Device ban: Your laptops should be covered by insurance

Richard Laycock 24 March 2017

business travellers waiting for their flight at airport

CEO of Fast Cover says the Insurance Contracts Act has your back.

While much of the coverage so far about the personal electronic devices (PEDs) ban for those travelling from certain Middle Eastern countries has widely stated that travel insurance won't cover your laptop if it's placed in your checked luggage, it turns out that the answer is not so black and white.

finder.com.au spoke with the CEO of Fast Cover Dean Van Es who said that while many travel insurers do have general exclusions for checked items, Section 54 of the Insurance Contracts Act lists certain circumstances where your insurer cannot refuse to pay claims.

"There seems to be differing opinions amongst insurers, but it's our understanding of the Insurance Contracts Act that travel insurance should provide cover if the airline forces you to check in devices such as laptops or tablets," said Van Es.

While cover for electronic items under the "Luggage and Personal Effects" section of a policy normally excludes damage to items that are checked into the cargo hold, Section 54 of the Insurance Contracts Act states that the insurer may not refuse to pay claims in certain circumstances, including where:

  • The act was necessary to protect the safety of a person or to preserve property.
  • It was not reasonably possible for the insured or other person not to do the act.

Basically, if the airline gives you no alternative other than placing the device in checked luggage, then Section 54 of the Insurance Contracts Act should prevent the travel insurer from rejecting your claim on those grounds.

Van Es said that this section of the Act would apply in these new flight ban scenarios, meaning that if travellers are forced by the airline to check in their laptops, their travel insurer must cover them.

"We want to do our bit to make things simpler for our travellers, so regardless of what other insurers decide to do, Fast Cover's policies provide cover for Australian travellers on the affected flights. People can still take their devices with them for business or on holidays and have one less worry knowing they will be covered," Van Es said.

Antje Lauterbach from Columbus Direct also weighed in, saying that consumers should check to see if their checked items will be covered by their insurance policy. "We’re currently trying to understand how the ban will affect travellers in the short and long term. If the ban is here to stay, insurers will need to review their underwriting policy in light of the new situation," said Lauterbach.

While Columbus Direct doesn't recommend people packing their PEDs into their checked luggage, it did offer this advice for those forced to do so by their airline:

  • Put your items in a waterproof bag, then wrap them in something soft (for example, clothes) before putting them into your suitcase.
  • Use a suitcase that keeps its shape and is easy to identify.
  • Consider locking your suitcase (use a TSA-approved lock when travelling to the US) or getting it shrink wrapped at the airport to make it tamper-evident.
  • Attach a label with your email address and destination airport to your luggage and make sure you’ve removed any tags from previous flights.
  • Know exactly what items you've put into your suitcase and where you've put them.
  • Get to the carousel at your destination as quickly as you can and check your bag as soon as you collect it.
  • Don’t forget to secure and back up any important data on your devices before you leave.

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Picture: Shutterstock

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