Portable electronic devices are highly valuable but also easy to damage, misplace or steal. Insurance can be a good way to offset the cost of repair or replacement.
Before you take out insurance read the fine print, as some providers do not cover accidental loss or mechanical damage.
Check if your policy covers accidental loss. Some policies don't cover this.
It pays to shop around as insurance on electronic devices can vary greatly in price and cover.
Because electronic goods lose value quickly, insurance is of most use to you when the product is new. Before you take out insurance compare the cost of premiums per year plus the cost of the excess with the real value of the product.
Once you have taken out the insurance, if you change your mind you can cancel it within the cooling-off period, usually 14 days. Check your insurance contract for the exact cooling-off period and conditions.
Types of cover
There are two ways you can insure your portable electronic devices: you can add to your contents insurance or get separate portable cover.
Add to your contents insurance
If you already have contents insurance for your home, adding your portable electronic devices to your existing insurance can be a cost-effective option. Ask your provider what cover they provide for an extra portable item.
This will cost extra in your premium but if you need to make a claim, it usually won't affect your no-claim discount on your general contents insurance.
These insurance policies are also more likely to cover accidental loss of your device.
Separate portable insurance
You can also buy insurance specifically for portable devices from companies that specialise in this type of insurance. Separate portable insurance can work well for people who have no existing contents insurance. You'll pay your premium yearly or monthly, depending on your provider.
Be aware that some insurers won't allow you to start a policy if your electronic device is not brand new. You should also check if you are covered for overseas travel.
Case Study: Darren's phone disaster
Darren bought a top of the line smart phone for $900. He looked around online for the best deal on phone insurance but decided against getting any. He bought a case and screen protector to keep his phone safe.
A few weeks later, he dropped his phone down a flight stairs. The screen got cracked and the phone had problems turning on. He called the manufacturer but they said it was not covered by their warranty as it didn't cover accidental damage.
Darren ended up buying a new phone which took him a few months to save for. Before he bought his phone he went online and compared a few insurance plans based on premiums, excess, what damage they covered and how quickly they could replace his phone. He also compared separate phone insurance to adding the phone to his
home and contents cover.
The insurance plan he finally decided on covered him for accidental damage and bought him some peace of mind.
Check what's covered
Not all policies cover the same things. It is important that you find a policy that covers your needs. Check the Product Disclosure Statement to see if these things are covered:
- Replacement if the device is stolen (with a police report within 48 hrs)
- Reimbursement of unauthorised calls (usually only up to a couple of hundred dollars)
- Worldwide short travel cover
- Mechanical failure (only some policies cover this)
- Accidental loss (some separate portable insurance policies don't cover this)
Most policies do not cover the following:
- Phones stolen in a unlocked vehicle or visible in a vehicle or left unattended in a public place
- General wear and tear, gradual deterioration or developing flaws
- Phones worth more than $1000
- Restoration of electronic records
- Loss of stored files from a claimable event or a virus or hacker
It is important to know that most policies don't give you a new phone if you have lost one that is a few years old. Most only cover you for the current value of your phone.
Making a claim
If your portable device has been stolen you will usually have to notify the police within 48 hours and your insurance provider within 14 days. Proof of purchase such as a receipt should be enough to prove your ownership of the device.
You should also:
- Call your phone or internet provider to disable SIM or internet cards
- Ask your phone provider to clear your personal phone data (if you have anti-virus software on the device)
- Locate your phone via GPS (if you have this facility on the phone)
Remember that if someone steals your phone, laptop or tablet, they can get more information from it than they can from your wallet.
To keep your electronic devices safe:
- Don't leave them lying around in plain sight. Keep them as safe as you would your wallet.
- Don't save passwords on your devices. Try to create passwords that you can remember but no one else can work out.
- Activate the password or PIN security on your devices.
- Use mobile networks rather than free wireless when accessing your bank accounts.
- Always check the authenticity of the sites you visit - a smaller screen can make it hard to identify fake sites.
- Check your phone and bank statements for any unusual charges in case someone has accessed your mobile without you knowing.
Portable insurance can be a great way of saving you money when your personal devices go missing, but read all the terms and conditions before you sign up. Then you'll know exactly what you are getting for your money.
Last updated: 16 Jun 2015