This question has often come up by my patients when they are about to purchase a new pair of hearing aids. I usually just say to them to make sure to place their new hearing aids under their house & contents insurance. As you will see, this may not be enough. What if the loss, damage or theft occurs outside of the house? What if the owner lives in a Nursing Home? This article will try and answer these questions and more.
Hearing aids, being a tiny device, are easily lost or damaged. Being expensive devices, they can also be a target for theft. When you purchase a hearing aid, it will usually come with a 3-year manufacturer warranty which covers manufacturer defects only. It will also usually come with a 12 month loss or damage provision exercised at the full discretion of the manufacturer (more details below).
Hearing aids placed under your basic house and contents insurance can protect against damage or loss. However, if you only have the basic cover, the insurer will only replace the device if the damage or loss is due to a flood, fire, storm, theft or attempted theft AND if that device is below a certain value. To insure your hearing aids against accidental loss or damage, you will need to increase your level of contents insurance to actually cover accidental loss or damage. You would also want to increase your cover to include hearing aids as a specified content which covers more valuable items.
To insure against the loss or damage occurring outside of the home, most insurers will require you to increase your cover and specify that the hearing aids are a portable content. Usually an excess of about $100 applies. Some insurers allow this portability to be up to 120 continuous days like when you are on holiday and will even cover you if your holiday is outside Australia. This means you don’t have to double up insurance by having them covered by your travel insurance.
If contents insurance is too excessive for your needs, it might make sense to just have insurance for the accidental loss and damage of your hearing aids. There is a hearing aid insurance company in Australia that specialises in this called HearInsure. See below for a review of their services and products.
Most Common Ways to Lose or Damage Your Hearing Aids
As an Audiologist, I have seen it all when it comes to lost or damaged hearing aids. Here is a list of the most common (and even obscure) ways patients have lost or damaged their hearing aids:
Manufacturers Warranty and Loss/Damage Clause
As mentioned above, when you purchase a new hearing aid in Australia, you should receive a 3 years manufacturer warranty for any defect that may arise. Consumers have the option to increase this warranty to 4 years but additional costs apply.
Most manufacturers have a 12-month loss and damage provision. What this means is that if your new hearing aids are lost or damaged within the first 12 months of purchase, you may be able to get a new replacement device. It is important to note that there are some clauses or caveats to this provision which are:
When making a claim, most manufacturers will require an excess or replacement fee of about $500 when the device is from a higher level technology above their basic range. Although $500 is a lot of money, it is significantly less than what a good hearing aid would cost.
What Contents Insurance Should I Get for my Hearing Aids?
As one navigates the world of insurance, it can be quite daunting and difficult to know what your insurance actually covers. Not having the appropriate level of cover can lead to disappointment and result in the item that was lost, damaged or stolen not being replaced. For a device like hearing aids that can be quite valuable, this can be a most unfortunate predicament.
Below we explore what the basic level of contents insurance covers and what it doesn’t cover. We then look at what upgrades are required to ensure the most appropriate level of cover.
Standard Contents Insurance Cover
Most Insurance companies with replace a device new for old when it has been damaged, lost or stolen but only under specific situations
What it does cover
What it does not cover
What to include with your upgraded Contents Insurance
The first thing you will want to do if you want to insure your hearing aids is to allocate them as specified contents. Specified contents give you the option to list high value items for a nominated amount, higher than that offered under the standard contents cover.
Since most patients will wear their hearing aids outside the home which should be encourage for maximum benefit, you will want to increase your cover by including them under portable contents. This may also be called ‘personal valuables cover’. This ensures that if they are lost, damaged or stolen outside of the home, you will be covered. Portable contents also usually covers loss, damage or theft outside of Australia like when you are on holiday for up to 90 to 120 continuous days at a time. Always check the fine print to make sure this is case as every insurance company is different some may only cover portable contents in Australia and New Zealand. If your insurance doesn’t cover your hearing aids outside Australia or New Zealand, you may want to shop around for better insurance or include hearing aids on your travel insurance.
Lastly, make sure you are covered for accidental loss or damage as this is usually and extra add-on or only reserved for premium policies and can mean the difference between being covered or not. Most loss or damage is accidental so just make sure this is included.
How much does contents insurance cost?
The cost of contents insurance is based on the following variables:
It is quite easy these days to get quotes online for your insurance and companies usually offer discounts for policies purchased over the internet. Below are company quotes (as of 25th March 2019) for contents cover that includes $8000 hearing aids as specified and portable contents. I have assumed house contents are accumulatively valued at $32,000 and that the owner is happy to pay a $500 excess.
Even when keeping the variables the same across each quote, there is a huge difference in price. I would suspect this depends on whether there is accidental cover and the degree of content portability. As always, read the product disclosure statement carefully before purchasing any policy and if you are unsure about anything, it might be good to have an insurance broker help you navigate your options.
What if I live in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Arrangement?
When moving into a nursing home or assisted living care, the number of items that you bring with you is usually significantly less than what you actually own. Nevertheless, those few items will often carry special sentimental as well as monetary value. Contents insurance that understands this specific situation is important so that you only pay for what you need. Currently, APIA is the only company that offers contents insurance for people living in a nursing home and will cover up to $1000 per item for contents that you own and is kept in your residence. This includes medical equipment like hearing aids. If your hearing aids are worth at least $2000 per device, it is probably worth listing them as a specified item especially if they will be used outside the nursing home.
Do I have to worry about insuring my hearing aids if I’m a Pensioner?
As a pensioner living in Australia with a hearing loss, you are entitled to subsidised hearing services as provided for by the Australian Government’s Hearing Services Program. You have the option of either using this funding to receive fully subsidized or FREE hearing aids or to pay a gap payment for more sophisticated hearing aids. If you choose the later, the gap payment per hearing aid could be around $700 to around $4000 depending on the technology. Whenever you spend money towards hearing aids, I would always encourage you to think carefully about placing them under your contents insurance.
Lost or damaged hearing aids under this scheme can be replaced for $30 when the device was fully subsidised to begin with. When replacing a device that you paid a gap payment for, the $30 fee is waivered if your replacement device is the same level of technology. You are still required to pay the gap payment which is why having insurance helps. You also have the option to replace the lost or damage device with a FREE or fully subsidised option.
In either case, a statutory declaration or damage beyond repair letter from the manufacturer is required.
Also related: How often can I get FREE hearing aids in Australia
Should I just get insurance for my hearing aids? HearInsure Review
For some people, it makes sense to just get contents insurance for their hearing aids only. An insurance company in Australia that specialises in this is call HearInsure. They have 2 types of cover: Total Cover and Total Cover + Travel.
Total Cover + Travel
With a fast and easy application process, 5 business day claim approval process and low excess, HearInsure intends to make the whole claiming process quick, simple and seamless. There products seem to be all encompassing although there are no product disclosure statements on their website. Likewise, it is not easy to see how much their premiums cost or obtain a quick online quotes.
If you are interested in more information about HearInsure, visit their website here.
As you can see, there are a lot of options available to patients wanting piece of mind when purchasing hearing aids. From my research it would appear that contents insurance is important to have but with the right inclusions: accidental, portability and specified item. This cover is not as important within the first 12 months of purchasing your device as you are usually able to obtain a replacement one from the manufacturer. However, if you travel a lot especially outside of Australia, either including your hearing aids as part of your travel insurance or having the appropriate cover from your contents insurance is a must.
If you would like more information about hearing aid insurance, please feel free to contact us on (08) 6336 7170 or fill out the form below. We can at least point you in the right direction.
Michael is a very thorough and experienced Audiologist who takes pride in ensuring his patients are listened to, valued, respected and achieve the best results possible. He has worked as a Senior Audiologist seeing a broad case load from young infants right up to complex adults who require more specialised audiological care and management. Apart from Audiology, Michael has a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from The University of Melbourne. When you see Michael for a consultation, you will wonder why you never saw him sooner.