From the Kenosha News on 6-12-05

Make sure computer is covered by insurance

      When renewing my homeowner's insurance recently, I thought I read that my computers are not covered by my basic policy.  I decided I needed to look into protecting my computers.  I checked with my insurance agent, Jerry Werwie at State Farm.  He told me that my home computers are covered up to $5,000 for certain types of perils, including theft and fire.  If I had more computer equipment (which I don't), I could add that specifically to my policy, up to $10,000. 

      He also told me that add-on coverage is available for physical peril damages.  For example, adding insurance for a personal laptop against accidental damage (dropping it, for example) could cost as little as $35 per year for a $1,600 laptop.  This additional coverage also provides a $0 deductible for that item, whereas my homeowner's policy has a $500 deductible.  Smaller electronic items such as digital cameras, camcorders, handheld video games and iPods can also be covered.  (With the rampant theft of iPods, if you have one, I'd recommend looking into this.)  It even covers items you take on vacation overseas.  To insure such items, collect model and serial numbers and purchase prices and submit them to your insurance company.

      Of course, insurance coverages vary widely between companies and between policies, so contact your own agent to verify what your coverages are and what you might want to add.  Note also that computers used for business should be covered by a business policy, which has different guidelines and costs.

      Another idea Mr. Werwie gave me concerned students taking computers to college.  Student computers and electronics can be covered by the parent's homeowner's policy, but a better idea is to establish a renter's policy in the student's name.  This policy can cover all the contents of the student's room.  Advantages are that claims would not be made against the parent's policy and that students would begin to build an insurance history.  (I admit, I didn't understand all of this, but you agent can explain it to you!)  Renter's policies are also a good idea for any person who had "stuff" but doesn't own their own home.  They generally cover items stolen from a vehicle as well.

      Another option is to get a separate insurance policy for your computer.  The company I am most familiar with is Safeware (toll-free 800-800-1492.)  They insure computers and some other electronic equipment, including PDAs and iPods.  Their policies include all types of damage or can be for theft alone.  The premiums are based on the value of the item you're insuring.  For example, if you have a laptop that cost $1,300, you'd pay $6 per $100 of value or a total or $78 annually.  In the event of a loss, you'd get back that amount.  In some cases, they'll even help you locate and purchase a suitable replacement.  Rates for children (K-12) are higher at $9 per $100 with a $100 deductible.  Check for limitations; if you plan to take your computer or electronic gizmo overseas, there's an extra charge for that. 

      Remember that an insurance policy will not cover mechanical failures and breakdowns such as those that would be covered by a warranty or service agreement.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 6-12-05