A guide to insuring your personal possessions

There was a time when leaving the house meant grabbing only your keys and a wallet or purse.

Today, most of us carry a smartphone at least and, commuting into work or college, often a laptop or tablet too.

Smartphones can be worth several hundred pounds, so if you carry other electronic items as well, it’s quite easy to have an overall value running into the thousands.

Obviously, this involves risk. What if an item were lost or stolen or got damaged?

For protection in these situations, many will consider some form of contents insurance (for cover in the event of burglary, flooding or fire) or gadget insurance (for accidental damage, faults and theft away from home). These types of insurance can offer specialist levels of cover and might be more affordable than you think.

What about contents insurance?

It’s true that home contents insurance may already cover personal gadgets to a degree. Usually, if your home is burgled or there’s a fire, you should be able to claim. Always let your insurer know if a particular gadget is valued at over £1,000, though – and check the small print for the single item limit.

Remember, when relying on contents insurance you may not automatically be covered for accidental damage, or cover away from your home. If not, you might be able to add this on top of your policy, but it may increase your premium. You may also lose any no-claims discount you’ve built up should you make a claim.

A specialist policy may be more suitable for your needs, as they often cover other issues such as the cost of unauthorised calls when your mobile is stolen, or if the item becomes faulty. Specialist gadget insurance usually has a lower ‘excess’ – the amount you pay yourself if a claim is made.

Finding the best gadget insurance

Numerous companies will insure your gadgets. When you come to compare policies, which can easily be done online, typically the best will cover theft, loss, breakdown, accidental and liquid damage, unauthorised calls, texts and data usage.

Check if the insurer covers worldwide travel, what its repair and replacement policy is, if its technicians and engineers are approved by any industry organisation, and what the claims process is. You will usually be offered monthly or annual payment options if everything seems okay.

Also check the small print; some insurers have been known to sneak in clauses preventing them paying out in certain circumstances. E.g. theft only being covered if it’s ‘by force’ – meaning if something is taken from your bag when you aren’t looking, that doesn’t count.

Similarly, they may insist a degree of ‘reasonable care’ is taken. If your phone is zipped into your coat pocket, OK – but if you carelessly leave it on the train, they may not help.

A gadget’s age can also be a factor – some insurers won’t cover anything over a year old. Always keep receipts and any proof of purchase, as insurers might require this should a claim be made. The policy may even insist you notify police within a specific timeframe when an item is lost or stolen, while others may not include water under accidental damage cover. Bear in mind that the more a policy allows you to claim for, the more expensive it’s likely to be.

Types of policies

If you’re really into gadgets – carrying a smartphone, camera, MP3, satnav, console etc. – or if family members all have phones and laptops too, then consider multi-gadget cover. This means insuring several items under one policy. Generally, such insurance works out far cheaper than covering everything individually, although there may be a limit on the number of items.

Those in higher education, relying on items such as laptops and likely living in temporary or shared accommodation, should definitely consider student gadget cover. Insurers offering this will take into consideration a student’s lifestyle, needs and financial limitations – gadgets can be older, replacements will be issued quickly and premiums will be affordable, with a lower excess.

There may be stricter requirements, however, with proof of purchase insisted upon and items only covered if bought within the UK, and not via online auction sites.

Find out more about Home Insurance from MORE TH>N.

 

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