Insuring Your Gadgets Article


I know that protecting your gadgets is important to a true Gadgeteer. I have a
fantastic Palm Tungsten | C that has saved my sanity.

This little guy is my workhorse. I am your typical graduate student
overachiever that does everything on campus, so my life depends on my Palm
calendar. I keep books, notes and movie scripts with TealDoc so I always have
things to read. I listen to hours of audio books a day using the
software, and too many other things to mention. I spent about $450 dollars on
the PDA, and roughly another $200 on gadgets like cases, memory cards,
and the elusive headphones (is there anyone in America willing to make stereo
headphones for the Tungsten???)

There is not a breakout case for the Tungsten | C. Sure, there’s the Palm flip
cover and belt clip, but nothing like the legendary good old metal case for my
Palm 5x, the perfect case. This idea occurred to me when reading the review for
the new $124.90 dollar Tungsten | C
Vaja I-Volution Case, which looks fantastic. I
wanted one immediately.

But something occurred to me when going to buy the case. Why am I buying it?
The answer, duh, is to protect it. I love my little soldier, and can’t help but
believe that gorgeous color screen is easy to break. An extra $500 bucks is a
lot of money for a starving student.

Still, cases are inevitably bulky. In Judie’s review she said "I believe that
the Tungsten | C should easily escape being labeled a brick." but it’s close. With
the case on, this thing bulges through my leather portfolio.

Then it occurred to me. My Tungsten | C is covered through my renter’s
insurance policy. Better yet, it’s also covered in the $12,000 special policy I
have on my computer equipment, with a $100 deductible.

If you don’t have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, you are insane.
Accidents happen all the time, and it’s dirt cheap. Here’s an interesting note.
If you are under the age of 25 you are covered by your parent’s insurance policy
in an apartment or dorm for most insurance companies.

Let’s say you’re Joe Blow and you have a renter’s insurance policy. If you
want to add on a special policy covering $3000 of equipment (the minimum my
insurance company will insure) with a $0 deductible it will cost you $56 dollars
a year.

I don’t know about you, but spending $56 dollars a year to know that either
my computer, printer-fax-copier, Playstation (it counts because it has its own
OS, and any true Gadgeteer will be able to argue that even a VCR has an OS),
$2000 pen digitizer, digital camera, and all the other countless expensive
gizmos and gadgets are insured in case I spill coffee on them. They’re covered
if things break when you’re moving (if you pay someone to move you, "pay" your
friend $10.) It covers you if you throw your Windows 95 machine down the stairs,
my ultimate fantasy. Worth $56 dollars a year? Absolutely, I feel.

I know a case protects you from scratches but do they really matter? I mean
honestly, can you imagine a situation in using your PDA where someone would
notice the scratches? And if they did, and were someone other that Julie or
Judie would
you care?

I have to admit, I feel differently than Julie, who is in therapy right now
for her obsession with scratches and fingerprints on her PDA. ๐Ÿ™‚ Having a beat
up Palm PDA to me is the sign of a true workhorse. It says "I use this thing
enough to have a few scratches." Besides, realistically people like us don’t
keep our main PDA for more than a year, two years at best. When I pull out my
beat up Panasonic Allure cell phone that looks like it came from the Millennium
Falcon I say, "Yeah. She’s been a good horse."

So, for my precious Tungsten | C, I will continue using the flimsy flip cover,
to protect the screen from scratches. And instead of spending $124.90, I will
continue to take these kind of risks in life. ๐Ÿ™‚

These figures have been taken from my insurance company, USAA. USAA is a special
insurance company for families of naval officers, and I use them because they
are the "Cadillac SnoopDeVille" of insurance companies (Snoop actually makes
those) . No BS, great customer service, no waiting for claims. There are plenty
of insurance companies that will insure you for less, but remember you get what
you pay for.

One last word, spend five minutes and talk to your insurance company. You
will be amazed at the things you are insured for. I know people all the time
that blow money on things they are insured for, and I reluctantly have to tell
them they are ripped off. Think about insurance, and Happy Gadgeteering!


Posted in: Articles
{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Julie August 29, 2003, 10:38 pm

    Post your comments here on the Insuring Your Gadgets Article.

    Just click the POST REPLY button on this page.

  • dequardo August 30, 2003, 4:05 pm

    Normal homeowner ins. does not cover ‘coffee spilling’ and other breakage damage. It’s to ensure against theft, fire and the like.

  • talez September 1, 2003, 4:27 pm

    I agree with dequardo. I have looked into insuring property as well. However, the fine-prints are so fine that you really can’t claim much. It order for your gadget to be covered, specific things have to happen to it under specific conditions. It is almost like buying a lottery except this one doesn’t have a big return.

  • Judie September 1, 2003, 10:01 pm

    My hesitation about filing on Homeowners Insurance would be that it might contribute to raising your rates.

    As it is – I already pay almost $4K a year. I don’t think I could afford to pay any more! ๐Ÿ˜ก West Texas is tornado and hail alley, so it is inevitable that every couple years we have a claim for something related…which is why our rate is so horrific.

    Does a claim for an item that is carried on a rider count against your general policy? If so, I could never justify making the claim – especially for a +/-$600 PDA.

    Judie :0/

  • dequardo September 2, 2003, 12:22 pm

    $4k per year!!??? Holy crap! Wisconsin winters look better all the time ๐Ÿ™‚ (We pay $200/year)


  • Judie September 2, 2003, 12:30 pm

    Believe me, Julie has fun rubbing in her Columbus insurance rates. ๐Ÿ™

    To go totally off topic for just a moment, I also have to pay about $2400 a year in property tax. Someone told me once that San Angelo had one of the highest property tax rates in Texas, second only to Houston. I don’t know if it is true or not, but it sure sounds right. It’s enough to make me want to move into a shed on the ranch, some days…hook up a satellite modem and I would be set. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Judie :0)

  • dequardo September 2, 2003, 12:47 pm

    Well you are ahead of me there. I’d kill for $2400/year up here:-)

  • Judie September 2, 2003, 12:56 pm

    Okay…then that makes me feel a little bit better. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Julie September 2, 2003, 2:36 pm

    Hey, I don’t rub it in that my taxes are only $600 a year ๐Ÿ˜‰ We’re all getting re-evaluated here though. They have been screwing around trying to figure out our new rates that we only had to just now pay our Spring taxes. It’s going to be bad next year when we probably will have to pay double and then a make up payment for the fall 2003 taxes. Blech!

  • Error94 September 2, 2003, 7:37 pm

    My hesitation about filing on Homeowners Insurance would be that it might contribute to raising your rates.

    Judie has an excellent point here, but I’ve recently read (I believe it was in the Dallas Morning News. If I can find the exact reference I will post it.) of a couple who had several buyers lined up to purchase their home, but they were unable to actually close. Why? Because the current owners had made “too many” claims against their homeowners insurance and the insurance companies refused to insure the new potential buyers!

    It is a sad commentary on the insurance industry, but I have to always view insurance as critical use only. House burns down, car is totaled, etc. If I lose a microwave to a kitchen fire or a rock breaks my car windshield, I would rather eat that myself. Insurance companies will use any excuse to raise your rate and/or cancel your policy, so I prefer to not give them any more ammunition.

    The couple above may have had their insurance woes aggravated by living in Texas (between bad weather and a big mold problem, insurance companies are starting to pull out of writing homeowner’s policies here), but I would be wary of using my insurance policy for anything but the most dire of situations.

    That being said, I’ve read in posts in the Garmin iQue 3600 forum on that CompUSA has a very liberal extended warranty that you can purchase no matter where you originally bought your product. I’ve never bought an extended warranty, but from what I understand for a fixed price you cover your item for 2-3 years with full replacement/refund no matter what happened to it. One fellow on the forum took in a several years old Clie with problems and they applied his full original purchase price toward a new iQue. Sounds like a great upgrade policy to me. Here’s the link to the thread:

  • flamaest September 4, 2003, 11:57 pm

    0 deductable.. sure but read the fine print.. you are almost always RED-flagged for even using the service you are paying for..

    and if you use it more than a few times a year, they will drop you like a rock..

    You have to just love the insurance companies in the USA.. all they want is your cash.. but when you need some help, they just give you the finger while they cash your checks..

    sorry Judie.. Home Insurance is for criticle and catastrophic scenarios only.. They want you to add those little $56 dollar options so you can use it and give themn a reason to drop you.

    BTW: I have insurance, but only cuz it’s a safetynet.. not in case i puke on my PDA after driking with my collage frat buddies..


  • Ben S September 5, 2003, 12:50 pm

    I hope Lauren doesn’t ever have occasion to try to make a claim for accidental damage to her handheld — a friend of mine tried this (he has a $250 deductible), and his rates increased more than the cost of a new unit. Yikes.

  • tonygoulding September 6, 2003, 3:56 pm

    Great article.
    My experience with claiming off home-owner’s insurance (which I’m going to boldly go…is not that different to renter’s insurance) is that once you make a claim, you’re damned to the firy pits of hell with nothing but a glossy photo of your Palm | C to keep you company.

    When I made a claim, my next policy rocketted up. I was told by a broker friend some time later that, well, you’re not SUPPOSED to claim. They’ll hike your policy way up.

    So do some checking in to that angle before you sit on your laurels and think you’re ok…


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