Wherever you are travelling this weekend keep a tight grip on your gadgets as many will not be covered by your travel insurance if they are lost or stolen.
The typical family holidaying this Easter will have with them an incredible £2,300 worth of high-tech appliances among their belongings – from smart watches and e-books to laptops, satnavs and digital cameras.
Many travellers may be oblivious to the potential financial loss because they pay for their phone by monthly contract. But a lost iPhone 8, for example, could mean a replacement bill of more than £900.
Covered: Georgia Pacquette-Bramble had her iPhone 7 stolen while on holiday in Trinidad
Website Travel Insurance Explained recently conducted research among 5,000 holidaymakers about what high-tech accessories they take with them. Nearly two thirds said they travel with at least one – a phone, camera, iPad or personal computer.
Fiona Macrae, head of the website, says: ‘Many travel insurance policies do not cover gadgets as standard and a majority specifically exclude mobile phones. Others offer low levels of cover – often £500 or less – and demand a high excess, the amount the policyholder must contribute to any claim.’
She says there are policies that offer good cover but holidaymakers need to check any limits, exclusions and excesses to avoid disappointment if they need to claim.
The age of a particular gadget might also prevent a payout with some providers only covering items that are less than two years old.
Martyn John, of comparison website GoCompare, says: ‘Some travel insurance policies will only cover your tablet, camera, laptop and mobile phone if you pay for an add-on to the policy.
‘Some may also carry single item limits – so if you have got a particularly expensive piece of equipment, such as a camera, check it is covered.’
Georgia Pacquette-Bramble was relieved to find her policy with Postcard Travel Insurance covered her iPhone 7 when it was stolen while on holiday earlier this year.
The 24-year-old, from Chingford, East London, says: ‘I was on the last day of a two-week stay in Trinidad and I was buying lunch at a food truck. I had to reach up high to speak to the server. When I looked down my handbag was open and my phone and £40 cash had gone.’
She gave a statement to police and was told she was unlikely to see the phone or the money again. She says: ‘I had to show them my passport before they provided the relevant documents to pass to my insurer.’
Georgia, who is now in the process of making a claim for her £600 phone, says: ‘There is no excess to pay which is good news. I should also get a refurbished phone that is the same as the one I had taken.’
She is also lucky that her mobile automatically saved most of her holiday photos to the ‘cloud’ – a remote back-up system for data.
HOW TO COVER GADGETS
Gadgets are only covered by standard travel insurance if you pay a small extra premium – £5 on a single trip plan. Watch out for ungenerous single item claim limits and hefty excesses.
This cover can include ‘away from home’ or ‘all risks’ cover. It will allow you to claim for small value items, typically worth less than £1,500, that you take outside the home and are then lost or stolen – mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
Some insurers may include such cover as standard, but if not it does not usually cost much to add on – around £15 a year.
Gadget insurance is often included as part of a packaged bank account or phone contract. It can also be bought as stand-alone cover.
GoCompare’s John says: ‘The excesses on gadget cover tend to be lower than on a travel policy and the cover more tailored. But it can be expensive.’
Most gadget plans will cover you for loss or theft at home and abroad – but check the number of days included for foreign travel.
Martyn James, of complaints service Resolver, says: ‘Gadget cover varies with huge price differences, restrictive clauses and weird exemptions.
The big one to watch out for is the time limit for reporting the incident. Once you edge over a day, time is running out. You must also report a theft to police.’
Cheaper plans will not cover accidental damage. Another source of confusion is what you receive if a gadget is stolen. James says: ‘Most people assume they will get money to replace or update their phone. But you will only get the market price for your model – and only if it cannot be replaced.’
Policies for an iPhone 8 start at about £7 a month with excesses from £50. Among the best value policies are Back Me Up, CoverCloud, Debenhams and Protect Your Bubble. With Debenhams you can cover up to ten gadgets on one policy.
KEEP YOUR MOBILE (AND YOUR MEMORIES) SAFE
- Consider using screen covers and cases – dropping a mobile phone can spell the end for your device.
- Leave items in the hotel when heading out – preferably in the safe. Martyn James of complaints service Resolver warns: ‘Do not leave valuable devices unattended. Even if they are in a bag or coat, they must be within arm’s reach. I have seen claims rejected after honest customers specified the lost item was close but not directly within arm’s reach.’
- Always report thefts to the police. You need the correct paperwork to make a successful insurance claim.
- Remember to pack chargers and adapters. There is nothing more useless on holiday than a gadget without any charge. Consider buying a portable charger.
- Watch out for global roaming charges. It is not just the loss of a phone that could cost you. Using it abroad can burn a hole in your travel budget. Charges for using them outside Europe are punitive. Find free wi-fi and make free calls with the likes of WhatsApp.
- Back up photos every day to avoid losing memories as well as your phone.