/ Money, Shopping, Technology

Can you claim for lost digital downloads?

Woman falling while listening to music

With music downloads fast replacing CDs, are you confident that your home insurance covers the cost of lost tracks? Many don’t, so losing your laptop could mean waving goodbye to your music collection too.

If you’re like me, fervently clinging on to outdated formats like vinyl and cassette tapes, the issue of music downloads insurance might not be much of a worry.

Meanwhile, everybody else is embracing the future – even The Beatles have now joined the digital revolution, releasing their classics onto iTunes just last week.

The growth of digital music

The total number of digital music albums sold in the UK recently smashed past the 50 million mark, meaning that our CDs and LPs are gathering dust at a faster rate than ever before. Right now, digital music is big business.

According to research from Sainsbury’s Finance, us Brits have amassed over £1.3 billion in downloads. That’s a whole lot of Goldfrapp, Gorillaz and Gaga now firmly ingrained in our laptops and MP3 players, with the average collection standing at around £85.

But if someone broke into your home and swiped your computer and MP3 player, could you claim for your lost tunes on your home contents insurance or would you just have to let it be?

Are your downloads covered?

Sadly, the answer from your insurer is likely to be ‘no’. A significant amount of home insurance polices don’t offer any cover for digital music downloads. Not what you might’ve assumed. Sainsbury’s research found that 23% of people expected their downloaded music to be covered by their home insurance policy, even though this is often not the case.

There are many insurers lagging behind the times. I recently researched this subject for Which? Money and found that many insurance companies offer absolutely no digital download cover at all.

Digital music stores don’t have a legal requirement to replace lost tracks, although some do allow you to re-download lost or damaged music a given number times. That said, some might not be as forgiving, in which case the cost of replacing your entire collection could prove very expensive.

So what can you do to protect your tunes? In addition to making sure you have the right insurance, you definitely need to back up your files, especially if you have a lot of music.

Whether you’re a fan of Bach, Backstreet Boys, or Bachman Turner Overdrive, remember to keep hold of email invoices or card statements when you buy music online as you’ll need proof of purchase to make a claim.

If you own a lot of digital music, check your home insurance policy to make sure downloads are covered. If they’re not, maybe it’s time to switch to a provider who’s embracing the digital age.


Good point Alex, I’ll check my insurance policy next time I come to renew

I back up my digital music on an external hard disk, so feel quite protected, but if I lost all of my digital music, I can’t say I’d be too disappointed. I’d just re-buy some of my favourite music and forget about the rest. I guess I don’t feel that attached to most of it.

I wonder if you can insure digital photographs that you’ve taken yourself?!

Surely you should have a a back-up copy on a separate stand alone hard drive. Just as you should do for downloaded programmes. It’s easy enough – I got a couple of MP3 players holding most of my music.

Well, it would still a problem if there’s a fire in your house. It could take all of your back-ups. As Ben Stevens says in a previous conversation, perhaps keeping your data on a cloud server (ie. not physically in your house) would be a good solution: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/fire-would-you-save-your-pet-or-your-laptop/

I keep a back up copy on Virgin’s cloud system – and I have a fire-proof safe for the physical software – The chances of fire is much less than the chance of a computer malfunction.

Regarding house fire, when I used to work from home I purchased a fireproof safe to protect software I was developing.. Also my bank (Lloyds) would hold my discs when in a strong envelope and classified as “documents”

It’s good to store a copy of all music, photos and other important computer documents out of the house. I pop mine onto a USB stick which I keep in the car glovebox. Cheap and simple!

Nigel says:
6 June 2011

I was recently burgled and lost both my laptop and my portable hard-drive. My insurance does not state either way whether or not downloadable data is covered? If they don’t cover it would they need to specify that? They are currently considering matters.

Any thoughts from anyone?