If you’re like most people, you can’t go a day—much less a couple of hours—without your cell phone or laptop. They’re an integral part of our lives. That’s why we want to keep them safe, and if something happens to them, we want to make sure we can get a replacement without spending a fortune.
That’s where insurance comes in. Renter’s insurance protects your personal belongings like cell phones and laptops. However, the protection only extends to certain situations and at certain levels. Here’s what you need to know.
Personal Property Coverage
The part of renter’s insurance that protects your cell phone and laptop is personal property coverage. Personal property coverage covers your possessions for certain risks called “perils.” (See the next section for the list of covered perils.) If your laptop and/or phone are stolen, or damaged by fire/smoke or other covered “perils,” your policy will pay for them, minus your deductible.
With personal property coverage, you choose the amount of coverage based on how much your stuff is worth. The good thing is that your possessions are insured whether they’re at your place or away from it. So, if you’re traveling with your phone or laptop, they’re still covered for those named perils. However, there are limits for these items when they are in your car, so it’s recommended that you not leave them there to avoid broken car windows and theft.
The list of covered perils can vary based on your policy. Common covered perils include: fire, lightning, smoke damage, explosion, windstorm or hail, riot or civil commotion, theft and vandalism. If it’s not listed on your policy, it’s not covered.
Wear and tear and negligence are not covered by renter’s insurance. Therefore, if your phone or laptop is old, if you misplaced it, or you caused the damage, it won’t be covered.
Replacing Your Phone or Laptop
Your policy will specify either actual cash value or replacement coverage for your personal property. Actual cash value is the amount the item is worth, minus depreciation for its age. It will probably not be enough to replace the item. Replacement value is the amount that you would need to purchase a similar make and model. It will cost a little more for a policy that provides replacement coverage.
A deductible is the amount that you are responsible for, before the policy pays anything. So, before you get reimbursed for your possessions, you pay the deductible out of your pocket. Your deductible could be $250, $500 or more. You have a choice on the amount of the deductible. The lower the deductible, the more expensive the policy.
In the case of your cell phone, it’s possible that the deductible may be close to the cost of replacement. If your deductible is $500 and the cost of a new phone is $550, it may not make sense to file a claim. You’d only get $50 from the insurance company, and it’s likely that filing a claim can raise your future premiums.
Your policy does not have a limit for how much it will pay for a laptop, cell phone or personal electronics, unless they are left in your car. In that case, the maximum your policy will pay for all of the electronics combined is $1,500. If your electronics are worth more, consider adding extra coverage to your policy.
Personal vs. Work
Personal electronics, including laptops and phones, will be covered by your renter’s policy. However, for work laptops and phones, there is coverage on the renter’s policy for business property. Business property on premises is limited to $2,500, and $1,500 away from the house but not in a car, and similarly at Starbucks or the library.
If you own your laptop and phone, and you use them for your home business, you need to insure them for that purpose. You can do that with a home business endorsement to your policy. If your employer owns the laptop or phone, they will likely determine who replaces or repairs them. Your insurer can add an endorsement called Special Computer Coverage that will provide the computer with open perils (covered unless excluded). This is only for computers and not cell phones.
When You File a Claim
You can file a claim for any of the covered perils. If your phone or laptop is stolen, you will need to file a police report. Your insurer will then order a copy. If your phone or laptop is damaged, you will need photos of the damage. Your insurance company will request the date of purchase, and where you bought your electronics. If you have photos of the owner’s manual, that can help prove that you own the computer or phone. A claims adjuster will talk you through the process. It typically takes weeks so you will need to make arrangements for a temporary replacement for your phone or laptop.
A Final Word
Not all renter’s insurance is the same. Some policies cover more than others and costs vary. Check with your insurance provider to find out the options.
Renter’s insurance is surprisingly affordable. For as little as $10 a month, you can get a renter’s policy at California Casualty. The cost varies depending upon the coverages you choose, the deductible, your financial responsibility score, and multipolicy discount. Even your location can have an impact. Areas with higher crime rates will have higher insurance rates.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.