Mobile phone, tablet & laptop insurance

Portable protection

Portable electronic devices are highly valuable but also easy to damage, misplace or steal. Insurance can be a good way to offset the cost of repair or replacement.

Before you take out insurance read the fine print, as some providers do not cover accidental loss or mechanical damage.

Choosing mobile phone, tablet & laptop insurance

It pays to shop around as insurance on electronic devices can vary greatly in price and cover.

Smart tip

Check if your policy covers accidental loss. Some policies don't cover this.

Because electronic goods lose value quickly, insurance is most useful when the product is new. Before you take out insurance compare the cost of premiums per year plus the cost of the excess with the real value of the product.

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 exact cooling-off period and conditions.

Types of personal effects cover

There are four ways you can insure your portable electronic devices. You can:

  • add it to your contents insurance
  • get phone cover from an insurance company
  • get cover through your phone plan provider
  • try on-demand insurance

Add to your contents insurance

If you already have contents insurance, adding your portable electronic devices to your existing policy can be a cost-effective option. Ask your provider what cover they provide for an extra portable item.

Ask for specific mobile phone or device cover because most general 'personal effects' or 'portables' extras cover will not insure these devices. You will usually also have to tell the insurance company the make and model of your devices and check if the cover is for accidental loss.

Adding these devices will increase the cost of your premium but, if you need to make a claim, it usually won't affect your no-claim discount.

Separate portable insurance

You can also buy a policy direct from an insurance company. Separate portable insurance can work well for people who have no existing contents insurance, but it can be more expensive than adding it to a contents policy.

Some insurers won't let you take out a policy if your device is not brand new. You should also check if you are covered for overseas travel if you are planning a trip.

Insurance through your phone provider

If you have a plan with a phone provider you can also get phone insurance through your plan. This can be convenient if you don't have contents insurance, but it can be a more expensive option. Shop around before signing up for this type of cover.

If you are an Optus customer, or have been in the past, please see ASIC's media release on action we have taken against Optus to refund mobile phone insurance customers.

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.

Smart tip

If you have contents insurance, check whether your devices are already covered when they are taken outside of your home.

This type of insurance typically runs through an app on your mobile or tablet device. It can save you money by allowing you to decide when you need your portable personal belongings covered. However, there are risks with this type of insurance. 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. Remember to read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before you sign up.

Case Study: Jessica's phone disaster

Woman With Smartphone

Jessica bought a top-of-the-line smartphone. She didn't insure it and, a few weeks later, she dropped her phone down a flight of stairs. The screen got cracked and Jessica had problems turning the phone on. She called
the manufacturer but they said it was not covered by their warranty, which didn't cover accidental damage.

Jessica ended up having to buy a new phone. Before she did, she compared a few insurance plans based on their premiums, excess, what damage they covered and how quickly they could replace her phone. She also looked at the difference between getting separate phone insurance versus adding the phone to her existing home and contents policy.

Jessica made sure her insurance policy covered her phone for accidental damage, buying her peace of mind.

Check what's covered by your insurer

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

  • Replacement if the device is stolen (with a police report 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 in 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.

You should also:

  • Call your phone or internet provider to disable SIM or internet cards.
  • Ask 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. Keep them as safe as you would your wallet. 
  • Don't save passwords on your devices. Try to create passwords that you can remember but no one else can work out.
  • 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.

Portable insurance can be a great way of saving you money when your personal devices go missing, but read all the terms and conditions before you sign up. Then you'll know exactly what you are getting for your money.

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Last updated: 29 Jan 2019