Wednesday 23 October 2019

Sinead Ryan: 'Is gadget insurance the right call?'

Protecting phones and laptops can be pricey - and the devil is in the detail too

Phone cover: Policies don’t apply to all situations if something goes wrong
Phone cover: Policies don’t apply to all situations if something goes wrong
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

In the past, loss or theft usually meant a burglary or break-in at home. Your TV, jewellery or money was most at risk. You'd make a house insurance claim and cross your fingers. These days, it's far more likely to be your smartphone, laptop or tablet that light-fingered thieves snatch. Gadgets are easy to steal, valuable and simple to fence.

When it comes to insurance, things get tricky (don't they always!), and I'm often asked whether it's worth buying specific gadget cover for these items. It's an expensive type of insurance, relative to the value of the products covered, which reflects the risk involved.

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And in these days of internet hacking and GDPR, is your data insurable?

Warranty vs insurance

Ciaran Mulligan of Blue Insurance says: "Warranty protection is issued by the manufacturer; you pay up-front for one or two years which covers malfunctions. Most warranty services do not cover lost or stolen phones. Gadget insurance offers cover for lost, stolen or broken phones including water damage. It is important to remember that the cost of the phone you buy as a new contract or upgrade is not the same price as replacing it, as it's subsidised in a phone plan eg, an iPhone XR for which you might pay €300 could cost you over €1,000 to replace without insurance.

House or gadget insurance?

Many policies have a 'per item' limit, which can be as low as €1,000 but is normally around €2,000. This means the insurer won't pay out more than this for any individual thing lost/stolen, unless it is specifically and separately covered under the 'All Risks' section of the policy, which carries an extra premium. Additionally, there may be a clause which states that if the gadget is lost while you're out of the home, it can make claims more restrictive, and who doesn't have their phone with them all the time?

Terms & conditions

Research undertaken by the Central Bank last year revealed most customers don't understand gadget insurance products, claiming it was sold to them at point-of-sale, often based on verbal recommendations from shop staff, who may be on a commission.

In addition, many believed it covered more than it did (wear and tear, for example, is excluded) and a significant number were over-paying.

It also found that many customers were unaware that for a claim to be successful, the item must have been reported lost/stolen to the Gardaí.

These are serious findings, so it's really important when buying a new gadget to consider carefully the terms of any insurance product you buy to go with it.

What's covered:

Repair costs for damage as the result of an accident, or replacement if necessary,

Replacement for theft or loss (an additional premium may be charged for this if it's outside the home),

Refund of loss after fraudulent use of gadget (data, calls etc, usually limited in money and time).

Repair or replacement after liquid damage.

What's not

Theft from a parked car unless gadget concealed.

Theft from home, workplace or person unless force used to gain entry.

Damage caused deliberately, during routine servicing or by using non-approved accessories.

Wear and tear, routine servicing, or non pre-approved works, or damage to the SIM card.

Any accessories.

Loss of electronic data (eg, computer virus).

Any electronic gadget purchased by a private sale or on websites like eBay or DoneDeal. Cover is only in place if you buy the item from a registered, known dealer or shop, with a full receipt.

Irish Independent

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