COLUMBUS — As Thanksgiving approaches, many consumers are making their holiday gift lists and keeping an eye out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, especially for items like flat-screen televisions, exercise equipment, gaming consoles and computers. You may be excited about bagging a bargain, but before you’re asked if you want extra protection at the check-out, you might also want to know if you’re already covered for damage or loss.
“Now is a great time to find discounts on popular items, especially electronics, and it is equally important to protect the investment,” said the Ohio Department of Insurance. “Consumers should know what their existing insurance does or does not cover when deciding whether or not to purchase additional protection, like an extended warranty.”
The Ohio Department of Insurance offers the following tips:
Understand the Difference Between Insurance and Warranties.
Part of the holiday shopping tradition is the extended warranty sales pitch at check-out. However, a warranty is not insurance and does not cover damage in the way a homeowners or renters policy might.
Homeowners and renters insurance policies cover your personal property for loss due to theft or damage from an external cause, such as fire, lightning, wind, hail, explosion, vandalism or malicious mischief, etc. Manufacturer's warranties and extended warranties or service contracts cannot provide coverage for theft or loss from external causes. Warranties or service contracts provide repairs or service for defects within the product itself that prevent it from performing the function for which it was intended. They usually provide for repair of the item, or replacement if it cannot be repaired.
A manufacturer’s warranty offers a certain kind of guarantee to the quality or performance of an item for a specified time period. Some are lifetime warranties; others are one- or two-year warranties that cover malfunctions or repair needs. Warranties vary by product, model and manufacturer. Some retailers offer extended warranties or service contracts.
Find out what your insurance policy covers.
Check your homeowners or renters policy. Find out what household items and personal property are or are not covered under your existing insurance and if there are exclusions. Your insurance usually protects against theft or damage, though there may be limitations.
The amount of coverage and the nature of coverage vary with each homeowners and renters insurance policy. If your policy has actual cash value coverage, you will be reimbursed for the current depreciated value of the property at the time of the claim, minus the deductible. If you have replacement cost coverage, you will be reimbursed for the full cost to replace the item with one of like kind and quality, minus the deductible.
Know the terms and conditions of your policy or talk to your insurance company or insurance agent. Ask about or check your coverage amount limits to make sure your new purchases don’t exceed the policy limits that may apply to certain types of property such as jewelry, furs and electronics. Certain valuables might be better covered with an insurance rider or additional policy, depending on the circumstances. Your insurance company or insurance agent can help you assess the benefits and costs when considering this option.
If you are a renter and don’t have renters insurance, you might want to consider this kind of protection. Although your landlord should have insurance for structural damage to the building, the landlord’s coverage does not extend to your personal property. The average renter’s insurance policy costs between $15 and $30 per month. Replacing all of your possessions will cost much more.
Update your home inventory.
Keep a list of electronics and other valuable household items with model numbers and receipts. As you buy, give away or sell belongings over time, your coverage needs can change. Checking your inventory regularly can help you save money or avoid being under-insured. A home inventory can also help when filing a claim after a loss.
For More Information
Ohioans with questions about their insurance coverage can call the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 or visit www.insurance.ohio.gov.