance

20 years ago when someone left their houses they might have taken their keys and wallet or purse with them, but not much more. Losing such items would have caused some inconvenience, but not a huge amount.

These days, you’d almost feel naked if that’s all you left home with. The technological revolution, with all its associated high-tech gadgetry, means people often have a greater number of valuables with them every day than ever before.

Are your gadgets insured?

We’ve gone from carrying around items worth comparatively little to having bags and pockets bulging with the latest gadgets which, if stolen or broken, could potentially have a devastating effect on our lives, and also savings.

Research in 2013 showed that the average commuter now carries technology worth up to £4,200 to and from the workplace. However, only a third of us have the right insurance to protect our gadgets wherever we are, which is striking when one in fourteen UK adults said they’d had a portable device stolen over the previous 12 months.

From laptops, e-readers and iPads, to smartphones, cameras, GPS systems and gaming consoles, many people now take gadgets with them everywhere. This, combined with constantly using such gadgets in public places, increases the likelihood of theft, damage or loss.

Are your gadgets insured if anything went wrong?

Gadget insurance can be extremely useful, even if you only carry a fairly small number of hi-tech items around with you. Losing just one item, such as a phone, can cost you hundreds of pounds; you might not only have to replace the phone, but also the music, films, apps and books you had downloaded onto its hard drive.

And a laptop could be even more valuable, with a greater amount of paid for software, files and programmes on it, not to mention personal information and, potentially, access codes.

What are gadgets?

Those items considered to be ‘gadgets’ for insurance purposes cover a wide-variety of mainly electrical items, but may even include non-electrical goods such as hi-tech bicycles and sports equipment such as skis.

Typically, items considered to be gadgets by most contents insurance policies would include:

  • Laptops
  • Cameras
  • iPads and other tablets
  • Mobile phones
  • GPS systems and SatNavs
  • Some types of watch
  • Computers
  • Games consoles
  • MP3 players and portable music devices
  • Kindles and other e-readers
  • Macs and MacBooks
  • PDAs

Do you need gadget cover?

Gadget cover can be extremely useful for a number of reasons, including:

  • Expensive items to replace – Gadgets are often expensive to replace and insurance cover could save you hundreds of pounds.
  • Phone and tablet contracts – Mobile phone and tablet users are often on contracts which they’re tied into, even if the gadget is stolen or broken. You don’t want to have to pay for something you don’t use.
  • Children – Young children and gadgets often don’t mix well, for obvious reasons!
  • Away from home cover – Many standard home insurance policies don’t include what’s called ‘away from home’ cover. Gadget insurance would mean you’re insured when out and about.
  • Accidental damage – Accidental damage cover is an ‘add on’ to most ordinary home cover policies, but usually comes as standard with gadget insurance.

Are gadgets covered under Home Insurance?

If you already have Contents Insurance, there’s a good chance you’ll have a some cover in place for your gadgets.

However, policies vary hugely in terms of what’s covered and what isn’t, and the level of cover.

You should check the terms of your policy, and discuss your requirements with your insurer or insurance broker, such as ourselves here at Policy Expert.

You may find that you want to consider paying more to increase gadget cover on your existing home insurance policy, or take out separate cover.

There are three main options open to you:

  • Standard cover and gadgets

Although a good deal of your gadgets will probably be covered by your standard home insurance, on some policies the cover can be quite limited.

Your gadgets, like your other possessions, will in all likelihood only be covered when they’re in your home, rather than when you take them around outside.

And cover levels vary widely; allowable claims for single items of up to around £2,000 aren’t uncommon, but with many standard policies the claim limits are less for items that are most attractive to thieves, and which are more easily damaged. This especially applies to gadgets such as phones, laptops and high-tech expensive bicycles.

Even if the policy allows claims on most gadgets for up to £2,000, there may be limits as to how many times in a year you can claim for them. So if you’re prone to losing your phone, or breaking high-tech items such as laptops and cameras, you might want to find cover which allows a multiple gadget claims in each policy period.

Additionally, downloaded music, films and books and unauthorised usage are all unlikely to be included under standard cover, with a good number of other ‘exclusions’ involved too (see later in this guide under ‘Exclusions’ for more).

Some standard policies won’t include ‘away from home’ cover, so once you take items out of your home, they’re not covered.

Neither do they cover you for accidental damage, such as dropping your phone after one too many drinks, or sitting on your bag and damaging a tablet in it.

  • Extended standard cover for gadgets

If you want to ensure that you have more comprehensive insurance for your gadgets, including away from home and accidental damage cover, it’s likely you’ll have to pay extra.

Many insurers can offer gadget cover as an ‘add on’ to your existing policy, or you can ask for it to be included at the time you take out new home insurance.

It shouldn’t cost a great deal more, but it’s wise to shop around and compare deals. Exclusions will still apply however, and you should add up the value of your gadgets and check claim limits to make sure that they’re fully covered by the terms of the policy.

  • Stand-alone gadget cover

If you use a lot of tech, or simply want to make sure your gadgets are as covered as they can possibly be, taking out a ‘stand-alone’ policy usually provides the most comprehensive level of insurance.

Stand-alone gadget cover is bought as a completely separate policy to your standard home insurance. The better policies should include much higher gadget claim limits, warranty cover, unauthorised usage, accidental damage and away from home cover, and insurance for valuable downloaded music, game and film libraries.

They may also provide 24-hour emergency help so that if your gadgets are vital to your lifestyle and work, you can have replacements guaranteed and provided rapidly, and even tech support if you’re trying to recover lost files and software.

Stand-alone gadget insurance still has exclusions common to nearly all contents insurance policies, such as not being able to claim for mechanical failure (i.e. if it simply won’t switch on), or wear and tear (see under ‘Exclusions’ below).

Retailers often offer policies that cover the specific item, or items, that you’re buying. But bear in mind this usually isn’t the most cost-effective way of getting gadget cover, often costing a great deal more than either extending your existing home insurance cover or taking out a separate, stand-alone gadget insurance policy.

Exclusions and things to consider

Whether it’s the terms of your standard home insurance, or those of a stand-alone gadget insurance policies, they will all include exclusions of some sort or other.

For standard home insurance, the exclusions for gadgets can be broad in scope and very restrictive in terms of what you can actually claim for, and the circumstances under which you can claim.

Exclusions should generally be fewer the better the policy and whether you’ve paid to extend your existing home cover or have bought stand-alone gadget insurance.

Here are a number of exclusions to watch out for:

  • Excess –The first part of any claim (the ‘excess’) is nearly always met by the policy holder. The excess typically ranges from £50 up to £500 and you choose it at the policy outset.
  • Wear and tear – If a gadget has simply worn out, due to use or age for example, you won’t be able to claim.
  • Cover claim limits – The amount you can claim for certain gadgets often differs to normal claim limits. For example, some policies only offer £200 for mobile phones, when the single item claim limit on standard items might be £2,000.
  • Away from home cover – Many policies exclude claims made for theft, damage or loss experienced when outside the home. You usually have to pay extra to add away from home cover, but stand-alone gadget insurance usually covers you away from your property.
  • Accidental damage – As with away from home cover, standard policies often don’t offer cover for accidental damage, but if you pay extra for gadget cover, or take out a stand-alone policy, it should be included.
  • Laptops – Even if you have away from home cover as part of your standard home insurance deal, it’s fairly common for laptops to be excluded.
  • Downloads – Most standard deals won’t cover downloads such as those made for music, films and games. The value of downloaded libraries can run into thousands of pounds and you’ll probably want to ensure you have back up copies on other hard drives, or in a data cloud, or make sure your insurance includes downloads.

Make sure you’re not already covered

It may be that you already have cover provided for the gadgets you use and carry with you, such as mobile phone insurance, through having a specific type of bank account or credit card, as some offer such cover as an incentive.
If so, and the only gadget you’re really concerned about is the one covered, you wouldn’t need to worry about buying extra gadget insurance.

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The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.