Yes. Homeowners insurance covers laptop or computer damage, but it is not always worth filing a claim.
Yes, if your computer or laptop was damaged or destroyed by a covered peril, it is covered by homeowners insurance. However, making a claim for a damaged or destroyed laptop or computer may not make financial sense in the long run.
While the personal property section of your policy will cover a computer, when you factor in your deductible — as well as any premium increase you will see after making a claim on your policy — replacing your laptop out of pocket makes more sense financially.
However, if you have a computer-specific policy that will protect your laptop or computer against damages such as accidentally dropping it, spills, or breakdowns, you should absolutely file a claim as you are paying for that extra protection.
Keep reading to learn how a homeowners policy covers computers and laptops as well as factors to consider when making a claim.
How much laptop or computer damage coverage does homeowners insurance provide?
A computer, laptop, tablet and other electronics are considered personal property by a homeowners insurance policy which means they are protected against damage done by a covered peril such as fire, lightning and even theft.
It should be noted that many homeowners insurance policies have a coverage cap on expensive electronics, which can include laptops. Typical coverage cap amounts can be $1,500 to $2,500. Check your policy or call your agent for specifics on your policy.
How much you receive depends on if your homeowners insurance policy is a replacement value policy or an actual cash value policy (ACV) and there is a major difference between the two.
ACV policies take deprecation into account when setting a claim value so your five-year-old computer will probably not be worth much in the eyes of your insurer, and it usually does not make financial sense to claim a computer on an ACV policy.
Replacement value policies will replace your computer with a brand new one of similar quality regardless of how old it is at the time of the claim. Check your policy or call your agent to see how your policy values personal property.
When does homeowners insurance cover laptop damage?
It will vary depending on your policy. Homeowners insurance only covers personal property against the perils listed in your specific policy. While the list of covered perils can vary by policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III) these are the most common perils covered by a standard homeowners policy:
- Fire and smoke
- Lightning strikes
- Windstorms and hail
- Vandalism and malicious mischief
- Damage from an aircraft, car or vehicle
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow or sleet
- Water damage
When it comes to electronics, lightning is often the culprit. Lightning can do a surprising amount of damage. 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.
In most cases, accidental damage from dropping the computer, such as spilling water on it or accidentally stepping on it, are not covered by a standard homeowner policy and are not considered perils. Many insurers do offer separate laptop or computer-specific policies that do cover this type of damage, but they require an additional premium.
What section of a standard homeowners policy covers laptop or computer damage?
Coverage C or personal property coverage does the heavy lifting when it comes to laptop or computer damage. Coverage C protects the personal property in your home, such as a laptop, furniture, other electronics, clothing, kitchen appliances and more.
In most cases, personal property is only covered against specific perils named in the policy. While it can vary, these are the most common 16 perils:
- Fire and lightning
- Windstorm and hail
- Volcanic eruption
- Weight of ice and snow
- Falling objects
- Accidental overflow of water from household appliances or plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or fire sprinkler systems
- Freezing of household appliances or plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or fire sprinkler systems
- Accidental cracking, burning, tearing, or bulging of plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or fire sprinkler systems
- Accidental damage due to short-circuiting of electrical current (excluding loss of necessary electrical parts)
Every standard homeowner policy offers coverage for your personal property, but personal property protection is usually capped at 50% of your total dwelling coverage. As an example, if you have $300,000 in coverage on your home, your insurer would cover your personal property at $150,000.
In addition to the coverage cap for personal property, there can be coverage limits for specific types of property which can impact your laptop. Many policies will have a coverage limit for portable electronics, which a laptop falls under, of $1,500 to $2,500. This means that regardless of how much your laptop was worth when it was destroyed, your insurer will only pay out up to their coverage limit for your new one and you’ll have to cover the remaining balance.
If you decide you need a higher limit for your portable electronics, you can usually increase this coverage limit and pay a higher premium.
Do I need to buy extra coverage to protect against laptop damage?
It really depends on the value of your computer and the type of laptop damage that could happen. If you are only worried about covered perils such as lightning or theft and your laptop is worth less than the coverage limits on your policy, there is no need to purchase additional coverage.
If your computer is worth a lot more than your coverage cap or you want to protect it against accidental drops, water spills, and breakdowns from normal wear and tear, you may want to consider home computer coverage. Many insurance companies offer separate computer coverage which protects your computer as well as other electronics.
While these policies will protect your computer against a wide variety of perils, most of them exclude coverage for computer viruses, software problems and blatant neglect.
Separate policies for electronics tend to be pretty affordable and prices typically range from around $70 for $1,000 worth of coverage and a three-year term to $300 for more comprehensive coverage with a higher coverage limit. Most of the time, you will need to pay the entire premium upfront.
How to make a claim on a broken laptop
Making a claim on a laptop or computer that has been destroyed by a covered peril is pretty straightforward, but if your computer simply needs to be repaired rather than replaced, there may be an extra step. Here is a quick overview of how to make a claim for a damaged or destroyed computer:
- Consider the deducible: Before contacting your insurance company you should run the numbers. When making a claim on computer you will have to pay the deductible outlined in the policy. Obviously, if your deductible is more than the value of your computer, it makes no sense to file a claim.
- Get a police report if necessary: If your computer or laptop has been stolen, you will need a police report to file a claim.
- Contact your insurance company: If your laptop was destroyed by a covered peril you will need to contact your insurance company or agent. Claim procedures and requirements vary by insurance company. In most cases, you will have to submit photos or video of the destroyed computer.
- Get a repair quote: If you are making a claim for a broken computer, you will most likely need a repair quote. Your insurance company may request that you get a quote from a local provider, or they may send you to a repair center that they work with on a regular basis.
- Cash your claim check: Once your insurer has investigated and approved the claim you will be sent a claim check minus your deductible, which you can use to repair or replace your computer.
Even if your computer is valued at more than your deductible you should consider the impact a claim will have on your policy. Once you make a claim on your policy, your rates will increase and you will lose any claims-free discounts you have, all of which may end up costing more than a new laptop.
If your computer is worth $1,000 and your deductible is $500, it rarely makes sense to use your insurance. The best advice is to pay for your new computer out of pocket.