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Laptop woes: Dropped, soaked and lost

For many laptop owners, a great deal rides on the successful operation of a small machine (housing school, work or personal documents). It if gets stolen or damaged (usually on the eve of the big deadline), the loss can be devastating professionally and financially.

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One way to ensure that you can afford its repair or replacement is to buy laptop insurance coverage. Standalone policies for laptops are available through agencies such as SafeWare and Student Insurance Partners.

The types of losses covered vary by insurer but include theft, robbery and burglary, accidental damage (for instance, if your laptop is dropped or a victim of the dreaded spill) and standard perils such as floods, fires and power surges.

Why purchase standalone laptop protection?

Your laptop may already be covered through a home, business or renters insurance policy. Some home insurance policies offer optional endorsements that cover the information on your laptop, but make sure the coverage cap isn’t too low.

"It makes more sense to have a standalone policy for a low-dollar item like a laptop rather than filing against a business or homeowners insurance policy, because if you file a claim, your rates might increase or, worse, result in a cancellation of the policy [if you have multiple claims]" says Michael Cole, marketing manager for SafeWare.

Laptop insurance doesn't extend to all losses, however. Viruses, mechanical or electrical breakdowns, wear and tear and corrosion are not covered in standard laptop policies. Sometimes it's obvious that the laptop owner's carelessness or recklessness resulted in a loss. Egregious cases in which a laptop is peppered with bullet holes or stolen out of an unlocked car wouldn't be covered, notes Cole.

A laptop insurance policy exists primarily to protect the equipment -- the hardware and, depending on the insurer, some peripherals, such as printers, scanners, webcams, speakers and headphones. Some plans cover software, but if you have pricey software on your laptop, be aware of limitations and restrictions. For example, SafeWare covers only a laptop's factory-installed operating system, while Student Insurance Partners caps software coverage at $1,000 per loss. Any lost or irretrievable data are not covered.

Selecting a laptop insurance policy

When purchasing laptop insurance, consider the following:

  • Coverage amount:This is typically the replacement cost of your laptop at the time you purchased it.
  • Deductible:Companies generally offer a range you may choose from, but a typical deductible is $25.
  • Contract length:The minimum policy term is usually a year.
  • International coverage: Frequent travelers may want to consider policies that cover international claims. If you repeatedly travel to the same locales, check whether those countries are covered, because some may be excluded.
  • Types of losses covered:You may be able to select whether you want to insure against all or select types of losses. For instance, you may be able to opt for accidental damages only.
  • Proof required at time of claim:You may have to produce the original laptop receipt, the serial number, a statement and, in the case of theft, a police report.
  • Repair procedure:Find out how and where the insurer handles repairs.

For $2,000 of coverage and a $25 deductible, the annual premium is $75 for a full-coverage (hardware and several peripherals) laptop insurance policy from Student Insurance Partners. Without accidental damage coverage, such a policy would be $55 a year.

 

About the author: Doresa Banning is a Reno, Nevada-based freelance writer who crafts all types of copy, from articles to manuals, for companies and publications, both print and online. She holds an M.A. degree in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a B.A. degree in Writing/Literature from the University of California, San Diego. Learn more about her and her services at www.doresabanning.com. Follow her on Twitter @doresabanning.

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