Gadget insurance

Most of us have done it – cracked a phone screen, spilled coffee on a laptop or left the tablet somewhere. And when it happens, your first (panicked) thought is: “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 somewhere. And when it happens, your first (panicked) thought is: “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
Head of Home Insurance
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Posted 27 AUGUST 2021

What is gadget insurance?

Gadget insurance can cover the cost of repairing or replacing pricey electronics you own if they’re lost, stolen or damaged. In today’s digital world, we’re heavily reliant on our gadgets and some we tend to carry everywhere – you’d probably never leave the house without your smartphone, for example. This means there’s a higher risk of them being lost, stolen or damaged.

Many gadgets are expensive. If you have the latest iPhone, it’s likely you’re paying for it on a monthly phone contract. If it’s lost or damaged beyond repair, you’ll have to continue paying for it while facing the cost of a new phone to replace it. Gadget insurance can protect your essential devices if the worst should happen.

Gadget insurance can be bought as a stand-alone policy, but you should check whether you’re already covered by another policy – for example, home contents, travel or car insurance.

What devices are covered by 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
  • Apple devices – iPhone, iPad, etc
  • camera and camcorder
  • headphones (wired or wireless like AirPods)
  • fitness tracker
  • portable games console.

What devices aren’t covered by gadget insurance?

There are some things that won’t be covered by gadget insurance. For example, your policy might not include:

  • Devices that aren’t listed under your policy – always check your policy details to see exactly what’s covered.
  • Content like apps, music, films, photos and files.
  • Old devices – there’s usually an age limit. For example, if your smartphone is more than three years old it might not be covered.
  • Refurbished or ‘second-hand’ devices, including items bought on online auction sites.
  • Gadgets you didn’t buy yourself – for example, if it’s a gift and you don’t have the original receipt as proof of purchase.

As with standard home insurance, there may also be a single item limit. If you own a very expensive gadget, you may need to list it separately on your policy or you might not be covered for the whole cost of replacing it.

What does gadget insurance cover?

Gadget insurance can vary among providers, but it usually covers three main areas: theft, loss and damage. Damage could include mechanical breakdown and loss of functionality, but also things like liquid damage and cracked screens. Check the policy details for any exclusions to make sure you have the cover you need.

You might also have cover for any gadgets you take with you on holiday. Check if this is worldwide cover or whether there are any limits. For example, your gadgets might only be covered if you’re travelling in Europe.

Exclusions from gadget insurance cover

Make sure you read your policy wording for full details, but here are some common examples of exclusions you could expect:

  • Theft or damage due to negligent behaviour – 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’ll 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 covered. They 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 gadget for free.
  • Content/files – if you have any files, paid-for movies or music on a device that’s lost, stolen or broken, these usually won’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 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 won’t be covered.
  • Gadgets not listed on your policy – probably sounds obvious, but make sure you list all your gadgets on your policy.

Does my home insurance cover my gadgets?

Contents insurance generally covers your possessions inside the home against incidents such as theft, fire damage and flood damage. But there are two key questions when it comes to whether your gadgets are covered by standard home 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.
  • Are you covered when you’re out and about? We carry our gadgets with us all the time, but home contents 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 read the details before you buy

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 than the cost of taking out a separate gadget insurance policy," says Chris King, head of home insurance at Compare the Market.

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

Providing you have contents insurance, your gadgets are likely to be covered for loss, theft and damage while they’re inside your home. By adding accidental damage insurance, you can get cover for mishaps like dropping your mobile phone down the toilet. You can also add on personal possessions cover, which could cover your gadgets when you take them outside of your home.

Here are some other things to look out for:

  • What are the conditions? For example, you’re not covered if you leave your gadget unattended, how quickly do you need to report a theft and are you covered overseas?
  • What’s the excess? If your gadgets are cheap and your policy has a high excess (the amount you have to pay to make a claim), you might find making a claim isn’t worthwhile. Find out more about insurance excess.
  • What’s the single article limit? Most policies have a single-article limit, meaning there’s a maximum pay-out you can get for an item. If you have gadgets worth more than this limit, you’ll need to add them individually to 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 can be repaired. If it can’t, they’ll look to replace the phone with a like-for-like equivalent. If that model no longer exists, you may get an equivalent newer version. Check your insurance provider's policy on repair and replacement.

Camera insurance within a home contents policy

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. If you’re a serious photographer, 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 and equipment individually on your policy.

However, if you’re a keen amateur with a cheaper camera 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 checking the policy documents if you’re concerned.

Other ways to cover your gadgets

Your gadgets might already be covered:

  • Some bank accounts come with insurance as part of the package
  • Some product warranties are designed to cover minor mishaps

If you only want to cover your smartphone, consider dedicated mobile phone insurance. A smartphone policy tends to offer more comprehensive cover than gadget insurance. For example, some policies include digital download cover for paid music, films and books downloaded to your phone.

It might be worthwhile taking out a separate mobile phone policy if your handset is particularly expensive or you’ve signed up for a long-term phone contract. It might also give you peace of mind if you have a bad habit of losing your phone.

Does travel insurance cover your gadgets?

A standard travel insurance policy offers cover for personal belongings, but it’s unlikely all your gadgets will be covered. The single-item limit (the maximum cover for any one item) is usually pretty low, so might not be enough to provide total cover for your smartphone and tablet.

Check your policy details. If it doesn’t provide enough cover for your needs, consider adding travel gadget cover. This can typically be bought as an add-on to your travel insurance, but some insurance providers offer a stand-alone policy.

Top tips to protect your gadgets

  • Invest in a sturdy cover and anti-glare screen protector for your smartphone and tablets.
  • Regularly back up your data, photos and videos to the cloud or a USB device.
  • Don’t leave your gadgets unattended.
  • Register your gadgets on a security site like Immobilise UK National Property Register. It could help police recover your items and make insurance claims easier to process if your gadgets are stolen.

Can I get standalone gadget insurance?

At Compare the Market, we don’t offer standalone gadget insurance. But some insurance providers do offer it, if it’s something you think you need.

Before you look for an individual policy, consider adding your gadgets to your home insurance as this could be a more cost-effective option.

How much does it cost to cover gadgets on my home insurance?

It varies, depending on factors such as:

  • the value of your gadgets
  • the excess (the amount of any claim you’ll have to pay) you’re happy with.

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 any items worth more than the single-article limit, to ensure they’re adequately covered. Take a look at your home insurance policy – you might be pleasantly surprised to find you already have the cover you need.

Where can I get home contents insurance that covers gadgets?

We can help you compare home contents insurance that could offer cover for your gadgets.To get a quote, you’ll 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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Frequently asked questions

Do I need gadget insurance if my device is still under warranty?

While most warranties cover mechanical failure and even screen damage, they might not cover theft. Gadget insurance can provide extra protection not covered by a warranty.

What should I do if my gadget is stolen?

Call the police immediately. They’ll give you a crime number, which you’ll need to make an insurance claim. Then contact your insurance provider to start the claim process.

What if my gadget needs repairing?

Contact your insurance provider before getting it repaired – they may want you to use an approved repairer. If you choose one yourself, it could invalidate your cover and you won’t get a payout.

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