Portable, grab-able, breakable. If your laptop is your life, your insurance should reflect that.
There are many hazards in the daily life of a laptop and laptop insurance will repair or replace it if it falls victim to one. Did the screen break when it fell out of your bag as you were rushing to class? Did someone break into your car while you popped into the grocery store? Did you leave it on the train in a moment of absent-mindedness?
Laptop insurance will cover you for all these situations and more.
What is laptop insurance?
Laptop insurance refers to when you use a contents insurance policy to cover your laptop and maybe even some other personal belongings. The key is finding one that covers you where you'll be using your laptop. That means if you use it in the home and out of the home, you'll need to make sure your policy covers you in both places.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to structure your contents insurance policy to do just that, whether you're insuring just your laptop or everything in your home.
What are my laptop insurance options?
There are two main ways to get laptop insurance:
- Using contents insurance. Home insurers offer contents insurance for belongings inside your home and portable contents insurance for belongings outside your home. If you purchase both together, you can protect all the items in your home while giving you the flexibility to protect specific items like your laptop when you go out. If all you care about is your laptop, portable contents insurance will be enough.
- Speciality laptop insurance. Like a portable contents insurance policy, this will cover you both inside and outside the home. It's usually for more hardcore computer owners like people with high-end gaming computers or people carrying around tons of sensitive data.
What does laptop insurance cover?
It's important to insure expensive items like your laptop because if you damage it, the cost of a new one could sting. By purchasing the right contents insurance policy, you will be protecting your laptop from a range of issues that your warranty won't touch, including:
- Accidental damage. This includes dropping it, spilling liquids on it, stepping on it or damaging it in an auto accident. Just remember it won't cover scratches, dings and dents if they don't affect you laptop's performance.
- Accidental loss. Most insurers will cover you if you lose your laptop but only if you can explain how it happened.
- Fire, storm and other natural disasters. Your policy will cover most natural disasters. However, many exclude flooding unless you add it on for an extra charge.
- Theft. Most policies cover you if your laptop is stolen unless you act irresponsibly, like leaving it on a table while you pop into a bathroom or you leave it alone in an unlocked car.
If you go with a standard contents insurance policy, you'll have the added benefit of protecting the other belongings in your home like your TV, gaming system, furniture and basically anything that isn't nailed down.
Just make sure you add portable contents cover for your laptop if you commonly take it outside.
If you have a super high-end laptop, you might want to consider a speciality insurer that will have more experience valuing it and can help you source speciality components.
Why do I need laptop insurance?
Not only are laptops expensive, but they are attractive to thieves and they contain an intricate network of delicate parts that you can easily damage.
Having laptop insurance means you won't end up having to pay for a whole new laptop if someone steals it, you knock your coffee all over the keys or you accidentally leave it on a park bench.
Can I get laptop insurance if I already have contents insurance?
Yes. Most contents insurers will cover your laptop while it's in the home and they'll usually offer portable contents insurance as an optional upgrade. This makes it easy to get laptop insurance if you already have contents cover in place.
However, you're not required to go through your existing insurance company for your portable laptop cover. Feel free to purchase your portable laptop cover through an entirely different home and contents insurer or a speciality insurer.
What if I have a really expensive laptop?
Depending on the insurer, you may have to go through a couple of extra steps when insuring a particularly expensive laptop.
Most insurers will have a special category of contents insurance reserved for items they consider to be high-risk. This is called specified contents insurance (or specified portable contents insurance for cover outside the home).
If your laptop falls into this category, you will have to list out the specific make and model on your insurance application, along with its value. If it doesn't fall into this category, you don't have to list it separately as it will automatically be covered along with all other eligible items you own.
Some insurers will consider all laptops to be high-risk items, whereas others will only consider them to be high-risk if they're worth a certain amount.
How much does laptop insurance cost?
The cost of laptop insurance varies from person to person and depends on a number of factors, including:
- How much your laptop is worth
- How old you are
- How old your laptop is
- Where you live
- Your claims history
- If you want the laptop insured outside the home
- What else you're insuring with it
It also depends on how an insurer uses this information to calculate its final price. Your best bet is to get quotes from a few different insurers in order to avoid paying too much. Just make sure you pay careful attention to what each policy offers. You don't want to skimp on the policy features just to save a few bucks.
Does laptop insurance cover me for accidental damage?
Most laptop insurance policies will cover you if you accidentally damage your laptop, for example if you drop it onto concrete or spill water onto it. However, the damage usually has to be substantial and affect the laptop's functionality: You won't be covered against scratches, dents and dings, but you will be covered for damaged screens, ports and keys as well as equipment malfunction caused by an accident.
How to get your laptop insured
Getting your laptop insured is easy! Just follow these few simple steps.
- Decide whether you want to insure your laptop inside the home, outside the home or both. If you only need to protect it inside the home and you already have contents insurance, there's a good chance it's already covered. If you don't have contents insurance or you want it covered outside the home, you'll need additional cover.
- Shop around. You never know how much prices can fluctuate from one insurer to the next. Ring around to a few home and contents insurers and some speciality laptop insurers for a few quotes. If you already have contents insurance, ask your insurer how much it would cost to add portable contents insurance to your policy.
- Ask the right questions. Not all policies are the same so you'll want to ask the insurer about features that are important to you. Does the policy pay to help you recover lost files? Can you choose your own repairer? Does it cover you when you're overseas and for how long?
- Make your choice. Once you've narrowed down your options to a few insurers that tick all the boxes, you can make your choice.
- See if you need specified portable contents cover. If your insurer considers laptops to be high-risk items or if it's worth a certain amount, you'll have to list it separately on your policy. Give the insurer all the information it needs including make, model, value and proof of purchase.
- Pay your premium. Now all that's left is to pay for your policy. You may be able to save a few bucks by paying your premiums annually instead of monthly.
Laptop insurance traps to avoid
Insuring your laptop is a straightforward process, but there are a few traps you'll want to avoid. Here's what to look out for when getting cover:
- Check the benefit limits on individual items. Even if you have $5,000 worth of contents cover, it might not be enough to cover your $2,000 laptop. For example you might be limited to $1,000 per item up to that $5,000 limit. If $1,000 won't be enough, you'll have to list your laptop separately and ask for a customised benefit limit.
- Find out how your insurer handles repairs. Many insurers get to choose who repairs your laptop if it needs to be fixed. However, others will leave this up to you. Choosing your own repairer might be important to you if you don't want your sensitive data in the hands of someone you don't know or if you have a speciality gaming rig and want a particular expert to work on it.
- Look at the exclusions. There will be some things your insurance won't cover. For example, it's common for insurers to exclude general wear and tear and even damage caused by electrical and mechanical faults.
- Find out how your policy handles lost items. Most policies will cover your laptop if you lose or misplace it, but many policies will require you to explain how you lost the item. Some will even have exclusions that void your cover if you're neglectful or reckless. If cover for a lost or misplaced laptop is important to you, ask your insurer to clarify situations where you will be covered and situations where you won't.
- Find out how your insurer handles work computers. Many insurers exclude "tools of trade" (stuff you use for work) under a personal contents insurance policy. However, home office equipment like laptops is commonly allowed in spite of this exclusion. Make sure to ask your insurer for clarification if insurance documents are unclear about how they treat work laptops.
How to insure student laptops
If you're a student, your laptop probably never leaves your side and the files inside the laptop are priceless. You can insure your laptop using any of the methods outlined in the article, but one thing you should certainly consider is protecting all that hard work that you're using the laptop for. In other words, your files.
There are laptop insurance policies that will pay to help you recover lost data from a bricked computer. Unfortunately if the data is not recoverable, this protection stops there but at least your policy will pay for the professional help to get it back.
If your laptop was given to you by your university or department, you might want to see if it's already covered by the administration's policy before purchasing your own.
Laptop insurance for travellers
If you're constantly on the go, you'll want to find a laptop policy that works with your travel schedule. If you're travelling within Australia or New Zealand, most policies will cover you no matter how long you're away from home.
If you're going anywhere else, most policies will only cover you for about 14 to 90 days, which is perfect for small- and medium-length trips. Here's a table that shows how much overseas laptop cover you'll get from insurance brands in Australia in 2019.
|Brand||Overseas cover duration|
|Budget Direct||30 days|
|Virgin Money||30 days|
|Covertec||28 days with option to extend|
If you'll be gone longer than that, you should really consider travel insurance. Not only will it protect you from potentially devastating medical bills, but it will also protect that laptop for longer than a contents insurance policy will.
Even if your laptop insurance already covers your laptop, you should still consider travel insurance for the other benefits, especially the medical cover.
Get your laptop protected