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Travel insurance cover for laptops, phones, and other expensive items

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Everything you need to know about taking electronics and other valuables abroad

Travel insurance cover for laptops, phones, and other expensive items
Photo by Nick Morrison / Unsplash

If you want to make sure your gadgets and other expensive items are covered while you're away, you'll need to take a close look at the terms and conditions of travel insurance policies – specifically at what insurance companies call "single item limits".

But to give you a head start, we've reviewed some well-known travel insurance providers to see what they offer:

Best travel insurance with high single item limits

  • Outbacker Platinum – "gadget cover extension" provides up to £3,000 of cover with a single item limit of £1,500  
  • Virgin Money Black – £500 single item limit, £600 valuables limit
  • Thomas Cook Gold – £500 single item limit, £600 valuables limit
  • Cedar Tree Platinum – £500 single item limit, £500 valuables limit, £750 gadget cover with the option to extend the cover to £3,000
  • Bell Premier – £500 single item limit, £500 valuables limit, £1,000 gadget add-on
  • Top Dog Insurance – Platinum Single or Annual - £500 single item limit, £500 valuables limit
  • LV= Premier – £500 single item limit, £500 valuables limit
  • Big Blue Premier – £500 single item limit, £500 valuables limit (laptops must be less than 15 months old and carry a £50 excess)
  • Coverwise Platinum – £300 single item limit, £500 total valuables limit
  • John Lewis Premier – £400 single item limit, £400 total valuables limit, 'technology' add-on with £2,500 gadget cover and £1,500 single article limit

This list was generated by looking our Top 10 Travel Insurance providers and other high-rated travel insurers, and ranking them by the single items limits of their highest levels of cover available.

This was often (but not always) found in their Annual Multi Trip policies.

Single Item Limits: Need-to-know

People expect travel insurance to protect the expensive items they take on holiday or a longer trip.

Insurers and price comparison sites often list baggage cover, which usually offers thousands of pounds of cover. However, that figure is unlikely to cover things like mobile phones, laptops and DSLR cameras because they tend to exceed what is known as the ‘single item’ or ‘valuable item limit’.

Single item limits restrict the maximum amount you can claim for a single item, regardless of your overall baggage cover. It can be around £200 or £300 – not enough to cover the latest smartphone, let alone an Apple laptop.

Single item limits are often buried in insurers’ policy documents and aren’t detailed upfront or on comparison sites.

Optional Extras

As you can see from the limits above, even policies with higher levels of cover than average may not be enough for the latest laptops and phones.

To ensure customers can cover expensive single items, some travel insurers offer extra cover at a cost.

This optional extra may be packaged as gadget or technology cover, or just extra baggage cover.

It will increase your premium but it can add thousands of pounds of cover for individual items to your policy.

Bell has a gadget add-on that will give you up to £1,000 of cover.

Outbacker has a "gadget cover extension" add-on to their travel insurance policies. This provides up to £3,000 of cover for gadgets (including laptops) with a £1,500 single article limit.

You're likely to need separate add-ons for things like golf cover, winter sports cover or items taken abroad for a wedding.

What are "single item limits" and "valuables limits"?

Insurers might offer you, lets say, £1,500 of “baggage cover”. That’s the number you’ll see on summaries on comparison sites or on insurers’ own sites.

It may sound high enough if you are worried about taking your iPhone that's worth £650 abroad, but that may not be the case.

First of all, insurers consider two types of possession you might take with you. The first is a 'valuable' - typically the items that thieves consider the most attractive such as photography or video equipment, mobile phones, jewellery and watches. Each insurer has their own precise definition.

The second would be simple 'single items or articles' - things that may still be worth something but aren't included under their definition of a valuable as above.

To limit their losses, insurers often place a limit on the value of each individual possession you are claiming for, and this may be different for valuables (the 'valuables limit') and any other possessions (the 'single item limit').

They may also put overall limits in place for valuables too (an 'overall valuables limit') meaning you can't claim more than that amount no matter how many valuables are stolen.

They do this to avoid a small amount of bad luck on your part (you turn your head and your laptop bag is gone) leading to a huge bill for them (the bag contained your diamond-studded, and brand new iPhone).

It makes sense for limiting claims payouts, but doesn’t always make sense for the real world events where possessions are lost.

Since having a low single item or valuables limit can reduce insurers' losses, it means they can lower prices for the policy.

So, you have to be twice as careful since it is all-too-often the attractively cheap policies that have the lower limits. For example Go Travel Insurance have traditionally been a low-cost provider and consequently have a £150 single item limit. Similarly, Columbus Direct has a single item limit of £300.

Travel insurance limits on laptop cover

Laptops are often classed as valuable items by travel insurance companies. That means the amount you can claim for a lost or stolen computer will be affected by the valuable item limit.

So whether your laptop is covered will depend on the value of the device and the cover limit.

If you’re taking a cheap laptop worth about £300 you may be fine with some policies.

However, if you’re taking a MacBook Pro or anything worth over £1,000 you’ll probably need to look into a gadget travel insurance add-on or separate gadget insurance, which we look at below.

Travel insurance limits on camera cover

New digital SLR cameras can cost thousands of pounds and they often need expensive lenses and accessories.

As with laptops, whether your camera is covered by your travel insurance will depend on how much it is worth and the valuable item limit.

More expensive equipment is likely to need a gadget add-on or a separate gadget insurance policy that covers cameras and accessories.

What other options are there to cover valuable items?

Beyond Travel Insurance, you have two further options: home insurance or gadget insurance.

Most home insurance policies can be extended to cover personal possessions when outside your home. You will need to discuss this with your home insurer as there can be limits on whether the items are covered abroad and what kind of damage / loss is covered (some cover includes theft but not accidental damage, for example).

There might also be a limit on the number of days you are allowed abroad per year. If you choose this cover it will often increase your premium to reflect it, but it can be good value.

Not all home insurers will offer this cover but it is available from companies like Hiscox and Together Mutual.

If you do make a claim for an item damaged on holiday it will affect your home insurance claims record, which could impact any no claims bonuses.

A second option is gadget insurance. Many gadget insurance policies include cover for travelling abroad.