As consumers we own an ever-increasing number of handheld gadgets such as smartphones, cameras, laptops, MP3 players, and portable games consoles, and these may not be covered by standard home insurance.
When you leave the house each day, the chances are you take some of these devices with you, and you'd miss having them around if they were stolen, lost or accidentally damaged.
Many of these gadgets are also relatively expensive – while the insurance cover for them may only cost a few pounds a month. If you'd find it hard to live without your phone or iPad, it makes good financial sense to take out cover so you could easily replace them if the worst happens.
Even if your home insurance offers a degree of cover for your gadgets, it can make sense to take out a separate policy – then if you need to make a claim, it won't affect your main home insurance no-claims bonus. And if you have several gadgets worth covering, as most of us do, you could purchase a multi-gadget insurance policy.
Choosing the right gadget insurance
With so many different companies offering gadget insurance, it can be difficult to know where to start in your search for the best cover.
- Look for a policy that repairs or replaces lost, damaged or stolen gadgets within 48 hours of a successful claim, so you won't have to live without your trusty devices for long. If your device is accidentally damaged, your insurance should pay for it to be repaired, and if it's irreparable – or it's been stolen – they should replace it.
- Look out for a policy that offers “new for old” replacement.
- If you're planning to take gadgets abroad, make sure the policy covers them worldwide with no extra premium to pay.
- Better policies include protection against damage caused by spilled drinks, as well as mechanical breakdown. Remember that if your gadget breaks down during the manufacturer’s guarantee period (which is usually within the first 12 months), you need to contact the manufacturer rather than your insurer, as gadget insurance only protects you for this once the guaranteed period has finished.
- Some policies will cover the cost of calls made on your mobile after it's been stolen, usually up to a policy limit (of say £100)
- Some insurers provide an online repository where you can store digital content such as photographs, which means you wouldn't lose any of these materials if your computer or other storage device packed up.
Things to watch out for
When you're comparing gadget insurance policies, one thing to look for is the excess placed on your policy (the amount you pay in the event of a claim). Make sure this is set at a reasonable and affordable level – for smaller devices it may only be around £25, while for an expensive laptop it might rise to £100 or so.
Next, read the small print to find out about any exclusions and 'rules' written into the policy, for example:
- Often insurers won't cover gadgets unless you take 'reasonable precautions' to take care of them. If you leave your phone in your car, for example, your insurer may only pay out if it was hidden away in a locked boot or glove compartment.
- If you're burgled and devices are stolen from your home, insurers will want evidence of forced entry.
- If your device needs repairing, get this authorised by your insurer first – otherwise they may refuse to pay out for the work.