Will Homeowner's Insurance Cover a Water-Damaged Laptop?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Water damage has an unfortunate habit of striking without warning. Whether you left an upstairs window open during a torrential rainstorm or returned home from vacation to find that your home's poorly-insulated sewer pipe had burst, chances are good that your experiences with in-home water damage haven't been pleasant. To make matters worse, you're probably aware that homeowner's insurance companies are reticent to cover the cleanup and repair costs associated with water damage. After all, most homeowner's insurance companies require their policyholders to obtain separate flood riders or full-blown flood insurance policies. If you're wondering whether your provider will cover the cost of replacing your water-damaged laptop, you'll need to do some research.

First, you'll need to review your policy's coverages. Most homeowner's insurance policies are issued on a "named peril" basis. In other words, they cover only those hazards that are specifically named in the policy's documents. If your policy is a "named peril" policy, you'll need to determine whether water damage is one such peril. If it is, you'll need to investigate further and determine whether this coverage provision applies to water-damaged electronic devices.

It's unlikely that your laptop will be covered: Even if your policy extends coverage to water-damaged electronics within your home, your provider's claims adjuster may argue that your laptop isn't technically a "fixture" in your home. If you occasionally use the device for business purposes, it may be excluded from coverage. For the purposes of your post-claim appraisal, "business purposes" may be defined very broadly. If you've used your laptop to send work-related e-mails at some point in the past, your homeowner's insurance company might refuse to cover the cost of its replacement.

If your policy does appear to cover your water-damaged laptop, you may be entitled to receive its current market value. However, you may have to prove that it wasn't damaged as a result of your own negligence. If you left a window open during a rainstorm or stored the laptop on the floor, it's unlikely that your provider will agree to pay for its replacement. To make matters worse, your premiums could rise as a result of your perceived negligence.

Even if your provider agrees to pay for your laptop's replacement, you might be disappointed with the payout that you ultimately receive. Since your laptop has undoubtedly lost some of its value since its purchase, your payout will be far lower than its former retail value. Rather, it will be closer to the device's current appraised value.

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