Man sitting at a table holding his mobile phone and mobile phone bill

Central Bank research shows most consumers don't understand gadget insurance

Most consumers didn't plan on buying it until it was sold to them as an add-on.

Gadgets like smartphones, tablets, and laptops have become essential in the vast majority of households over the past number of years - in fact, research from ComReg this week showed that 98% of Irish consumers now have a mobile phone.

But what about protecting these gadgets in the event of theft, loss or breakages? The chances are you may have signed up for something like this when you bought your device, but do you know what it covers you for?

New research from the Central Bank this week shows that most consumers don’t understand gadget insurance, which could mean you’re overpaying - or paying for something you don’t need at all.

Confusion around gadget insurance

The Central Bank’s research showed that 12% of the adult population in Ireland hold this insurance. However, the majority of consumers surveyed didn’t understand their cover and thought it covered more than it did.

The research also found:

  • Most consumers didn’t plan to buy gadget insurance until it was sold to them when they were buying their gadget.
  • The majority of consumers said that when they bought the gadget insurance as an add-on like this, it was normally explained to them verbally by staff.
  • People often said they bought the insurance thinking it covered things like general repair and screen fixing for free.

Think before you sign up to gadget insurance

The Central Bank’s research showed that people didn’t generally seem to be know about things that were excluded from their cover, or about the excess - which is the initial amount you have to pay towards any claim.

Before signing up, think about whether you really need mobile phone or gadget insurance. If you decide you want it, the best bet would be to shop around and compare policies before doing signing up. Try to see what kind of plans are available.

In general, you will pay more if you sign up with the provider you’re buying the gadget from - mobile phone insurance that’s sold through phone providers can cost up to €15 per month, whereas more basic plans start at just €2 per month.

You should also be sure to check the excess before you sign up - many people surveyed felt it was unfair that the excess on some plans costs more than the repairs.

It’s also worth checking what the waiting periods are in the event you need to have your device repaired or replaced, and identifying any restrictions within the cover.

If your device is stolen, report it to Gardaí

If your phone is lost or stolen, you must report this to the Gardaí within certain time limits (usually specified in your policy) in order to make sure you’ll be covered under your policy - many people surveyed weren’t aware of this. Not doing so could mean your claim will be rejected.

Remember to cancel if you get a new device

One-fifth of people surveyed said they hadn’t cancelled previous policies after taking out a new policy - which means they’re paying for cover they don’t need anymore.

If you get a new device, or your phone is paid off and you switch to a SIM-only deal, make sure you cancel your old policy so you’re no longer paying insurance for your old device.

The Central Bank is using the research findings to help with an inspection of the sale of gadget insurance. For more information, see the Central Bank website.