Is your gadget covered? Travel insurance is behind the times

Man on beach with iPad

You’d expect your travel insurance policy to foot the bill if your expensive iPhone was stolen on holiday. Well, we’ve found that many travel insurers are covering only a fraction of the total value of your gadgets.

Many of us take lots of gadgets and valuables on holiday with us these days – sitting on the beach catching up on the latest TV blockbuster on an iPad is a nice way to relax. Then there’s the expensive jewellery, watches and cameras that we pack for our trips abroad.

If one of these items is lost or stolen on holiday, you’d assume you’d be reimbursed under the personal possessions part of your travel insurance policy. However, we’ve found that the cover levels are usually insufficient and will be an unpleasant surprise if you have a mishap.

Of the 20 travel insurance providers we examined, all had a single item limit of £300 or less, with four companies (Axa, Columbus Direct, Insure & Go and Virgin Money) having a limit of only £200. This isn’t very much when you compare it to the average value of the items you told us you take away – smartphones (£372), iPads (£428), laptops (£671), watches (£1,667) and jewellery (£3,212).

Will travel insurance cover your iPhone 5?The numbers don’t add up

Companies will also take off an excess from the claim. So if you lose your brand new iPhone 5 while on holiday in Spain, you’d be able to claim back just £250 from a typical travel insurance policy (the £300 limit minus an excess of £50). That’s £250 less than it would cost you to replace the phone.

Insurance companies are also being far from generous when it comes to the overall limit for your valuable items. Some 15 insurers only cover valuables up to £400, and seven companies have paltry limits of £250 or less.

What can you do?

If you want to take expensive valuables away with you, travel insurers told us that your best bet is to take out ‘personal possessions away from home cover’ on your home contents insurance.

I don’t know about you, but I would assume that my travel insurance would meet my requirements. I wouldn’t think to double check my home insurance!

Ultimately, cover limits haven’t kept pace with the times and don’t reflect the equipment travellers take away with them. Our findings come as the Financial Conduct Authority announces a review of the travel insurance market. We want insurers to increase their limits or, at the very least, offer the option for higher cover levels for an additional premium.

Would you agree that travel insurers are being stingy with their cover limits? Or should travel insurance be more about the medical cover rather than gadgets?


Even the American Express Platinum Card gives travel insurance cover of only £500 per item. With the most basic iPhone 5 costing £529 and the 64GB version costing £699, this £500 limit is inadequate and not fit for purpose. This is particularly disappointing in view of the annual fee of £450 for the Platinum Card, which comprises travel insurance and other travel-related benefits such as airport lounge access and airline/hotel loyalty scheme upgrades.

Em says:
18 May 2013

I think it is unreasonable to expect personal travel insurance to cover high tech items that you haven’t bothered to insure for use in the UK. There is simply too much scope for fraudulent claims that the rest of us will end up paying for.

And why take expensive watches and jewellery on holiday with you? If you are visiting a third- world holiday destination it is simply not appropriate to be flaunting your wealth amongst the local community, regardless of any heightened risk of theft.

Michael Vinall says:
22 May 2013

I also agree with the first contributor in that expensive items should be covered specifically by the owner, and for loss or damage within this country or abroad. Otherwise insurance premiums would have to increase for all, including those who can’t afford such expensive items. I suggest that anyone who spends £1667 (your example) on a watch can afford to lose it.
Unfortunately on this occasion I think that Which magazine is giving the wrong messages.

will g says:
23 May 2013

I’ve just trawled through about a hundred different policies to find one where the limit is as high as £500 per item. This should be one of the ‘headline’ facts about insurance, not buried deep in the T&C.

M Parsons says:
24 May 2013

Anyone who takes expensive watches and jewellery on holiday (especially a watch costing £1,667) is taking a risk that it is unfair to expect insurers to cover on basic holiday insurance. A watch basically tells you the time: a £15 watch does this equally as well as one costing hundreds of pounds. All premiums would have to increase dramatically if such expensive items were to be covered automatically – higher value goods should be protected by an upgraded policy.
I know Which is here to protect consumer rights but really this is too much.

Jenny says:
26 May 2013

I absolutely agree that people who have these expensive items should insure them on their household policies. Presumably if they are taking these items on holiday, they also take them outside the home in the UK and should therefore be insuring them with ‘All Risks’ cover. It’s fine for Which? to point out to people that their holiday insurance might not cover the replacement cost of these items, but for once I don’t think they can blame the insurance companies.

Michael James says:
27 May 2013

I think Which is barking up the wrong tree here. I feel sure that anyone having these expensive, highly mobile items would have them covered by their home insurance through the ‘personal possessions away from home’ add-on. Getting them covered fully as well by travel insurance will only be causing extra, unnecessary expense for most consumers through increased premiums. It is better to have personal possessions removed from routine travel insurance altogether in order to reduce premiums, and then for the insurers to give the option of ‘special’ cover for personal possessions, graduated as required, as an extra if it’s really needed.


I read the Which article in the June edition on Travel Insurance and was surprised you did not cover pre existing medical conditions. As another member said if you have expensive portable gadgets, you would normally have them covered under your Home Contents insurance. Travel insurance for those with medical conditions is very expensive and can not be found easily through price comparison websites. Are you planning a review, before the holiday season, on Travel Insurance for travellers with medical conditions.