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Will my home insurance cover my computer if it crashes?

It depends on what causes the computer to crash. If the computer simply malfunctions, then no, home insurance will not cover the cost of repairs or replacement. Check with the computer manufacturer or retailer to see if the equipment is still under warranty. A warranty isn't an insurance policy, but it provides protection for a certain period of time in case of technical problems.

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However, home insurance will cover the computer if it is damaged by a peril listed in the insurance policy. For instance, if lightning strikes the home and zaps your computer and other electronics, home insurance will come to the rescue. Keep in mind, though, you still have to pay the deductible.

Lightning can do a surprising amount of damage, although it doesn't garner the attention of disasters such as tornadoes. Last year, lightning strikes caused more than $1 billion in insured losses, with the average claim totaling $4,846, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Power surges caused by lightning can destroy television sets, computers, gaming systems, even doorbells. The damage can be extensive--zapping everything that was plugged in--or more selective. A computer might get fried, for instance, but a television might survive.

Beware there may be a coverage limit for expensive electronics in your policy. Take a thorough inventory of your belongings and talk to your insurance agent about whether you need additional protection for computer equipment and other valuables.

Also, ask about the types of perils your home insurance covers. It's important to understand how you're covered and where you may be vulnerable. Standard home insurance, for instance, does not cover damage from floods or earthquakes. You must purchase separate flood insurance and earthquake insurance policies to get coverage in those disasters. Understand, too, that home insurance does not cover damage that results from lack of maintenance or day-to-day wear and tear.

For more, see Home insurance basics.

Last updated: Nov. 10, 2011
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