Some of us overpack and some pack light. Some of us roll our clothes and other fold. But no matter our style when packing for a trip, there’s one thing none of us will leave home without — our smartphone.
They’re our cameras. Our way of checking in with home and checking in for flights. They’re our language translators and currency converters. They keep us entertained on long-haul trips and give us directions in unfamiliar places.
Not only are phones an essential part of travelling, they’re probably one of the most expensive things we take with us.
But travelling with smartphones is such a no-brainer many Australians have no idea they’re not necessarily covered by travel insurance if their devices are lost or damaged.
In fact, cracked screens and other damage to smartphones are becoming so common, insurers are increasingly restricting coverage for that damage altogether.
“All too often travellers damage or lose their gadgets only to later discover that they aren’t covered. Or they can only claim back half of the phone’s original cost,” comparetravelinsurance.com.au director Natalie Ball said.
“What’s more, a standard travel insurance policy may not necessarily cover the entire cost to replace your phone, due to single-item cover limits, particularly if it’s a pricey model.
“If your phone is worth upwards of $1000, see if you can find a policy with higher per-item limits. Or one that allows you to pay an extra premium to cover your high-value gadgets.”
Zoom Travel Insurance says about 10 per cent of all paid travel insurance claims are related to mobile phones.
It is also warning travellers to take a good look at their policy before taking their expensive smartphones away with them.
“We’ve seen a big increase in claims as a result of damaged and missing phones this year,”
Zoom marketing manager Kate Smith said.
“A lot of people leave them behind on planes and taxis or accidentally drop them on the ground.
“My advice would be to take extra care for your gadgets while travelling as some damaged or unattended phones won’t always be covered.”
Lost phones is another common problem for travellers but they are often left high and dry.
“It’s a painful experience but leaving your phone behind in your hotel room or bus seat wouldn’t be covered,” Ms Ball said.
“The onus is on you to keep your personal belongings safe and secure at all times. A good, secure bag is probably the best place for your phone to be while you’re on the move.”
Stolen smartphones are a different matter, and in those cases, travellers should report the theft to local police or a relevant authority and have proof of purchase ready to make their claim.
SO HOW DO I GET MY PHONE COVERED?
Have a good look at standard and comprehensive policies from a variety of insurance companies to see what they’re willing to cover. (More on that later.)
An added benefit of comprehensive policies is they will cover the full cost of your phone, regardless of how much you’ve paid it off.
But a good way to go is listing your smartphone as a specific high-value item when taking out your policy, which also safeguards it against depreciation.
“Most travel insurance companies will apply depreciation unless you specify your phone as a high-value item,” Ms Ball said.
“Just a few years can drop your phone’s value by as much as 50 per cent so it may be worth spending a little extra to ensure the phone value remains.”
According to comparetravelinsurance.com.au, these are the best options for travellers wanting coverage for phones.
• Travel Insurance Direct offers additional phone cover for up to $4000 on its comprehensive plan and up to $2000 on the basics plan
• InsureandGo offers a Gold plan with phone cover for up to $3000. The second-tiered Silver plan offers phone cover for up to $2000
• World Nomads covers phones and tablets for up to $2000 on its Explorer plan
• American Express offers up to $1250 worth of phone cover on its Ultimate plan or $1000 on its Comprehensive plan.
• 1Cover will pay up to $1000 for lost or damaged phones.
Ms Ball said it was important to compare options before buying a policy.
“Always do your research and see what varying insurers can offer you,” she said.