Hardware

Is your laptop insured?

Your laptop is in danger of being lost or stolen every time you turn around. Are you prepared for the cost and aggravation of replacing your equipment and data? Perhaps it's time to look into laptop insurance.


Most consultants break into a cold sweat at the very thought of their trusty laptop being lost or stolen. Perhaps this has already happened to you, and you’ve gone through the process of reconstructing data and wondering what effect this tremendous security breach will have on your firm. If you’re still pretending it can’t happen to you, here’s a golden opportunity to face your fears. We’ve put together a collection of links to companies that provide laptop insurance and security services.

A growing trend
Safeware Inc., a member of Assurant Group, is the largest insurer of personal computers in the United States. In 1999, its claims by notebook owners accounted for 88 percent of total claims. And as if the theft of the equipment itself isn’t troublesome enough, a growing number of IT professionals now worry about the possibility of the stolen laptop’s data falling into the wrong hands.

“My computer had lots of great data for criminals,” said T.J. McCue in a recent Wall Street Journal article. (McCue is the cofounder of AdventureBase.com and had his laptop stolen out of a car in broad daylight while he was eating sushi in a nearby restaurant.) “I didn’t need to worry about the random thief who broke into my car. My concern was about the people the computer was probably sold to. Any good hacker knows how to dig for data.”

The New York Times recently reported that organized rings of thieves are stealing a rising number of laptop computers and “having a prolonged field day in airports, hotels, and other places frequented by business travelers.”

In an informal TechRepublic poll, 64% of respondents reported that a company laptop had disappeared or been stolen, with 88% of those respondents reporting that the laptop had not been recovered.

TechRepublic poll results

We’d like to share a list of our readers' “top ten” laptop insurance and/or security companies. E-mail us your favorite—and tell us why it’s the best.
Laptop security: To catch a thief
While insuring your laptop may ease the sting of the lost property and data, catching the thief and recovering your equipment would be even better. If you’re the James Bond type, you might consider some of the crafty security devices that use global positioning technology to catch thieves red-handed.
  • CompuTrace Theft Recovery provides a thin client application, CompuTrace Tracking Agent, which uses an IP or phone connection to automatically contact the CompuTrace monitoring center. It transmits the PC status information, including its IP address, phone number, and electronic serial number on an ongoing basis. When the computer is reported stolen, the application is automatically instructed to increase its call frequency to the monitoring center. The data helps the recovery team, who works with the appropriate law enforcement agencies, to track, locate, and retrieve the laptop.
  • Stealth Signal is a laptop/notebook security system that equips your laptop with a software-based transmitter that sends homing signals to a monitoring network. The signals are transmitted at random times over any Internet connection or phone line. Stealth Signal's worldwide service operates 24/7, and tracking records can be accessed via the Web site. You can also download a free 15-day trial on the site. Stealth Signal boasts that its transmitter is undetectable, and that your chances of recovering a lost or stolen laptop increase to 90 percent if it’s equipped with their transmitter.

Rates for Stealth Signal services


Insure your laptop online
The following companies offer insurance especially for laptops, as well as other computer equipment. For further information or to get an individual quote, visit the company’s Web site.

SafeWare, The Insurance Agency, Inc. provides computer insurance for home, schools, students, employers, and businesses. The company insures laptops, desktops, and notebooks for losses from theft, power surges, fire, accidental damage, and natural disasters.

For the most comprehensive policy offered—designed for notebook computers moved more than twice a week—annual premiums start at $49 for desktops and $69 for notebooks. The policy may also be applied to PDAs, desktop computers, peripherals, and digital cameras. (Note: Policies are not available for residents of Alabama, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.)

DataSecurity.com provides insurance that covers your equipment against theft, loss, or accidental damage; accidental erasure or loss of data; damage caused by external electrical problems; and dishonest acts, fraud, or misuse. The Web site also promises that you will be reimbursed for any costs incurred “while your computers are being replaced or repaired as a result of a covered loss.”

Data Security insurance rates


Complete Computer Cover offers insurance protection against material loss and damage for United Kingdom residents only. The premium to cover £1000 worth of equipment for one yearis £50.00.
Do you rely on good fortune, or have you insured your laptop in some way? Have you used any of the companies listed above? Write us and tell us about your experiences or post your comments below.

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