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How tech obsessions can invalidate home insurance

Written by: Adam Powell, head of operations at Policy Expert
There’s been an explosion in the amount of hi-tech gear people keep in their homes or carry around with them when they’re out and about over the last decade.

But the owners of everyday items such as laptops, watches and hi-tech TVs face being unable to claim anything back if their tech gear is stolen, lost or broken.

Major problems can arise as the value of a pricey tech item can often exceed home cover claim limits or invalidate home insurance policy rules. In many cases people don’t even know the financial peril they face.

Why you might not be covered

Unfortunately, some of the cheapest policies exclude a number of hi-tech items completely from cover as they’re so regularly targeted by thieves, or are so often lost or damaged.

Most standard policies do provide cover for tech gear, but insist that hi-tech items worth over a certain value are ‘specified’ on the policy, or even insured separately.

The insurer may allow for one or two items to be included in cover above the specified sum (as long as it’s not too much above), but you must define what these items are. And if you have more than one or two the insurer might refuse cover altogether, or insist on separate insurance for each item (see ‘Stand-alone tech policies’ below)

Exceeding claim limits

Laptops, for example, are extremely commonplace, but they can also be extremely valuable.

Currently you could buy a top-of-the-range Hewlett Packard Zbook for around £5,500, or a powerful MSI Gt80 for £3,600. Both of these would far exceed the maximum single item claim limit you see in the majority of standard home insurance policies by quite a margin.

A typical single item claim limit for a reasonably good policy would be £1,500. So you stand to be under-insured by £4,000 for the Zbook, or £2,100 for the Gt80; considerable sums to be risking.

Take the new Apple watch…

Hi-tech items many people own can exceed the claim limits on a household insurance policy. Examples include digital cameras, iPhones, stereo and home entertainment systems, tablets, and music gear.

While such examples might be at the top end of their price range, there are still many relatively ordinary people who own such items.

Our love of the hi-tech and modern, combined with those who acquire such items for serious hobbies or business interests, has grown hugely over the last 10 to 15 years as technology has proliferated into the everyday lives of ordinary people.

And many of those who’ve bought something hi-tech don’t realise they could invalidate home insurance policy rules. They either don’t check or simply don’t think about the consequences of tech purchase on their home cover.

Such hi-tech items are all objects which burglars love, as they’re hugely valuable and can be snatched from coffee tables or off walls in an instant.

And even if they’re not professional thieves, there are unfortunately many people who, on seeing a laptop bag left unattended in the corner of a bar or club, will quickly whisk it away in a one-off opportunistic crime.

No away from home or accidental damage cover

Another reason why lovers of tech might not be covered is that their home insurance policy doesn’t allow for claims made on items that are lost or stolen when taken outside the home. ‘Away from home’ cover often has to be added to a policy for a small extra charge.

Breakages are also problematic, as many people assume they can claim for simply dropping a laptop which is then damaged. But unless your cover specifically allows for accidental damage claims, you can’t; again, ‘accidental damage’ insurance has to be bolted on to existing cover.

Standalone tech policies

Standalone policies for tech gear, such as phones, tablets and laptops are available, but can be quite expensive, and the claim limits still might not be enough, so check the small print carefully.



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