Damage to the smartphone in private liability insurance

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Damaged smartphone? Who covers the cost?

Modern smartphones have a huge range of features and everyday life would be hard to imagine without them. If damage is caused to such a device, property insurance is the first option. In order to choose the right insurance, it is first of all necessary to determine who caused the damage and who owns the object, in this case, a smartphone. In the case of damage to a smartphone, different types of insurance are possible, namely household contents insurance, special electronics insurance for the smartphone or liability insurance.

Contents insurance covers damage to your own smartphone if it is destroyed or lost due to the insured risks of fire, storm, hail, tap water or burglary. You will receive the replacement value from your household insurance. Special electronics insurance for your smartphone regulates damage to your smartphone, for example, if it is damaged in an accident or lost through theft. As there are many different providers, you should read the exact terms and conditions before taking out coverage. There are major differences, for example, regarding reimbursement in the event of total loss / theft (reimbursement at current value or replacement value), but also in agreed deductibles.    

Liability insurance, on the other hand, covers the settlement of damage caused to property belonging to a third party, such as a neighbour.

Definition of liability insurance - damage to a smartphone

Property damage or personal injury caused by you or a co-insured person to the smartphone of a third person is regulated by private liability insurance. Depending on the damage, this covers the costs of repairing the device or replacing it (but not more than the current value of the device) in the following cases, among others:

  • Display and breakage damage
  • Damage caused by water or other liquids

As a matter of principle, private liability insurance will not settle claims that have been deliberately inflicted on a third party.

Why is private liability insurance useful for me if I accidentally break someone else's smartphone?

§ 823 of the German Civil Code (BGB) provides that, among other things, everyone is obliged to pay damages if he or she intentionally or negligently violates the property of another person. This means that you are also liable for damage to a smartphone that you caused accidentally. If it is a new, high-quality device, the financial burden of repair or replacement can quickly reach high multi-digit figures.

Compensation

Anyone who damages the property of a third party or makes it unusable is obliged to pay damages in Germany. In the case of a damaged smartphone, this can be paid in various ways:

  • Replacement of the defective or lost smartphone by procurement of an equivalent device
  • Payment of repair costs
  • Monetary compensation

Private liability insurance covers claims for damages and protects you from excessive expenses. However, the insurance coverage only applies if you did not cause the damage intentionally. You have good prospects for claims settlement through liability insurance in the following situation, for example:

You accidentally knocked over your cup and coffee got spilled on your friend's mobile phone.

Which damages and losses are covered by my personal liability insurance and which are not?


According to German law, liability always exists if someone causes damage to one or more other persons. In order to be able to meet this obligation without major financial losses in the private sphere, it is advisable to take out a private liability insurance policy. This offers protection against claims for damages. 

Depending on the tariff, Coya's private liability insurance not only covers damages that you have caused, but also covers damages caused by your spouse, your partner in a registered partnership or your co-insured children. In addition, Coya will settle liability claims even if they have been caused by small animals.

Insured animals

As a rule, only liability claims arising from the keeping of tame pets, such as cats, ornamental birds and rodents, are covered by private liability insurance. Damage caused by larger pets such as dogs and horses, or wild animals such as snakes and spiders, is not covered by private liability insurance. However, an exception to this rule exists if the policyholder is held liable as the guardian of other people's dogs or horses. 

Liability insurance only regulates claims for damages under certain conditions, including among other things, that it does not cover damage to your own mobile phone. Also, manufacturing errors that lead to a defect in the device are not a case for liability. In this case, the manufacturer under a voluntary warranty, or your dealer under a statutory warranty, is responsible for repairing the device under certain circumstances.

Damage to the smartphone of third parties covered by liability insurance

  • Culpable damage to the smartphone of third parties due to: 
  • Damage caused without intent
  • Display and breakage damage
  • Damage caused by liquids such as water, coffee, lemonade or beer
  • Loss by theft

Damage to the smartphone of third parties not covered by liability insurance

  • Damage caused intentionally
  • Damage caused by the smartphone owner himself
  • Loss through burglary or robbery
  • Damage caused by vandalism or fire
  • Damage due to design flaws

Before an insurance company settles a claim on a smartphone, it is carefully examined. In addition, the current value is used to settle the claim.

How do I determine the current value of my smartphone?

The current market value of a smartphone is not only calculated according to the age of the device. New technical developments, improved successor models and everyday wear and tear also reduce the value of a device considerably. As a rule of thumb, a smartphone is only worth 40 percent of the manufacturer's original recommended retail price after just one year of use. After two years, it is even less than 30 percent. 

If you want to calculate the current value of your phone for liability insurance yourself, you have several options:

  • Comparison with the same or similar models on a used goods exchange or auction platform
  • Determine value online, for example on websites of mobile phone buyers
  • Calculate depreciation

What does depreciation mean?

Most consumer goods are subject to depreciation, which can have various reasons. The Federal Ministry of Finance has drawn up a depreciation table for the valuation of fixed assets for tax purposes, which limits the useful life of a mobile phone to five years. This means that the value for the liability loss of a smartphone can no longer be set very high if it is more than five years old.

What benefits does your private liability insurance offer you if you break someone else's smartphone?

If you cause damage to someone else's smartphone, this will be covered by your private liability insurance. Before taking out private liability insurance, it is worth taking a look at its benefits. Coya private liability insurance generally provides the following:

  • Examination of the liability claims
  • Defence against unjustifiable claims 

Assumption of the costs incurred in settling the claim, in particular replacing or repairing the equipment.

What additional services are available?

You can extend and improve your basic insurance coverage with Coya by choosing from a variety of components.

The "Top of the Topps" component is likely to be interesting in relation to damage caused to smartphones. If you selected this when you signed the contract, it will settle claims caused by persons who are incapable of committing torts and therefore usually cannot be held liable. If required, you can also select the "Best Performance Guarantee" component. 

Who is incapable of tort?

Paragraph 828 of the German Civil Code (BGB) stipulates that children are not responsible for damage to the property of others as long as they have not reached the age of seven. In addition, the legislator concedes that persons under the age of 18 are incapable of tort if they are unaware of the consequences of their actions, for example due to an intellectual disability. However, liability exists if the parents have demonstrably violated their duty of supervision and the damage could otherwise have been avoided.

Are mobile phone covers also insured?

Liability insurance covers the settlement of damages caused by the policyholder to the property of another person. This means that damage to the mobile phone cover is also insured. However, as this is often very cheap, it will not usually be worthwhile having the insurance company settle the claim. If you have chosen a tariff with a deductible, the costs for a new mobile phone cover will probably be within the deductible amount anyway.

Does my private liability insurance also cover damages to my smartphone abroad?

Coya's terms and conditions for private liability insurance provide that damages will be settled even if they are caused abroad. However, this is only the case if your stay abroad is temporary, for example during a holiday. This means that your residence must remain in the country. If you move abroad permanently, the insurance cover expires.

Is a deductible useful for me?

An excess or deductible with an insurance company usually reduces the monthly or annual insurance premium to be paid. This is the amount you have to pay yourself to settle the claim before the insurance company covers it. How high the excess is depends on your individual contract

Does my liability insurance also cover damage to my smartphone?

Liability insurance only covers damage for which the policyholder is liable. This is always the case if the damage was caused to another person. Defects to your own device caused by an accident or its loss are not covered by your private liability insurance. In such cases, it is advisable to take out electronics insurance for your smartphone. 

Is it worth taking out extra mobile phone insurance?

Mobile phone insurance can be worthwhile if it is a very expensive smartphone that is less than six months old. Depending on the conditions, it will then cover damage to your own mobile phone caused by accidents, vandalism, operating errors, overvoltage and fire, for example. 

For cheaper or older devices, it is usually not advisable to take out this insurance, as the value of electronics decreases quite rapidly due to regular new developments by the manufacturers and generally only the current value is taken into account. You should also note that mobile phone insurance only covers damage to your own mobile phone, not to another person's smartphone that has been damaged through your actions. In addition, there are often various exclusions that limit the insurance cover.

What cases does my home contents insurance cover?

Damage to your own mobile phone is not covered by your liability insurance. Your home contents insurance covers all items that belong to your household. Electronic devices such as computers and smartphones are also covered. Your homeowner's insurance will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your smartphone, for example, if it has been damaged or lost as a result of the following events:

  • Burglary - your flat or house has been broken into and your smartphone stolen.
  • Vandalism in the course of a burglary - your flat or house has been broken into and your smartphone was destroyed by the burglar.
  • Fire - a fire or lightning strike has rendered your phone unusable.
  • Tap water: your smartphone got wet when a pipe burst and does not work anymore.

As a rule, your smartphone is also insured under the outdoor insurance policy if damage occurs outside your own four walls, for example, on holiday or in the garden. Often, the external insurance even covers the risk of someone trying to steal your smartphone under threat of violence while you are on the road.

Home contents insurance not only covers damage to the policyholder's smartphone, but usually the devices of all people in the household, such as spouse, life partner and children. This also applies if the children are staying outside their parents' home for a limited period of time due to education. However, the insurance cover for the children ends when education is completed.

Which smartphones are included in the home contents insurance?

Household contents insurance covers damage caused by the insured risks to all objects belonging to the insured or co-insured parties. This means that several smartphones can be insured under home contents insurance. 

Also within the scope of private liability insurance, it can happen that several smartphones are damaged by one loss event. For example, the following scenarios are conceivable here:

  • Several smartphones are lying on a table and suffer liquid damage after you accidentally knock over a cup of coffee.
  • During the New Year's Eve fireworks display, you startled several people with your firecracker, who then dropped their smartphones.
  • You fell in a shop and knocked over a counter with several smartphones, which broke the displays when they fell.

This means that you are not only liable to one person, but may be liable to several.

What is the regulation for a broken or lost smartphone?

In the first step, the liability insurance company will check whether you can be held legally liable for the damage caused. If it is determined that you are liable for the damage, the insurer will take care of compensating the third party. Compensation can be made, for example, by paying the costs of repair or, in the event of a total loss, by reimbursing the current value.

Firstly, the home contents insurance company checks whether the appliance is covered by the contract and whether an insured risk has occurred (fire, storm, hail, tap water or burglary).

If it is determined that the damage is insured, your home contents insurance company will pay you the value of the destroyed or lost item. If the smartphone can still be repaired, the repair costs will be covered.

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