A big concern for many people travelling is protecting the items they take with them. ‘Single item limits’ are important here – buried in your terms and conditions, they restrict the maximum amount you can claim for a single item, regardless of your overall baggage cover. It can be around £500 – not even enough to cover the latest smartphone, let alone an Apple laptop.
Unfortunately, travel insurance price comparison sites aren't much help with detailed questions like single item limits and few travel insurers advertise these details of the cover up front.
John Lewis Travel Insurance are one example of a provider that does pull out this detail. They recoginsed the problem that single item limits can cause for photographers or people carrying smartphones or laptops, and created a 'Technology Cover' add-on to their Premier and Plus travel insurance policies. This provides £2,500 of cover for gadgets (including laptops) with a £1,500 single article limit.
Another insurance company deserving recognition is Alpha Travel Insurance, which has a gadget add-on that includes up to £1,000 of cover for phones, tablets, cameras and other gadgets on their policies aimed at the backpacking insurance market.
You will have to pay for the add-on but Alpha's policies cover laptops worth up to £200 as standard.
But for the other policies out there, we’ve done the hard work of reading the Ts & Cs to come up with our Top 5 Travel Insurance with High Single Item Limits.
Top 5 Travel insurance with high single item limits (inlcuding laptop cover)
- Churchill Travel Insurance with optional ‘extra cover’ on their annual policy - £750 single item limit, £750 valuables limit
- American Express Travel Insurance - Annual Prestige cover - £750 single item limit, £750 valuables limit
- LV= Travel Insurance - Annual Premier - £500 single item limit, £500 valuables limit
- Holidaysafe - Annual Premier Platinum - £500 single item limit for laptops and gadgets but has a varying valuables limit for eyewear, jewellery, photographic equipment, luggage and cosmetics of between £150 - £400 per category.
- Top Dog Insurance - Platinum Single or Annual - £500 single item limit, £500 valuables limit.
This list was generated by taking our Top 10 Travel Insurance providers, and ranking them by the single items limits of their highest levels of cover available. This was often (but not always) found on their Annual Multi Trip policies.
What are travel insurance single item limits? What are valuables limits?
It's pretty simple but it takes some unpicking of the jargon - insurers might offer you, lets say, £1,500 of “baggage cover”. That’s the number you’ll see on summaries on comparison sites or on insurers’ own sites. It may sound high enough if you are worried about taking your iPhone that's worth £650 abroad, but it is not the end of the story.
First of all, insurers consider two types of possession you might take with you. The first is a 'valuable' - typically the items that thieves consider the most attractive such as photography, video, audio and laptop equipment, mobile phones, jewellery and watches. Each insurer has their own precise definition.
The second would be simple 'items' - things that may still be worth something but aren't included under their definition of a valuable as above.
To limit their losses, insurers often place a limit on the value of each individual possession you are claiming for, and this may be different for valuables (the 'valuables limit') and any other possessions (the 'single item limit'). They may also put overall limits in place for valuables too (an 'overall valuables limit') meaning you can't claim more than that amount no matter how many valuables are stolen. They do this to avoid a small amount of bad luck on your part (you turn your head and your laptop bag is gone) leading to a huge bill for them (the bag contained your diamond-studded, Vertu phone). It makes sense for limiting claims payouts, but doesn’t always make sense for the real world events where possessions are lost.
Since having a low single item or valuables limit can reduce insurers' losses, it means they can lower prices for the policy if they reduce these limits. So, you have to be twice as careful since it is all-too-often the attractively cheap policies that have the lower limits. For example Go Travel Insurance have traditionally been a low-cost provider and consequently have a £150 single item limit. Similarly, Coverwise and Columbus Direct have single item limits of £200 and £300 respectively.
What other options are there to cover valuable items?
Beyond looking within Travel Insurance for cover, you have two further options; firstly, Home Insurance - most policies can be extended to cover your personal possessions when outside your home. You will need to discuss this with your home insurer as there can be limits on whether the items are covered abroad and what kind of damage / loss is covered (some cover includes theft but not accidental damage for example). There might also be a limit on the number of days you are allowed abroad per year. If you choose this cover, they will often increase your premium to reflect it, but it can be good value.
A second option is gadget insurance. Many gadget insurance policies include a degree of cover when travelling abroad. Our gadget insurance group has a 22% discount with the insurer iDigital, whose policy allows you to take your insured gadgets overseas for up to 90 days in any one policy year. Their policy covers accidental damage and loss, as well as theft, for laptops, mobile phones, and other gadgets.
The final word on high single item limits
In short - they might end up more important than you thought if you lose something of high value abroad! We hope this has helped you to understand the intricacies of covering a valuable item abroad. Please do check out our groups and related articles below.
Most importantly - safe travels and enjoy the trip!