How many gadgets do you have with you at any one time? Is your smartphone always in your pocket? Do you frequently have a tablet and a satnav stuffed in your handbag or a laptop tucked in your rucksack? As consumers we have come to expect the technology these items provide to be on hand throughout our day, so what happens if your gadget is lost, stolen or your screen smashes after a damaging drop?

What does gadget insurance cover?

You don’t need to be gadget obsessed to consider taking out specialist insurance. Most people now carry a smartphone as they go about their daily business and other items like laptops, digital cameras and satellite navigation systems can also be covered with this type of insurance. So, if you attach a GoPro to a cycle helmet for your daily commute - in which case you’ll want to check out our cycle insurance guide too - or if you’re a student who dips in and out of social media all day, a single or even multi-gadget policy could be of benefit.

The cover offered by policies tends to be tiered and priced accordingly. More comprehensive gadget insurance policies typically include:

  • Commerical use
  • Accidental damage
  • Breakdown
  • Theft and Loss

Gadget insurance won’t necessarily cover you for calls made from your mobile if it is stolnen, so be sure to check your policy. Also look to see whether cover is new for old or if you’ll be offered a refurbished model to replace gadgets instead. Accidental damage and commercial use are not generally included in lower cost policies, so think carefully about how you use your tech and what types of problems are most likely to impact you before choosing your cover level. If you’re the kind of person who rarely leaves home with their tablet then additional gadget insurance may not make sense for you. However, if you frequently lose your mobile phone on nights out it could save you money.

Are my gadgets already protected?

Many people assume their gadgets are already covered under their house insurance or perhaps through a paid for bank account but it’s worth checking the ins and outs of your cover to be sure what you have in place is adequate. You may need to pay an additional fee to have items such as your laptop in order for them to be covered outside the home or to their full value. And, don’t forget, if you do need to make a claim this could impact on the future cost of your home insurance. With this in mind, you’ll need to weigh up if you’d be better off with separate gadget and home contents insurance. It’s worth noting that students who live away from home may have their gadgets insured as part of their parents’ home contents insurance but this isn’t always the case. It’s worth noting that student current accounts don’t generally include mobile phone insurance as part of the package either.

If you do have mobile phone insurance as part of a paid current account package - as many people do – are you aware of the excess or maximum payout? And have you registered the make and model of your phone? Some accounts have higher excess on certain mobiles such as iPhones (especially those expensive iPhone 7s!), or require you to register your phone with your bank in order to activate cover.

It’s possible you may have taken phone or tablet insurance with your network provider when you purchased your gadget or pay a monthly premium to them for cover. If this is the case, check whether it offers you the best value and service for your needs. This type of cover tends to mean your phone will be replaced more quickly in the event of a mishap but could cost you substantially more. Network providers usually operate a ‘handset blind’ price system, which means you pay a set fee whatever your make and model. This means if you don’t have the latest phone you could be paying over the odds. If your phone contract is up for renewal, you could consider using phone insurance as a bargaining point and trying to haggle to have it added on for free or at a reduced cost.

Protecting your gadgets when travelling

If you regularly take your gadgets abroad on business or like to go globetrotting with your gadgets to hand, there are a few points you’ll need to consider when choosing your cover. Your gadgets won’t necessarily be covered for accidental damage through travel insurance and if they are, your policy may have an excess that is quite high.

If you have gadget insurance in place, you will generally enjoy cover for up to 90 days outside of the UK during one 12-month period, but you should check the wording to be sure and remember to extend your cover if you plan to be away longer. Also consider how you plan to use the item while you’re travelling – will you leave it unattended in a hotel room? Does your policy cover you if the item is not locked away in safe? If you are unfortunate enough to have your gadget(s) stolen you’ll usually need to report the event to the police in order to get a crime number to make an insurance claim.

How much does gadget insurance cost?

Whether you pay monthly or choose an annual policy, gadget insurance can be fairly inexpensive, with costs starting at just a few pounds a month. Excesses tend to be lower than with bank account mobile cover or home insurance too, starting around the £25 mark. As with all types of insurance, more comprehensive cover tends to cost more. You should always be aware of any excesses and consider them in relation to your own usage patterns. For example, if you have accidental damage cover and drop your phone and smash the screen, will your excess be less, more or equal to, the cost of paying for the repair yourself?

Which gadget insurance is best?

If you’re searching for the right gadget insurance policy for you, you could explore options from banks, home insurers and also specialist providers such as Better Buy Insurance tinhatProtect your Bubble and insureandgo. Along with assessing the level of cover you get for the cost, you should look out for information on claim approval rates, limits on claims and discounts for multi-gadget family policies. You can find feedback on all the important things in our real-life customer gadget insurance reviews. Don’t forget to share information about your own experiences in the Insurance Choice Awards too!

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Whether you decide gadget insurance is a must for you or not, always remember to take a proactive approach to protecting data stored on your gadgets. Often, losing things like photographs and files stored on phones or laptops is the hardest thing when gadgets are lost, stolen or damaged, so make backing up part of your regular routine!