When you leave the house in the morning, what do you take with you? There was a time when we all travelled light, perhaps popping keys and a wallet or purse into our briefcase or handbag, but not anymore.
These days we tend to carry all sorts of kit with us – mobile phone, laptop, iPod, maybe even a portable games console.
Electronic gadgets are part of our everyday lives, so few of us stop to think about their value. But the bill to replace the hi-tech equipment we carry around could run into hundreds if not thousands of pounds.
It is therefore a good idea to think about insuring your gadgets in case of damage or theft. And let's be honest, how many of us have lost a camera while travelling? Then there's the case of the mobile down the toilet or the iPod in the washing machine.
Does my contents insurance cover gadgets?
Most standard contents insurance policies will not cover your walking wealth because they only insure items when they are in the home. Some firms will cover belongings that you carry around, but you will probably have to pay extra.
The insurer might also impose a limit on the value of a single item. Plus, the excess on your contents policy – the amount you pay towards any claim – could be so high that it’s not worth your making a claim, especially if it meant you would lose your no claims bonus.
What does gadget insurance cover?
The alternative to relying on your contents insurance is a separate gadget insurance policy.
Gadget insurance covers your consumer electronics against accidental damage, including that caused by liquid/spillage, and breakdown or mechanical failure outside the warranty period. Most also include breakdown, as well as theft and loss whether you are at home or out and about.
But policy terms and conditions vary so you should always read the small print. Some insurers, for example, demand an extra premium if you want to cover loss.
Gadget insurance policies typically come with 24 or 48-hour replacement as well as worldwide cover in case you take your laptop or mobile abroad. Some firms also include mobile phone data back-up on registration, so if you lose your phone, you still have access to all your important information.
Watch out for exclusions. If you leave a gadget unattended, or you fail to report a loss or theft within 24 or even 12 hours with some insurers, you could invalidate the policy.
Look for any age restrictions. Some firms will not insure gadgets if they are more than six months old. And make sure you understand the excess rules. The excess is the amount you have to pay towards any claim and some polices levy different excesses in different circumstances.
The excess for theft, for example, could be lower than the excess if you claim for a lost item.
Many of us won’t leave the house without a laptop, which is why the right insurance policy can prove invaluable.
If you are insuring your laptop, always check that the policy limit is adequate, especially if you have a top-of-the-range device with a price tag of several thousand pounds.
The policy should also include damage caused by liquid, just in case you spill your drink all over the keyboard. Some insurers include screen cracks, but not all, so read the small print.
Find out, too, whether your laptop is insured for mechanical breakdown because it is excluded from some of the cheaper policies.
More people these days have an e-wallet or digital wallet account, which allows them to make purchases online. If you are one of the growing number of people who has embraced the new payment technology, look out for e-wallet cover with your laptop insurance.
You would then be able to claim for any money up to a certain limit, typically about £500.
Don’t forget to back up any important files or photographs stored on your laptop. The right insurance cover can pay for a replacement device, but it can’t replace any lost data.
Many people would feel lost without their mobile phone, which is why it makes sense to take out appropriate insurance cover.
Most policies insure your phone in the event of accidental damage. But check whether loss and theft are included as you might have to pay an additional premium if you want to be able to claim for a lost or stolen phone. Some insurers also impose a bigger excess for loss and theft.
E-wallet cover can be added to most policies for an extra premium – or you could go for a deluxe policy that includes this cover as standard.
It might also be important to find a policy that covers your phone abroad as well as in the UK. A typical policy will cover your mobile phone overseas, but there might be a limit on the number of days the phone is insured abroad.
If your mobile phone is stolen, the thief might waste no time in running up calls or using data on your device. A policy that covers unauthorised data usage is therefore a must, though you should check any policy limits.
Your insurer might also insist that you inform the service provider within a stated period, such as 12 or 24 hours.
On the train, out jogging, lying on the beach, many people like to tune into their iPod or MP3 player. But these little gadgets also act as magnets to thieves, so it pays to take out appropriate insurance cover.
A standard policy typically includes accidental damage, including screen damage, liquid damage, and breakdown outside the manufacturer’s guarantee. Theft and loss are also covered as standard by many policies, but not all, so it’s worth reading through the small print – and possibly paying an extra premium to get the cover you need.
Worldwide insurance is essential if you plan to take your iPod or MP3 player on holiday overseas.
Many of us like to capture life’s precious moments on a camcorder or camera. But photographic equipment can easily be lost or damaged, especially if you are travelling. It also appeals to opportunistic thieves, which is why you might want to think about insurance for your camcorder or camera.
You will normally have to provide your insurer with details of your camcorder or camera and it might be worth checking whether the policy includes cover for any accessories. Also, make sure the policy limits are adequate because you don’t want to be left with a shortfall if you have to make a claim.
Most camcorder and camera insurance comes with worldwide cover as standard, but there is often a limit on the number of days, so you might have to contact your insurer if you plan to take an extended trip abroad.
You will also have to tell your insurer if you plan to use your camcorder or camera for professional purposes, or your policy could be invalid.
Always keep your photographic equipment locked and out of sight when not in use. If you are carrying it around, use an appropriate padded case to minimise any damage from bumps and knocks.
Also, don’t leave the batteries in for too long because damage from old, leaking batteries can be costly to fix and is not always covered by camcorder or camera insurance.
How much does gadget insurance cost?
Gadget insurance can start from as little as £1.50 a month, depending on how many items you choose to insure. But bear in mind that it is almost always cheaper to cover more than one item on the same policy because insurers usually offer discounts for multiple items.
You can insure a range of electronic items, including: laptops, mobile phones, satnavs, iPods and MP3s, camcorders and cameras.