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Home insurance typically covers damage to TVs if the cause was by a covered peril, such as a fire, lightning and vandalism.

TVs can be damaged in various ways, but whether your homeowners insurance policy covers it depends on the reason for the damage.

What TV damage is covered and what isn’t? How do you file a TV-related claim? Here's what you need to know if you have TV damage.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • Homeowners insurance typically covers a broken TV under the personal property coverage portion if a covered peril damaged the TV. A policy may or may not cover damage caused by a storm, water or a power surge.
  • Home insurance policies don’t generally cover flood damage. Instead, you need a separate flood insurance policy.
  • Homeowners insurance also likely won’t cover you if you drop the TV or it falls off the wall.
  • A home insurance policy will reimburse you for the TV depending on whether you have actual cash value or replacement value coverage.

When does homeowners insurance cover broken TVs?

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

  • Lightning
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Fire
  • Storm damage in general, such as a tree crashing through your home and taking out the TV, among other things
  • Water damage from something like a leaky roof -- as long as the problem isn’t an issue that developed over time
  • Power surge? Maybe. Did you cause it or did something else? You will want to check out your policy.

In fact, the words "check out your policy" should be your mantra when it comes to TV damage -- or any loss in your house.

"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 are broken TVs not covered by homeowners insurance?

The bad news is that your homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover all types of damage under the personal property portion. For instance, an insurance policy will likely cover you if someone breaks into your home and smashes your TV and damages or steals your personal belongings.

However, if your child vandalizes it by drawing pictures on it, home insurance doesn’t usually cover that.

Other types of TV damage where you probably aren't covered include:

Flooding

If you have flood insurance, you can probably put your TV on a claim. But with a regular homeowners insurance policy, a TV being carried off in a flood won’t be covered.

Your TV falls off the wall

Your insurance company will say that you should have made sure it was fastened to the wall more securely. They won't pay to replace that.

Your TV falls off the entertainment center

The insurance carrier will likely not cover it. Although if you have earthquake insurance, and that's why the TV falls off, or vandals pulled it off the entertainment center, that's probably another story.

You drop the TV

Maybe you're moving it from one room to another or into a new home. Your insurance company won't cover that accidental damage.

The general rule, Jones says, is that "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.”

How much does home insurance pay for damaged TVs?

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."

Other policies, Jones says, will pay for current market rates, which means the amount of money it will cost to replace your TV. That’s called replacement value.

That matters, given inflation and the age of your TV. It's going to be a bummer to get $150 for a ruined TV that may have cost you $1,000 when you bought it several years ago. In any case, check the fine print of your policy. It might not be a bad idea to read through it, even if you don't have TV damage. Maybe you'll realize that you don't have that great coverage and need to find a better homeowners insurance policy.

And Jones says that whatever your homeowners insurance covers -- the actual cash value or today's market value -- you're still going to need to pay your policy's deductible first when you file an insurance claim.

Best way to claim for TV on insurance

The steps to filing home insurance for TV damage are pretty straightforward. Still, if you've just had a storm or theft or something really bad happen, you're rattled -- and may appreciate having the steps laid out. So here we go.

Make sure everybody is safe

That is, if your home is flooded, or a tree lands in your living room, or you were burglarized, well… do the things you should do. Get out of the house if it's unsafe to be there. Call the police if you need to, and you should file a report if a crime was committed, such as having a TV stolen. Calling your insurer is important after your home is damaged, invaded or threatened in some way, but it's not the first thing one should do. Making sure you are OK is obviously the first.

Take photos

When it's clear you’re safe, and if you've gotten the police involved, photos can be useful for insurance companies when determining what went wrong. You could contact your insurance company before this step, but the idea is to get photographic proof of what happened right away before anybody starts cleaning up the mess.

Contact your insurance company

Don't put this off for long. The faster you call, the faster you get compensated for whatever financial losses you have.

Make any vital repairs

If you have a hole in your roof, you can plug the hole, so there’s not more damage, but don’t begin to make major repairs. Your insurer will tell you what to do, and if you're not clear, you can check the policy. Generally, insurers want you to do whatever reasonable steps you can take to ensure that your home doesn't suffer any further damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does home insurance cover lightning damages to electronics?

Yes, homeowners insurance generally covers lighting damage.

That said, for all this talk about TV damage with lightning strikes or TV damage, it often isn't worth filing an insurance claim.

"Although lightning damage is generally covered under your homeowners policy, if the only thing you are claiming is your TV, it's generally a bad idea [to file a claim]," says Alan Himmel, a licensed public adjuster and founder of Florida Allstar Public Adjusting, Inc.

Himmel adds that if the only claim is for TV damage, make sure the TV is substantially worth more than you’ll pay for the deductible when you file a claim. If it’s not much more, filing a claim is likely not worth it, Himmel says.

"You probably would see no payment at all from your insurance company and at best, you may receive a very small check and not enough to replace the TV,” says Himmel.

If the TV is one of many items that need replacement and repair, Himmel says filing a claim can be worthwhile.

"In the case of a big disaster such as an earthquake, fire, or hurricane, where the whole house is damaged, yes, you can include all personal items along with your TV, and it will be paid for under the contents portion of your homeowner's insurance policy. Since the claim is much bigger, the deductible probably will not be of much consequence,” Himmel says.

Does a renters insurance policy cover a TV falling off a wall?

Whether renters insurance covers a broken TV depends on the situation.

If it falls because you or a delivery person didn't install it correctly, alas, no, you almost certainly not be covered (but, again, check your policy).

If there was a car that crashed into your apartment building, and the building shook, and your TV fell off the wall, and smashed onto the floor, renters coverage should approve the claim. If a burglar broke into your home, and it's clear that the thief's shenanigans led to the TV falling off the wall, then, yes, renters insurance will cover it.

Basically, if there's a whiff that it was partially your fault -- maybe you didn't put the TV on the wall, but you could have hired a handyman to do it -- you aren't going to be covered. If there's some crazy thing that nobody could have predicted would happen, like a wild deer got into the apartment building and found its way into your apartment, then, yes, you should be covered.

Can you buy extra insurance for an expensive TV?

Yes, you can buy more coverage, but the question is does that make sense.

You should ask yourself how much it'll set you back if that expensive TV were to be ruined. Before you go and buy an insurance rider, you should study your own current policy. If you need more coverage, you could shop around for a different policy or talk to your agent about adding a rider.

So much of this type of decision, though, often goes beyond covering one item, like an expensive TV. If you own one expensive TV, but don’t have many other valuables, you shouldn't buy extra insurance for an expensive TV. Maybe put extra money in a bank account every month, so you'll have something saved up if something happens to the TV.

But if you have a really expensive TV and other pricey possessions like jewelry and antiques, you may want to consider extra insurance coverage.

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