Radio Equipment Insurance… Is it necessary?
The answer is “It Depends”. There is never-ending confusion about insurance in general. When it comes to protecting ham radio equipment, there’s confusion heaped upon confusion.
All insurance is simply a method of sharing your risks of loss with others who have similar exposures. Homeowners with other homeowners; car owners share with other car owners, etc. These risks are transferred to an insurance company which acts as a clearinghouse; they accept premium and pay losses. They also write the insurance contract which spells out what is covered under various circumstances and how much they’ll pay. The cost of the insurance is proportional to the amount of risk the insurance company assumes.
Protecting your Ham Gear
Now, let’s talk about protecting your ham gear. Many people think that if they have a homeowner’s or tenant’s policy they’re covered. Well the answer is “It Depends.” The answer is yes if your equipment is at home and you have a loss like a fire or burglary. On the other hand, if you slip and pour a cup of coffee through you brand new transceiver and it take 20 minutes for the smoke to clear from the shack, the answer is no. The same goes for the mobile radio installed in you car. The typical homeowner’s and for that matter, automobile policy provide no coverage for radios installed in your car, other than the factory equipment. In other cases, the answer is maybe. Some homeowner’s policies are broad enough to cover losses to towers and antennas, but others aren’t. To verify coverage, make a list of your questions and talk to your insurance agent.
What about Deductibles?
Let’s talk about deductibles. People are always interested in the amount of their deductible. They’re always too high as far as the insurance buyer is concerned – especially when it’s time to file a claim for your $499 radio and you find out that the deductible on your homeowners policy is $500. You might ask why insurance companies don’t sell policies without deductibles. There are lots of reasons but a couple of the most prominent are that a no deductible policy would be more expensive than the average person is willing to pay and also, the cost of adjusting all the little claims would add huge amounts of overhead to the insurance company, which would get passed along to you, the insurance buyer. More about deductibles below…
Homeowners Insurance vs Ham Equipment Policy
If you think that your present insurance may not be meeting your needs, consider a specific Ham Equipment policy. The policy is designed to fill in the gaps left by homeowner’s and automobile policies. Coverage is provided on an “All Risks” basis which means that virtually any physical loss or damage that your equipment may suffer is covered, unless it is specifically excluded. It covers your equipment wherever it may be – at Field Day, installed in your car, in a canoe, anywhere! Also, a specific Radio Equipment policy will most likely have a much lower deductible than you homeowner’s. Homeowners’ policies have at least a $100 deductible, most have a $500 deductible. Ham Equipment policies typically have a $50 deductible. It may be worth buying the Radio Equipment policy just to cover the potential difference in deductibles. Finally, the HRIA amateur radio equipment program can extend coverage to include Mechanical Breakdown and protection for Towers and Antennas. Mechanical break down coverage is just not available from the ARRL or any other ham radio insurance program.