Taking a Camera, Laptop or Expensive Jewellery on Holiday? Protect Your High-Value Items With Travel Insurance
Travel insurance provides important protection against the loss, damage or theft of your personal items when you embark on a journey. However, if your suitcase is full of expensive items like laptops, cameras and jewellery, you need to be aware whether or not your travel insurance policy will cover the cost of such costly belongings. In some cases, you may need to increase your level of cover to ensure that you have adequate financial protection.
Going through a travel insurance PDS looking for specific limits can be time consuming and tedious, which is why we've done it for you. Below are the expensive items comprehensive policy limits for the providers in our panel.
Understanding how cover for expensive items works
When people take out travel insurance, many assume that their policy will cover everything but ... do you know which of your items are covered? Or for how much? When choosing a travel insurance policy, it is crucial to understand the limits and sub-limits apply of your policy.
Your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged, you may only be covered for the repair or replacement of up to a $500 limit per item. If you’ve had your expensive laptop stolen, this cover is obviously inadequate.
You wear your $20,000 engagement ring with you everywhere you go, but your travel insurance policy only provides up to $10,000 of cover for personal items. What would happen if something were to happen to that ring while you're away? Laptops, smartphones, cameras and jewellery are typically the most expensive items most of us take on holiday, so it’s important to understand what level of cover you have in place for them. To find out the specifics, read your product disclosure statements of insurance policies and familiarise yourself with the limits and sub-limits that apply. If you find that your current policy does not offer you the level of cover you need, many insurers will allow you to purchase increased cover options for items like laptops, cameras and jewellery to allow you to top up your cover.
Why you need extra cover for expensive items
When you consider the importance portable electronic devices play in our lives, not to mention the emotional significance attached to many items of jewellery, it's important to make sure your expensive items are protected should the worst happen. In the increasingly connected world, smartphones, tablets and expensive DSLRs accompany us just about everywhere. With this in mind, travel insurance for expensive items is crucial. Of course, it’s just as important that you make sure just how much cover you have in place, and under what circumstances you will be reimbursed when your belongings are lost or stolen.
Are laptops covered by travel insurance?
A laptop is a must-pack travel item for many of us whenever we go on holiday, regardless of whether we’re going interstate or to the other side of the world. Not only is your laptop an important tool for staying connected, but it’s also the perfect place to view and store your travel photos and to watch TV shows and movies during those long airport waits.
Most travel insurance policies will include at least some form of cover if your laptop is lost, stolen or damaged. However, be aware of the fact that you will most likely have to pay an excess when you claim, and that there are limits to how much an insurer is willing to pay to repair or replace individual valuable items. For example, an insurer may set a maximum limit of $1,000 of cover for each individual item.
With this in mind, it might be worth your while to increase the level of cover offered for your laptop and other specified valuable items. This can be done by paying an additional premium.
Tips for travelling with a laptop
- Adapter. Will you be able to plug your laptop into the power supply at your destination straight away, or will you need to purchase an adapter to allow you to access the mains.
- Carry it with you. Never put your laptop in your checked baggage. Baggage handlers don’t treat suitcases as if they are filled with fragile items, so keep your precious electronic device with you at all times.
- Buy a laptop bag. Simply chucking your camera into an ordinary backpack won’t do; carry it in a dedicated laptop bag with all the necessary padding instead.
- Turn it off. Make sure you turn your computer off completely (not just leave it in hibernate mode) when you pack it away in a laptop bag. If you forget to do this you run the real risk of your laptop overheating.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye on your laptop at all times, but don’t make it an open target for thieves. If you’ve got it out in an open space so you can monitor it at all times, make sure to do exactly that.
- Back it up. Prepare for a potential worst-case scenario and back up everything on your laptop either in the cloud or on a portable hard drive.
- Keep your receipt. Remember that you will need to provide proof of ownership if you need to make a claim for your laptop.
- Report theft to the police. If your laptop is stolen on your trip, report the matter to the local authorities within 24 hours and obtain a written copy of the report.
Are cameras covered by travel insurance?
Whether you’re staring spellbound at the bright lights of Manhattan or the majesty of the Taj Mahal, you’ll want to be able to create a lasting record of that moment in time - which is why a camera is an essential inclusion for many travellers. And while some digital cameras are inexpensive point-and-shoot devices, other cameras such as digital SLR devices with multiple lenses can be very costly to repair and replace.
If your camera is lost, stolen or accidentally damaged on your trip, your travel insurance policy will once again be able to provide cover for the cost of its repair or replacement. However, you’ll need to pay an excess if you make a claim and the level of cover provided can differ substantially between insurers.
Check with an insurer to find out the maximum amount they will pay for your camera and lenses, and consider the extra cost of taking out additional specified items cover if required.
Tips for travelling with a DSLR
- Packing prep. Check your camera and lenses before you travel to ensure that everything is in good working order and that you have everything you need for your trip. Arriving at your destination to discover you’ve forgotten your battery charger could be devastating.
- Detach the lens. Make sure to remove any lenses from the camera body before you travel. You will then be able to pack the lens much more securely and minimise the risk of damage.
- Buy a camera bag. If you really want to protect your expensive camera equipment, a dedicated camera bag with integrated padding is the best way to prevent damage on your travels. Special camera covers which keep out liquid and moisture but still allow you to use all the buttons may also be a worthwhile investment.
- Don’t pack your camera gear in checked luggage. We’ve all seen our baggage handlers treat luggage, so keep your camera gear in your carry-on bag whenever possible.
- Cleaning supplies. Lens wipes and other cleaning supplies are an essential travel item for any keen photographer - no matter what environments you’re shooting in, you’ll be able to give your camera the best possible care.
- Proof of ownership. If you need to make a travel insurance claim for your DSLR camera, keep in mind that receipts and other proof of ownership will be required to support your claim.
- Report theft to the police. If your camera is stolen on your trip, report the matter to the local authorities within 24 hours and obtain a written copy of the report.
Can I get travel insurance for an engagement ring?
Yes. Provided the value of the ring is within the maximum benefit payable under the policy, you can be covered for the value of the engagement ring. finder.com.au received an enquiry from a user looking to take a $20,000 engagement ring on his and his partners trip to Tahiti. Unfortunately, the maximum cover provided for high value items from the insurance brands on finder.com.au was $10,000 with Southern Cross Travel Insurance.
If the value of the item exceeds the limit provided under the policy, you may be required to take out separate cover to ensure it is adequately protected.
Real World Example Of the Importance of Covering Expensive ItemsPhotography enthusiast, Craig, is travelling to London for two weeks for a holiday. He packed his suitcase full of his most important belongings. Among them are his $2,000 laptop and around $12,000 of expensive camera equipment. Unfortunately, when Craig arrives at Heathrow he discovered that his airline had lost his luggage. Craig thought he had $15,000 of cover for personal belongings with his travel insurance policy. What he didn’t realise was his policy featured a per-item limit of $500. So, when Craig lodged an insurance claim for his laptop, his camera and three lenses, he was furious to discover that the maximum payout he could receive for these five items is $2,500. Add in the excess Craig had to pay for his claim and he was significantly out of pocket.
Limitations of cover
Travel insurance for cameras and laptops features a benefit limit for luggage and personal belongings, which is the maximum total amount they will pay if any of your stuff is lost, stolen or damaged on your trip. While a policy might offer a maximum benefit limit of $10,000, however, be warned that sub-limits often apply to the amount they will pay for any one item. So if an insurer limits its laptop cover to $3,000 and your $5,000 laptop is stolen while you’re overseas, you could be left out of pocket.
Next, keep in mind that there are some important exclusions that apply to travel insurance that you should be aware of. One exclusion is that your items will not be covered if you leave them unattended in a public place, while claims that arise due to your reckless behaviour or because you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs will also not be covered.
Finally, travel insurers will apply depreciation to your items when working out the amount to pay for your claim, so you might not receive as much cover as you would have expected for your treasured laptop or camera.
What’s not covered by travel insurance for expensive items
When examining the cover for expensive items provided by your travel insurance, you need to familiarise yourself with the limits and sub-limits. Every insurer has a maximum benefit they pay for the loss, theft or damage of your personal items, for example $10,000. However, on top of this, a per-item sub-limit also applies. For example, your policy may only pay a maximum of $500 per item. These sub-limits catch many travellers out and leave them with a very and expensive surprise. While they think they have $10,000 of cover in place for their stolen laptop, their insurer then only pays them the paltry sum of $500.
Am I covered if I leave my bag unattended? No. If you leave your luggage unattended your insurer will not pay your claim.
Does travel insurance cover gifts?
Say visiting relatives in the UK and they give you a new tablet as a gift for your birthday. And then on the way to the station that night you’re mugged and the tablet is stolen. Will it be covered by your travel insurance?
Yes. The good news is that travel insurance does provide cover for gifts you receive during your journey that are lost, stolen or damaged. However, you should be aware that sub-limits and maximum benefit limits apply to the amount your insurer is willing to pay, for example they may pay a maximum of $500 for tablets.
Read the PDS closely to make sure you’re aware of the cover available.
What is travel insurance depreciation?
Don’t assume that your travel insurer will cover your laptop for the same amount you purchased it for a few years ago. When you make a claim for a lost, stolen or damaged item, an insurer will apply depreciation to that item to work out how much it is actually worth today. The type of item, its age and the wear and tear it has experienced will all be taken into account when you make a claim, and depreciation usually applies to laptops, cameras, mobile phones, jewellery and other valuables.
However, if you decide to pay an extra premium and take out additional cover for specified items such as laptops and cameras, in many cases your insurer will no longer apply depreciation to your items.
Cutting your travel insurance costs
If you’re planning on travelling with expensive items, the simple fact of the matter is that it makes good financial sense to take out insurance cover for those items. It might mean your insurance costs a little more, but the extra cost will be worth it in the long run. Of course, it’s still entirely possible to find ways you can save plenty of money on your travel insurance.
- Be wary of commissions on travel insurance by airlines and travel agents
- Read the product disclosure statements of a number of competing policies to learn of the benefits, features and exclusions that each policy offers
- Do a price comparison, get travel insurance quotes online, so obtain multiple quotes from different insurers
- Remember, the cheapest quote isn’t necessarily the best, and you’ll need to take the level of cover offered into account when comparing quotes.
Making a claim for expensive items
Although the claims handling process can differ slightly between insurance providers, the general steps you’ll need to follow remain the same across the board.
- The first thing you’ll need to do is notify the insurer of your claim as soon as possible. You can typically do this over the phone or by getting in touch online.
- Your insurance company will then provide you with a claim form which you will need to fill out, sign and return.
- You’ll need to provide your policy number, your contact details, your travel details and any information surrounding your claim.
- The insurer will also request that you provide any relevant information to help them process your claim. For example, this may include police reports, proof of ownership, receipts, valuations and medical reports. If you fail to do so, your claim may be refused.
- Once all your forms and documents have been submitted, your insurer will work as quickly as possible to process your claim. You’ll typically be able to track the process of your claim and most insurers will pay out within around 10 working days.
Apply for Expensive Items Cover
Taking out travel insurance for your expensive items is something you must consider when planning a holiday, as it will give you the peace of mind to simply enjoy your travels. However, make sure to compare your options and read all the fine print before deciding on the best travel insurance* policy for your needs.
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*The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing travel insurance policies.