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?

John says:
21 October 2016

I’ve just come up against the same problem- my travel insurance company ( which came out well generally in Which) has a limit too low to cover even a very basic DSLR outfit, so I’m looking at specialist insurance to cover that. To be fair, the cover level is stated very clearly, but it would be nice to have the option to cover more for additional premium ( which should be at a reasonable rate, as the admin costs would be covered in the basic policy)