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Insuring your Gadgets

Brits now check their smartphones every 12 seconds. And mobile phones aren’t the only gadgets that have become indispensable in our lives. We’re all Inspector Gadget these days, armed to the teeth with laptops, cameras, tablets and smartwatches.

As we shuttle all this expensive electronic kit from our home to work to a cafe and back again, something is bound to get lost, stolen or smashed at some point. And the bill to repair or replace these devices can be hefty.

That’s why you might want to take out gadget insurance; policies that can give you compensation for portable electronic devices if they’re misplaced, snatched, or sometimes if you accidentally damage them or they break down.

In this guide:

What is gadget insurance?

Gadget insurance is cover for portable, chargeable electronic devices.

These include:

  • mobile phones
  • laptops
  • tablets
  • eReaders like Kindles
  • cameras
  • music players
  • GPS devices
  • smartwatches

You’ll pay a premium to your insurer in exchange for a payout to repair or replace the item if it is damaged, lost, or stolen.

What does gadget insurance cover?

The exact cover offered by each policy will vary so it’s worth shopping around and comparing gadget insurance before you commit.

The most common types of cover for gadgets include:

  • Theft Cover: this cover compensates you for the theft of the item. This is particularly important for smartphones, half a million of which are snatched from our hands, bags, and restaurant tables every year.
  • Loss Cover: of course, not every device is swiped from our bags by nimble-fingered pickpockets. Sometimes we’re simply careless, leaving our laptop behind on the train or never finding our phone in the concert venue’s lost and found. This provision can compensate us for our devices if they seem to just wander off.
  • Accidental Damage Cover: we’ve all shattered a phone screen, or seven, by dropping them. And the unlucky among us have banged up laptops and dunked our eReaders in the bath. The best gadget cover policies will compensate you for the repair of devices that you break through your own carelessness or clumsiness.
  • Mechanical Breakdown Cover: we’ve also all encountered fried tablets and laptops that suddenly won’t start. Sometimes our gadgets develop faults and simply surrender. This provision can cover their repair and get us back streaming, texting, and snapping in no time.
  • Worldwide Cover: travelling to exotic locales? You might want to ensure your camera insurance covers you for every stop on your destination, so if it breaks or is stolen, you’ll be able to make a claim.
  • 48-Hour Guaranteed Replacement: would you fall to pieces without your smartphone and its apps connecting you to friends, taxis, takeaways, and music? Would you be able to work without access to a laptop? Check your MacBook insurance policy. Some policies - although generally the most expensive ones - can replace your gadgets within 48-hours, rush delivering a new laptop to your door.

How do you buy gadget insurance?

You can purchase separate, dedicated gadget insurance policies through insurers. These policies will come with the best cover, including extended warranties, worldwide and travel cover, 48-hour guaranteed replacements, and even payments on your phone bill if someone snatches your mobile and uses it to make expensive international calls.

You may also be able to insure more than one gadget with the same policy, so you’re paying one premium for cover of your mobile phone and your smartwatch.

But these specialist policies may be redundant, because you may already be covered for your devices under another policy. Your home contents insurance policy may include some level of gadget cover, either automatically or as an extra you can purchase (see our home contents insurance section for more information). Or you may be automatically given or purchase cover from your current account, premium credit card, or the travel insurance policy you take out for a trip. So before you take out a specialist laptop insurance policy, skim the paperwork of your existing insurance policies and financial products to ensure you’re not doubling up on cover.

Can you get gadget cover with your home insurance policy?

As you’d assume, your gadgets will be covered by your home contents insurance policy when they’re safely stored and used in your home. But most of the risks to these devices come outside your house - when you’re using Google Maps to navigate a darkened street or balancing your Kindle and a cup of coffee on the train.

Luckily, most home contents insurance policies include or can be upgraded with some level of personal possession cover, which can cover your devices as well as other valuables like jewellery, when you take them out of the home.

There are some limitations and drawbacks to using your home contents insurance policy for your gadgets, however. First, you’ll have to pay higher premiums to obtain personal possession cover as add-on to your policy. Still, the additional cost on your premiums may well be less than the premiums on a separate gadget policy.

Typically, these policies will include a single item maximum value, often of £1,000. That means you can only claim, at most, £1,000 for each stolen gadget, even if the total sum insured on the policy is much higher. This cap is well below the cost of some high-end laptops, particularly MacBooks and those used by tech professionals and gamers. It may also not be sufficient for high-spec cameras.

You’ll also have an excess on your home contents insurance policy that will likely be higher than that on a dedicated gadget insurance policy. It may be so high that it exceeds the repair or replacement cost of some of your gadgets, meaning you’ll have to pay all on your own if they’re damaged or stolen.

Additionally, claiming for your gadgets will convince your insurer you’re more high-risk as well as spoil your no-claims bonus and the discount associated with it. This means your entire contents insurance policy will be more expensive when you next renew it.

So yes, you can use the personal possession cover from your home insurance to cover your gadgets. But if you’re prone to losing or smashing phones and if you have a lot of expensive electronic kit, you may want to seek out specialist gadget insurance policies.