Check you’ve insured your tech before take-off

The days of packing your hand luggage with little more than a puzzle book, a bag of boiled sweets, a bulky Walkman and a cartridge-loading camera are long gone.

Now we can’t leave home without our iPhones, tablets, Kindles and laptops.

As technology has got smaller and more portable, these gadgets have become holiday must-haves to keep us occupied during a long flight, entertained on the beach, or up-to-date with news from home.

However, having these items could soon mean you’re carrying more than £1,000 worth of clobber – making you a prime target for thieves.

According to recent findings from Saga Insurance, 70% of the over-50s take at least one gadget away with them, whether that be an MP3 player, a smartphone or tablet computer.

For younger generations, the number of gadgets packed is often significantly higher and could, in some cases, almost make double figures.

But while you might pack an array of expensive ‘essentials’ without so much as a second thought, if you’re heading off on holiday, it’s vital to check your gadgets are adequately insured.

You may be relying on other insurance policies or guarantees to protect you, but if you’re not careful, you could find your particular gadget falls between the gaps – putting a severe dent in your wallet if you have to pay to replace it yourself.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to checking you’ve got the right cover in place before setting off on your summer break.

1. Trawl through your travel insurance

When taking out travel cover, many of us opt for the cheapest policy we can find. However, this can be false economy unless you’ve checked the small print.

Before jetting off, set aside some time to check you have adequate cover in place; make sure baggage cover is enough to pay out for gadgets, and pay particular attention to the ‘single item limit’ set out in your paperwork for individual items such as laptops or ipods.

This is the maximum amount the insurer will pay out for one single item – irrespective of how much cover the policy provides for your personal belongings in total.

The average single article item limit is around £300, but limits can vary considerably from one policy to the next, so check this.

If you’re planning on taking a host of gadgets with you on your travels, speak to your insurer to see if your single item limit can be increased; some insurers will do this in return for an additional fee.

However, also be aware that some policies will not cover you at all for certain items, such as a mobile phone.

If this is the case, you need to make alternative plans to ensure your iPhone, Blackberry or other smartphone is protected while you’re away.

If you already have mobile phone insurance as part of your contract, this may cover you overseas, but make sure you check this.

The same applies if you already have some form of cover with any other of your gadgets – you need to read the small print.

2. Home in on home cover

Some home insurance policies will cover valuables overseas; the clause you need to look out for is ‘personal possessions cover’.

You will usually have to pay an additional premium to add this to your home cover, but this may be a price worth paying if it gives you peace of mind while you’re on your all-important holiday.

Your insurer may stipulate that accessories such as mobile phones, iPods and iPads need itemising on a policy for being covered as possessions used away from the home – so put in a call and find out.

Remember also to find out how much you are covered for, and for how many days.

Once again, if there is a single item limit in place, find out whether you can increase it to fir your circumstances.

Crucially, if you do have cover for your gadgets under your home contents, then don’t double insure; if valuables are already covered abroad, there’s no need to re-buy.

3. Pore over your packaged account

More and more people now have packaged accounts which throw in extras such as free travel insurance, breakdown cover – and also gadget cover – for a fee of anything between £5 and £25 per month.

If you have one of these accounts, find out if gadget cover is offered as part of your package, but make sure you scour the small print for any exclusions.

Also check if you can ‘add on’ features to an existing package. Barclays, for example, now offers bolt-on services, mainly insurance-based, in return for a fee.

For a monthly cost of £7.50 for example, its Premier Tech pack focuses on worldwide protection of gadgets and technology.

4. Seek out specialist gadget cover

Consider buying specialist gadget cover from a standalone provider, as this may be a better option than having items on your home contents policy, say.

The excess is usually much lower, and you won’t lose your no-claims bonus if your gadgets are stolen, lost or damaged.

With a specialist insurer, you may also be able to insure all your gadgets together under one easy-to-manage policy.

Most gadget insurance policies come with worldwide cover, but do watch out for exclusions if, for example, you leave a gadget unattended, as with some insurers, you could invalidate the policy.

5. Things to remember

When flying, always keep your valuable gadgets with you in your hand luggage, as they may not be covered if they are in the aircraft hold.

Once you’re at your destination, take sensible precautions such as keeping valuables on you at all times – or locking them in a safe in your hotel.

If you do have the misfortune of losing a gadget or having it stolen, make sure you register the event with the local police straight away and – if appropriate get a crime reference number. If you don’t, you could find you have problems when you try to make a claim.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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