When does homeowners insurance cover TV damage?

The good news is that homeowners insurance covers quite a few things that can happen to your TV up to your policy's coverage limits, including:

  • Lightning
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Fire
  • Storm damage
  • Water damage in certain situations, such as a burst pipe

It’s important to note that flood damage is never covered by a home insurance policy.

"For home insurance, what damage is covered with TVs -- it really just depends," says Earl Jones, owner of Earl L. Jones Insurance Agency in Sunnyvale, California. "If the homeowner has a standard home insurance policy that includes coverage for personal items, then the TV is covered under the personal item coverage."

When is TV damage not covered by homeowners insurance?

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover all types of damage. In general, accidental damage isn’t covered, and neither is intentional damage. So, if your child throws a toy at the TV or you knock it over, there is no coverage.

Other types of TV damage that aren’t covered include:

  • Flooding. A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover anything in your home in the event of a flood.
  • The TV falls off the wall or the entertainment center. Home insurance doesn’t cover accidental damage. If an earthquake causes the fall, you will need to have earthquake insurance to be covered.
  • You drop the TV. Again, this type of accidental damage isn’t covered.

“If the TV was damaged or destroyed due to the homeowner's fault, or a pet, or children, or a guest, then it probably isn't covered,” Jones says

How much will home insurance pay for a damaged TV?

How much a home insurance company will give you depends on your coverage.

"Now, here is where things get tricky," Jones says. "The coverage of the TV may not be paid at today's market value. Some homeowners and renters insurance policies only pay for personal items at a depreciated rate -- the actual cash value."

An actual cash value policy will pay the replacement cost of the TV, minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy will pay what a similar TV costs to buy brand new. Here’s how it works:

You paid $2,000 for your TV five years ago. It has depreciated by $1,500. The replacement cost today for a similar TV is $2,500.

A replacement cost policy will pay $2,500 for your TV. An actual cash value policy will pay $1,000 ($2,500 - $1,500 = $1,000). In both cases, your deductible will be subtracted from the claim payout amount. If you have a $1,000 deductible, a replacement cost policy will pay $1,500 while actual cash value will pay nothing.

You can upgrade your coverage to replacement cost, but that has to be done before the loss occurs.

How to file an insurance claim for a damaged TV

The steps to filing home insurance for TV damage are pretty straightforward. The first thing to determine is whether it’s worth filing. If the TV is the only thing damaged, consider the examples above to decide if the value of the TV makes it worthwhile to file.

If more than just the TV is damaged, for example in a storm that causes a tree to go through the roof, it’s likely worthwhile. The best way to file a claim for your TV is to take the following steps:

  • Mitigate any further damage by making temporary repairs, such as blocking a hole in the roof with a tarp.
  • Contact your insurance company and report the damage.
  • Take photos of all of the damage before you clean anything up.

If the damage is the result of a crime, such as a break-in, you will also need to file a police report.

Home insurance FAQs

Does home insurance cover lightning damage to electronics?

Yes, homeowners insurance generally covers lightning damage.

Can you buy insurance for a TV to cover accidental damage?

You can often purchase TV insurance for accidental damage, but the cost of such protection plans may not be worthwhile. These policies are usually sold when you purchase your TV.

Does insurance cover a cracked screen?

Any damage to your TV, including the screen, is covered if it’s caused by a covered peril. However, the repair bill may not be high enough to warrant filing a claim.