Portable electronic devices are expensive, but easy to damage, misplace or steal. Insurance can offset the cost of repair or replacement if something happens to your device.

Choosing mobile phone, tablet & laptop insurance

There are several options for insuring portable electronic devices, however there are a few things to consider before choosing a policy.

Electronic goods lose value quickly, so insurance is most useful when the device is new. Before you take out insurance, compare the cost of premiums and the excess payable if you need to make a claim, with the real value of the device.

If you change your mind after you buy the insurance, you can cancel it within the cooling-off period, which is usually 14 days. Check your insurance contract for the cooling-off period and conditions.

Insurance at time of purchase

You may be offered insurance by your phone provider or store when you purchase your device and/or sign up for a phone plan. This may be convenient, especially if you don’t have contents insurance, but it can be a more expensive option. Check other options before signing up.

Add to your contents insurance

If you already have contents insurance, it may be cost-effective to add your portable electronic devices to your existing policy. Ask your provider for specific mobile phone or device cover because most general ‘personal effects’ or ‘portables’ extras cover may not insure these devices. You will usually have to specify the make and model of your device and check whether cover includes accidental loss.

Adding portable devices may increase the cost of your premium and may affect your no-claim discount if you need to make a claim, so check the policy wording carefully.

Separate portable device insurance

You can buy a separate portable device policy, but it can be more expensive than adding it to an existing contents policy.

This type of cover may only be available if your device is brand new. If you are planning to travel overseas, check if you will still be covered if you take the device out of the country.

On-demand insurance for portable devices

Some providers offer insurance for your portable devices, such as your mobile phone, tablet or laptop only when they are in use. This is called ‘on-demand’ insurance. For example, if you decide to take your laptop to a coffee shop, you can switch ‘on’ the insurance as you leave the house and switch it ‘off’ when you return home.

It typically runs through an app on your mobile or tablet and can save you money by allowing you to decide when you want to be covered. There are risks, for example, if your device is stolen or damaged while your insurance is switched ‘off’, you may not be able to claim on your policy, and will probably need to replace the device yourself.

You will usually be billed monthly and refunded for any days that the insurance is not active. It is important to remember that you may only be covered for certain types of damage under on-demand insurance. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully before you sign up.

Check what’s covered

Not all policies cover the same things. It is important to find a policy that suits your needs. Check the PDS to see if you are covered for:

  • Replacement if the device is stolen (with a police report – usually within 48 hrs)
  • Reimbursement of unauthorised calls (usually only up to a couple of hundred dollars)
  • Worldwide short-term travel cover
  • Mechanical failure (only some policies cover this)
  • Accidental loss or damage (some separate portable insurance policies don’t cover this)
  • Accessories, like earphones, headsets, cases or your mouse (this feature is fairly rare, but can provide cover up to a couple of hundred dollars)

Most policies do not cover:

  • Phones that are stolen from an unlocked vehicle, visible in a vehicle, or left unattended in a public place
  • General wear and tear, gradual deterioration or developing flaws
  • Restoration of electronic records
  • Loss of stored files from a claimable event or a virus or hacker.

Making a claim on your insurance

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.

Immediate actions include:

  • Calling your phone or internet provider to disable SIM or internet cards
  • Asking 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, treat them as you would your wallet
  • Try to create passwords that you can remember but no one else can work out and don’t save passwords on your devices
  • 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