Gadget insurance

Most of us have cracked a phone screen, spilled coffee on a laptop or left our tablet somewhere. When it happens, your first (panicked) thought is: “Is it covered on my home insurance?”. Here’s what you need to know about gadget insurance cover so you’ve got it when you need it…

Most of us have cracked a phone screen, spilled coffee on a laptop or left our tablet somewhere. When it happens, your first (panicked) thought is: “Is it covered on my home insurance?”. Here’s what you need to know about gadget insurance cover so you’ve got it when you need it…

Andy Webb
Insurance expert
minute read
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Last Updated 14 MARCH 2022

What is gadget insurance?

Gadget insurance can cover the cost of repairing or replacing your expensive electronic goods if they’re lost, stolen or damaged. In today’s digital world, we’re heavily reliant on our gadgets and tend to carry some of them everywhere, like our smartphones. So, there’s a higher risk of them being lost, stolen or damaged.

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

Gadget insurance can be bought as a stand-alone policy, but it’s a good idea to check whether you’re already covered by another policy – for example, home contents, travel or car insurance – before you invest.

What devices are covered by gadget insurance?

  • 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 items that won’t be covered by gadget insurance. These can 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 such as eBay.
  • 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, it can be smart to list it separately on your policy or you might not be covered for the cost of replacing it.

What does gadget insurance cover?

As with all types of insurance cover, gadget insurance can vary among providers, but it usually covers three main areas: theft, loss and damage. Damage could include mechanical breakdown, loss of functionality, liquid damage or a cracked screen. Make sure you check the policy details for any exclusions so you have the cover you need.

Your policy might also cover you for any gadgets you take on holiday. Check if this is worldwide cover or whether there are any limits - your gadgets might only be covered if you’re travelling in Europe, for instance.

Exclusions from gadget insurance cover

You should read your policy wording for full details, but here are some common examples of exclusions: 

  • Theft or damage due to negligent behaviour – if you leave your bag unattended and someone steals your phone, your insurance provider is unlikely to be sympathetic.
  • Items you can’t prove you owned – this is a tricky one. You’ll need some sort of proof of purchase when you make a claim. Ideally, a receipt is what you want, but sometimes photos or videos of you in possession of the item will be accepted.
  • Cosmetic damage – small scratches and dents to a phone, tablet or laptop won’t be covered, as they’re classed as 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 ‘cooling off period’. This means you won’t be able to make any claims for items until a certain time after your policy starts. So if you insure a camera with a deferred period of three weeks but then break it on day two, it won’t be covered.
  • Gadgets not listed on your policy – this probably sounds obvious, but make sure you list all your gadgets on your policy or they won’t be covered.

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 also covered:

  1. Are you covered for accidents? If not, you won’t be covered if you drop your phone and it cracks.
  2. Are you covered when you’re outside the home? We carry our gadgets with us all the time, but home contents insurance will usually only cover your possessions when they’re safely at home.

However, 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 Compare the Market, you can search for quotes that include these options, but every policy is different so make sure you read the details before you buy. 

So, while it’s possible to buy separate gadget insurance, it 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 phone down the toilet. You can also add personal possessions cover, which could cover your gadgets when you take them outside.

Here are some other things to look out for:

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

Camera insurance within a home contents policy

The best digital cameras can be very expensive, so can often be above 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 thousand pounds, so 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 be enough to give you the cover you need. As mentioned before, all policies are different, so it’s worth checking your documents to make sure you’re got adequate cover in place.

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, which will usually offer more comprehensive cover than gadget insurance. For example, some policies include digital download cover for paid music, films and books you’ve downloaded.

It might be worth taking out a separate mobile phone policy if your handset is particularly expensive or you’re on a long-term phone contract. It might also give you more peace of mind if you have a 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 to cover all your gadgets. The single-item limit is usually quite low, so might not be enough to provide total cover for your smartphone and tablet.

So again, the advice is to check your policy details. If it doesn’t provide enough cover for your needs, consider adding travel gadget cover, which can often be bought as an add-on to your travel insurance (although 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.
  • It might seem obvious, but don’t leave your gadgets unattended.
  • Register your gadgets on a security site like Immobilise UK National Property Register, which could help police recover your items and make insurance claims easier to process if your devices are stolen.

Can I get standalone gadget insurance?

Compare the Market doesn’t offer standalone gadget insurance, but some insurance providers do, so consider whether it’s something you need. 

Before you look for an individual gadget insurance policy, it might be worth exploring if you can add your devices to your home insurance, as this could be a cheaper 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 you’re happy to pay in the event of a claim.

In some cases, it may not affect your policy premium too much to add cover for your gadgets. You may just need to alert your provider to any items worth more than the single-article limit, to ensure they’re adequately covered. Read your home insurance policy – you might be pleasantly surprised that you already have the cover you need.

Where can I get home contents insurance that covers gadgets?

Compare the Market can help you compare home contents insurance that could offer cover for your devices. 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 the comparison service, you’ll be provided 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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