Gadget Insurance

Everything you need to know about travel insurance for your gadgets and electronics

When you’re setting out on a dream holiday, one of the most important things you need to do is take out travel insurance cover. Without travel insurance, a whole host of events and circumstances can conspire to ruin your holiday and hurt your hip pocket. These include overseas medical emergencies, flight delays, lost or delayed luggage, cancellation fees when illness forces you to cut short your holiday and much more.

But travel insurance provides the financial protection you need to survive your holiday if something goes wrong. It protects you against a wide range of common travel risks and gives you the peace of mind you need to explore the world with confidence.

However, when you’re shopping around for a travel insurance policy, it’s important to seek out a policy that offers protection for your travel gadgets while overseas. Items like laptops, cameras, tablets and smartphones are expensive to replace, so ensuring you have an adequate level of cover in place for your electronic gadgets is crucial.

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What Does Travel Gadget Insurance Cover?

Travel insurance covers all the common risks that any regular such as the cost of overseas medical emergencies and medical repatriation, lost or stolen luggage, delayed flights, cancellation fees when unexpected circumstances force you to cut your trip short, personal liability, rental vehicle excess and much more.

However, in addition to all these cover features, travel gadgets insurance allows you to take out cover for the electronic gadgets you take with you while travelling. This includes laptops, tablets, cameras, smartphones, GPS systems and portable gaming devices. All of these items are not only important to many of us about are also quite expensive, so it makes sense to take out a sufficient level of cover.

A typical travel gadget insurance policy or policy option will provide cover for:

  • Accidental damage to specified electronic items
  • The replacement cost if your travel gadget item (or parts from it) are stolen
  • If your travel gadget is damaged as the result of intentional or deliberate actions of someone else, your policy will cover any necessary repair costs.

There are standalone gadget insurance policies available for those who want a higher level of cover for their electronic items, though it typically makes sense for many regular travellers to add gadget insurance as an option to their normal travel insurance policy.

What to Look for When Choosing Travel Insurance for Your Electronics

Backpack with sunglasses, headphones and laptop

  • What’s Covered? The first thing you should look for when choosing travel gadget insurance is what items you can cover. You don’t want to have your smartphone stolen overseas and then realise with horror that it’s not covered under your policy, so read the fine print closely to make sure you can take out protection for all the necessary items.
  • Limits of Cover. Next, check whether your policy has a limit on the number of items you can take out cover for. Some policies may only allow you to insure three items, so check this fact before you sign up for any one policy.
  • Sub limits. In addition, many policies will also impose sub-limits on the amount of cover that is available for certain items. For example, you may only be able to receive $100 for each individual item you elect to cover, which is obviously going to leave you significantly out of pocket in many circumstances. With this in mind, look for a policy that offers generous limits in terms of how much coverage you can apply for.
  • Relative or Replacement Cost. You’ll also need to keep an eye for the wording on travel gadget insurance policy. For example, your insurer will only give you a very small amount of money for your dodgy old laptop that runs an old operating system and has a crack in the screen if you have a policy that refunds the ‘relative cost’ of your belongings. A policy that pays out the ‘replacement cost’, however, will give you the money you need to buy the item new.
  • Excess. Finally, check to see how much excess you will have to pay if you make a claim, plus familiarise yourself with the list of exclusions to avoid any nasty surprises. One common exclusion is that theft claims will only be paid if your stolen gadgets were stored in a locked room or safe, which can be a hugely frustrating discover that many people don’t make until it’s too late.

Common Travel Gadget Insurance Issues

One of the most common problems people encounter when holidaying with their electronics items is leaving their gadgets behind. From leaving your tablet sitting on a coffee shop table to forgetting that it’s wedged in a seat pocket on a plane, it’s quite easy to leave our increasingly small tech items behind.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of policies will not cover you for forgetfulness. This can be frustrating for those who mistakenly believe their policy will cover them in such a situation, so read all the fine print of your policy before you sign on the dotted line.

Another common mistake travellers make is failing to check the benefit limits that apply to each of their electronic items. For example, you’ll end up significantly out of pocket if your brand new, top of the line laptop is stolen but your policy only insures laptops for up to $1,000.

Others simply fail to think about the sheer number and expense of the gadgets they take on holidays with them, and only realise their mistake once it’s too late.

Tips for Making a Travel Gadget Insurance Claim

  • Report the theft of items as soon as possible. This is a crucial step in ensuring that your insurer will accept your claim. Wherever you may be in the world, report the theft to the relevant authority, plus it may also be a good idea to notify the airline or hotel where the theft occurred. Obtain a copy of any police report as you may need to provide it to your insurer as supporting evidence for your claim.
  • Take good care of your possessions. Under the terms of any travel gadget insurance policy, you are required to take reasonable care of your possessions to prevent yourself suffering any loss. So if you leave your laptop bag unattended at the airport while you pop off to the toilet, don’t expect your claim to be accepted by your insurance company.
  • Record your mobile phone’s IMEI. Every mobile has an International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) code contained on the phone’s packaging or headset. Keep a record of this code as you will need it if your phone is lost or stolen.
  • Know how to get in touch with your insurer. Familiarising yourself with your insurer’s claims process and the number you can call ahead of time will help you lodge a claim as quickly as possible.
  • Be upfront and honest. Don’t try to mislead or trick your insurer. Simply disclose all relevant information that the insurer will need to process your claim.
  • Follow instructions and provide supporting documentation. The best thing you can do to ensure the fast processing of your claim is co-operate with all of your insurer’s requests, including supplying any supporting documentation. Failure to do so could result in your claim being reduced or rejected.

Common Travel Tech Disasters

  • Dead camera or phone batteries. The obvious way to avoid this is to charge up your gadgets fully whenever you get the chance. You could also plan to carry spares or even a special solar-powered battery charger.
  • Memory full. Your memory card is full and you have no access to a computer to upload your photos. Getting a bigger memory card is the easiest way to solve this problem — you’d be surprised how easy it is to eat up storage space on your card when you’re snapping off holiday pics. A spare memory card is another possible solution.
  • Lost Charger. You left your charger plugged into the wall in our last hotel room. No matter whether you’ve left behind a charger for your laptop, phone or anything else, this can be a hugely frustrating problem. Make a habit of checking every wall outlet before you check out of any hotel.
  • Your equipment gets broken while you’re travelling. First of all, fingers crossed that you have travel gadget insurance in place to offer financial protection. You can also buy tough protective bags for laptops and cameras to keep your items safe.
  • You dropped your smartphone in water and now it won’t work. If you’ve got access to the internet, hit up Google for some handy DIY repair tips. One solution involved wiping down your phone, drying it and then covering it with uncooked rice for 24 hours.

Travel Tech Tips

  • Your tablet is your best friend. There’s no need to carry around bulky maps or travel guides as you can now download these to your tablet. You can stock up your tablet with movies and music to help keep you entertained while in transit, while many modern tablets have good-quality cameras that you can use for your holiday snapshots.
  • Buy an unlocked smartphone. Buying an unlocked smartphone means that you can access cheap phone plans in your destination country, or use sim cards specially designed for travelling.
  • Make the most of the internet. From Trip Adviser to holiday booking sites and Google Maps, there’s a wealth of information to be found online. Stick to trusted sites and you can’t go wrong.
  • Make use of apps. From tracking your flight to finding restaurants around you, apps for smartphones and tablets can be a hugely useful source of info.
  • Make copies. Scan your travel documents so that you have a copy if you lose the originals.
  • Back up. Back up photos and videos of your trip to a cloud storage service so that you don’t lose any precious memories if you have a tech failure.

Apply for Travel Gadget Insurance

Electronics are a vital part of modern life, so make sure to protect your gadgets whenever you travel. Travel gadget insurance can make all the difference between a dream holiday and a trip you’d rather forget.

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Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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