Gadget insurance

What is gadget insurance?

Most people now own a number of gadgets; from laptops and smart phones to tablets and digital cameras. Many of these items are costly to replace so you can buy insurance to protect your devices. Gadget insurance can cover loss, theft or damage to your devices, but as with all insurance, the level of cover will depend on the terms and conditions of the insurance policy.

You can take out gadget insurance on most portable electronic items such as cameras, tablets, mobile phones, laptops, headphones and game consoles.

What do I need to consider?

When you buy a mobile phone, camera, laptop or tablet, they may offer to sell you gadget insurance. You do not have to buy this insurance and you could also arrange insurance yourself. But if you are considering gadget insurance, you should think about the following:

  • Do I really need to buy it?
  • What is the full price of this insurance for the year? Some policies have a reduced premium for the first few months.
  • How much will the insurance cost over the lifetime of the gadget? For example, for how many years do you expect you will use the gadget for before replacing it? Compare the price of the device with the cost of insuring it. This will help you to make a decision about whether insuring it is worthwhile.
  • Do you already have insurance that will cover damage? For example, is it covered on your home insurance? If there is cover under your home insurance policy, remember to check the excess, it may be higher than the cost of replacing the gadget. A phone call to your home insurance company will confirm these details.
Top tip
If you make a claim on your home insurance your premium is likely to increase.
  • When you buy a gadget from a business, you have the protection of the sale of goods legislation. If the gadget you bought becomes faulty, you are entitled to return it to the seller and seek a refund or exchange to the value you paid. You do not need insurance to cover a faulty product.
  • Even if you want to buy gadget insurance, don’t feel rushed into a decision by a sales person. You may be able to find cheaper insurance or better cover by shopping around.
  • You may only be able to take out gadget insurance on devices that are less than one year old.
Check the insurance policy small print
  • How much is the policy excess? This is the amount you have to pay before any claim you make is paid.
  • Are there exclusions? You may not be covered if you lose your device or you may need to specifically request this cover and pay a higher premium. Breakdown of laptops and computers is generally not covered. You may not be covered for theft if your device was left in an unlocked car.
  • For mobile phones, you may be required to provide proof of use between the date your insurance policy started and the date of the incident that you are claiming for. This may be difficult if you have a pay as you go phone.
  • If your phone is lost or stolen, your operator may charge you for any unauthorised calls made before you reported it as lost or stolen. Mobile phone insurance policies will often cover the cost of these unauthorised calls. However, the cover may only apply if you have reported the loss/theft to your mobile company and the Gardaί (or if you are abroad to the police service in that country) within 24 hours.
  • While your device is being repaired will your insurance company provide you with a temporary replacement? If so, will it be a similar make and model?
  • If your device has to be replaced, will it be a refurbished product or new one?
  • Your policy may limit the number of claims that can make within a specified period.
  • Insurance companies have different procedures when it comes to renewing your insurance. Some of them automatically renew on a monthly or annual basis. Others require you to choose to renew your policy every 12 months.
Top tips
  • Generally, with gadget insurance it only starts when the direct debit payment is in place so your gadget may not be insured for a number of days.
  • If you have more than one gadget it may be cheaper to get a policy with multi cover as opposed to buying separate policies for each gadget.
  • If you replace the insured gadget remember to inform your insurance company of the change so that the new gadget is insured. It is best to do this in writing.
  • If you buy insurance when you are buying a new gadget remember to cancel any existing insurance on your old gadget.
  • Electronic products reduce in value quickly so you may only want gadget insurance for a limited period, for example, two years. If this is the case, set a reminder for two years and decide whether you want to cancel or keep the insurance cover.
How to make a claim

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible and explain to them what has happened and ask them what your next steps are. Remember that some insurance companies specify the timeframe within which you must report a claim.

You may be asked to complete a claim form and submit supporting documentation, which may include

  • proof of purchase
  • proof of use or
  • a Garda report

When you make a claim an insurance company must:

  •  Send you a claim form within five business days of being informed of the claim
  • Offer to help you with the claim
  • Make sure that any offer made following the claims process is fair to you
  • Tell you within 10 business days of them making a decision on the claim
  • Allow you 10 business days to accept or reject the offer
  • Pay out on the claim within 10 business days of you accepting the offer
  • If they refuse your claim, they must set out the reasons, in writing

More information on what insurance companies have to do when you make a claim can be found in the Central Bank of Ireland’s Consumer Protection Code 2012.

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