Gadget insurance – a handy guide

Most of us have done it – cracked a phone screen, spilled coffee on a laptop or left the tablet behind. And when it happens there’s that first (panicked) thought: “Is it covered on my home insurance?” Here’s what you need to know to make sure you have gadget insurance cover when you need it.

Most of us have done it – cracked a phone screen, spilled coffee on a laptop or left the tablet behind. And when it happens there’s that first (panicked) thought: “Is it covered on my home insurance?” Here’s what you need to know to make sure you have gadget insurance cover when you need it.

Chris King
From the Home team
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Posted 26 MAY 2021

What is gadget insurance?

When we talk about gadget insurance, we mean insurance cover for pricy electronics that we typically carry around. Things like:

  • Mobile phone
  • Smartwatch
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • E-reader
  • iPod
  • Camera and camcorder
  • Headphones (wired or wireless like AirPods)
  • Fitness tracker
  • Portable games console

What does gadget insurance cover? 

It can vary between different gadget insurance providers, but it usually covers three main areas: theft, loss and damage. Damage could include mechanical breakdowns and loss of functionality, but also things like liquid damage and cracked screens. To make sure you’re covered for everything you need, make sure you check the policy details for any exclusions.

You might also get cover for taking your gadgets away with you, internationally. Again, the terms may vary, so check if it includes full worldwide cover, or if there are any limits to where your cover is valid. For example, a policy may only insure your gadgets for travelling within Europe.

Exclusions from gadget insurance cover 

As with most insurance policies, your level of cover is bound to have some exclusions. Make sure you read your policy wording carefully for full details, but here are some common examples of the exclusions you should expect:

  • Theft or damage due to negligent behavior – if you leave your bag unattended and someone steals your phone from it, don’t expect your insurance provider to be sympathetic.
  • Items you can’t prove you owned – this is a tricky one. Basically, you’re going to need some sort of proof of purchase when you make a claim. Ideally, a receipt is what you want, but this could also include photos or videos of you in possession of the item.
  • Cosmetic damage – small scratches and dents to a phone, tablet or laptop won’t be enough. That’ll fall under general wear and tear.
  • Damage that’s covered by a warranty – you’ll be expected to claim on your warranty instead, which should usually replace your product for free.
  • Content/files – if you’ve got any files, paid for movies or music on a device that’s lost, stolen or broken, these usually wouldn’t be covered.
  • Deferred period – when you take out a policy, there might be a deferred period . Also known as a ‘cooling off period’, this means that you won’t be able to make any claims for items until a certain time after your policy starts. For example. If you insure a camera with a deferred period of three weeks, but then drop it and break it on day two, it wouldn’t be covered.
  • Gadgets not listed on your policy – probably sounds obvious, but make sure you list everything in your policy

Does my home insurance cover my gadgets?

Contents insurance generally covers your possessions against incidents, such as theft, fire damage and flood damage. But standard home insurance doesn’t usually cover all situations, and there are two key questions when it comes to gadget insurance: 

  • Are you covered for accidents? If not, you won’t be covered if you drop your mobile phone on a tiled floor and it cracks or spill liquids on your laptop and it no longer works.
  • Are you covered when you’re out and about? We carry our gadgets with us all the time – but basic home insurance will usually only cover your possessions when they’re at home. 

Fortunately, you can generally solve these problems with a couple of add-ons to your home insurance; accidental damage insurance and personal possessions cover outside of the home.

When you compare home insurance with us you can search for quotes that include these options. However, every policy is different so you should make sure to read the details before you buy. In the next section we’ll look at some things to keep in mind. 

It is possible to buy separate gadget insurance, but this isn't necessarily the best option. "Typically, the additional cost to your contents insurance premium will be significantly less compared with the cost of taking out a separate gadget insurance policy," says Chris King, head of home insurance at Compare the Market.

For example: 

Insurance type Cost
Home contents insurance ^^^50% of people could achieve a quote of £68 per year for their contents home insurance based on Compare the Market data in November 2020.

^^^50% of people could achieve a quote of £67.86 per year for their contents home insurance based on Compare the Market data in November 2020.

Gadget insurance – what to look for in your home insurance policy

Providing you have contents insurance, you’re likely to be covered for damage to your gadgets in your home due to standard events like fire and theft. By adding accidental damage cover you can get cover for mishaps like dropping your mobilephone down the toilet. You can then add personal possessions cover, which protects items like gadgets when take them outside your home.

But even if those are included, you need to check a few details. It’s never fun to sit down and read policy documents, but it’s worth the effort.

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • What are the conditions? e.g. you’re not covered if you leave your gadget unattended, how quickly you need to report a theft and whether you are covered overseas
  • What’s the excess? If your gadgets are cheap and your policy has a high excess, you might find making a claim isn’t worthwhile. Find out more about insurance excess
  • What’s the single article limit? Some policies have a single article limit, meaning there’s a maximum payout you can get for an item – perhaps just a fraction of the cost of your top-of-the-range laptop or professional quality camera. For any of your gadgets worth more than this limit, then you’ll need to add them individually on your policy.
  • What happens when a claim is made? If you damage your phone and need to claim, your insurance provider is likely to check first if your mobile phone could be repaired. If it can’t they would look to replace the phone with a like-for-like equivalent. If that model no longer exists or cannot be sourced it may be you get an equivalent newer version. For example, if you have a 40” old CRT TV, one with the box at the back, this is likely to be replaced with a 40” HD LCD or plasma TV because that is what is readily available as an equivalent today. So see what your insurance provider's policy is for repair and replacement.

But don't forget, while your policy can get you a replacement gadget, it can't replace those precious photos, or important files so you should make sure you keep these backed up. If your current policy doesn’t offer enough cover, don’t worry. When you compare home insurance with us, we’ll help you find a policy with the great gadget insurance cover for your needs.

Camera insurance within a home contents policy

If you’re a serious photographer, digital camera insurance can be difficult to include in home insurance. The best digital cameras can be very expensive. It’s not unusual for them to go over the single article limit, which is usually around £1,500. Your entire set of equipment including lenses and flashes could add up to several thousands of pounds. In that case, make sure you specify the camera individually on your policy to get the cover you need. 

However, if you’re a keen amateur with a £300 DSLR and a couple of lenses, adding personal possessions insurance should give you the cover you need. All policies are different though so it’s worth reading the policy documents if you’re concerned.

Other ways to cover your gadgets

There are a few ways by which your gadgets might already be covered:

  • You may get a small amount of protection when you buy a gadget on a credit card
  • Some bank accounts come with insurance as part of the package
  • Some warranties are designed to cover minor mishaps

You might find that your gadgets are all covered and you don’t need to buy gadget insurance cover at all.

Can I get standalone gadget insurance?

While we don’t offer standalone gadget insurance, some companies do, if it’s something you think you need. In a poll of over 2,000 adults, 1 in 10 (13%) revealed they have taken out additional insurance on gadgets that are already covered under their household contents insurance. Taken across the UK as a whole, this means 6.5 million adults are unnecessarily paying double to protect their personal items.

If you do look for an individual policy, then make sure you’ve considered adding items to your home insurance too as this could be a more cost-effective option.

How affordable is it to cover my gadgets on my home insurance?

It varies depending on factors, such as:

  • the value of your gadgets
  • the excess you’re happy with
  • whether you want to include loss and theft cover

In some cases, it may not affect your policy premium too much to add on cover for your gadgets. You may just need to call out specific items if they’re over the single article limit to make sure you’re adequately covered. You may well be pleasantly surprised that you already have the right amount of cover in place. Our research suggests that over one third (36%) of those who are paying twice to insure their gadgets do so, because they’re unaware these are already covered. 

Want to know for sure? You can compare now to make sure you’re getting great deal to cover your gadgets.

Where can I get home contents insurance that covers gadgets?

We’ll help you compare gadget insurance options and prices when you search for home contents insurance.
See how much you could save on contents insurance including gadget insurance cover.

To get a quote, you’ll just need some basic information about your home and gadgets, including:

  • Any current home insurance policy documents
  • The level of cover you need
  • Details about your property
  • The value of your gadgets

Once you’ve answered the questions in our comparison service, we'll provide you with a list of suitable quotes. The results will also show you optional extras you might want to consider, such as accidental damage insurance.

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