Why Insure Hearing Aids Against Accidental Loss or Damage

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. If you need help with this or you would like help to ensure your existing house & contents insurance provides enough cover for your hearing aids to ensure it doesn’t have exclusions that would decline a claim, please fill out the form below.

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:

  • Hearing aids were flushed down the toilet.
  • Hearing aids were left in the pocket of some clothing and put in the washing machine.
  • Hearing aids have fallen out of the ear and lost in the grass.
  • Hearing aids have fallen out of the ear and lost in the grass and mowed over.
  • Hearing aids have fallen out of the ear and driven over.
  • Hearing aids have been lost at hospital.
  • Hearing aids have been damaged when swimming, showering or bathing with them.
  • Hearing aids becoming the snack of a dog or little child.
  • Hearing aids stolen when stored in a handbag in a car.

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:

  • You are only allowed to make one claim per hearing aid in the first 12-month period. If you lose or damage your hearing aid more than once in 12 months, as an Audiologist, I would be thinking whether the hearing aid you have is the most appropriate for your needs or whether we need to change its coupling to your ear.
  • You will be required to sign a Statutory Declaration.
  • You must be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia.
  • You must provide proof of purchase. If you have lost your receipt, you should easily be able to obtain another copy from the Audiology Clinic hearing aids were purchased from.
  • This provision does not include loss and damage that occurs outside of Australia. This is where appropriate contents insurance or at least travel insurance comes to the rescue.
  • You cannot claim if your hearing aids are already covered under an alternate insurance policy.
  • You cannot claim if the hearing aids are on trial (e.g. you have not purchased them but are just trialling them first).
  • You cannot claim if the loss or damage occurs as a result of improper use or handling.  This clause is a little hard to interpret but I think it would apply to those situations where you deliberately lose or damage the device (e.g. place it in the oven).

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 will replace a device new for old when it has been damaged, lost or stolen

but only under specific situations

What it does cover

  • When the device has been lost or damaged due to attempted theft, a flood, fire or storm.
  • When the device has been stolen.

What it does not cover

  • Portable or valuable items lost or damaged outside the home.
  • Valuable items lost or damaged inside the home.

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 underportable 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.

Oh yes, just before I forget. It is also possible to have a new for old replacement clause so that even if your hearing aids are 3 years old when you lose or damage them, you would be able to get comparable replacement devices that have modern up to date technology which could actually improve you hearing performance in general.

How much does contents insurance cost?

The cost of contents insurance is based on the following variables:

  • The sum of the contents insured. A higher sum will incur a larger premium.
  • Your inclusions. If you add specified items, portable items and accidental cover, your premium will go up.
  • The excess you choose. Higher excess equals smaller premium.
  • Your residence. The age, building material and security of your home help determine the likelihood your contents will be damaged.
  • Where your home is located. This will determine the likelihood of natural disaster or theft.
  • Your claims history. If you are a seasoned claimant, expect to pay higher premiums.

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 2020) for contents cover that includes $8000 hearing aids as specified and portable contents. I have assumed house contents have an accumulative value of $32,000 and that the owner is happy to pay a $500 excess.

  • RAC – $420 per year
  • Allianz Australia – 349.74 per year (with a $600 excess)
  • AAMI – $209 per year (with $600 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.

This is where we can help. We have linked in with an insurance broker who would be more than happy to take a look at your current insurance cover and to give advice as to what inclusions you need to ensure your hearing aids are covered. They may also be able to offer you a special deal to reduce the cost of your monthly premiums as well as offer you dedicated contents insurance just for your hearing aid. If this is someone you would be interested, please fill out the form below.

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 one of the only companies 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 higher. 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.

No matter where you are in Australia, Pristine Hearing can organise a replacement set of hearing aids and set them up without you even needing to come in for a physical appointment.  We can set your replacement hearing aids up in our clinic using special equipment and make a remote telehealth appointment with you over the internet in case we need to make and adjustments. Most hearing aid manufacturers enable your Hearing Care Specialists to make adjustments to your hearing aids remotely via intuitive and easy to use smartphone apps on your iphone or android.

If you need replacement hearing aids and you would love to not have to come in physically to a clinic, please call us on 1300 774 284 so we can help.

Also related: How often can I get FREE hearing aids in Australia

Should I just get insurance for my hearing aids? 

For some people, it makes sense to just get contents insurance for their hearing aids only.  You may want to consider this if your existing possessions just aren’t worth the value to insure or if you want to reduce your monthly premium. To do this, it may be possible to take out a stand-alone general property policy that would cover the hearing aids for accidental damage, loss, theft, fire and perils Australia-wide.

Update 1/7/2020

In America, there are 2 companies that provide stand-alone policies to insure hearing aids against accidental loss or damage (e.g ESCO). Over the last few months I have actively approached various insurance brokers to see if they could help me find an insurance company in Australia that would do the same.  I thought I had made a breakthrough recently when I heard back from one insurance company. The response back was that they would only provide insurance for hearing aids that were accidentally lost or damaged within a locked setting (such as home).  They said that they had a scheme in place previously for hearing aids and it was loss making, hence the reason for the exclusions placed on the policy. 

As we all know, most hearing aids are likely to be lost or damaged outside the home so this policy would be pointless for many people.  I continued  my quest and spoke to another insurance broker whom I have dealt with quite a lot in the past and has always been very knowledgeable. His response was as follows:

Hi Michael

There is nothing outside of Home & Contents insurance that would cover such an eventuality.

Under standard Home & Contents policies, policyholders can elect to either:

1. Specify certain personal property items they may wish to cover for Accidental Loss or Damage whilst those items are temporarily removed from the home

2.Select a “blanket cover” sum insured for non-specified personal property items they may wish to cover for Accidental Loss or Damage whilst those items are temporarily removed from the home
Or, they can:
3. Effect an Accidental Damage Home & Contents policy which – depending upon the wording – will automatically cover Accidental Loss or Damage to all Contents whilst items are temporarily removed from the home for up to 180 days. Steadfast-badged Accidental Damage Home & Contents wordings do cover this eventuality as standard, but “home brand” policies (i.e.: AAMI, Youi, RAC etc.) will generally only cover Accidental Damage whilst the Contents are at home. I certainly recommend buyer-beware, because on the surface they may appear to be similar…
Hopefully this answers your question.

From all this , it would appear there are no effective stand-alone policies for hearing aids in Austalia available.

Final Words

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.

No matter where you are in Australia, Pristine Hearing can organise a replacement set of hearing aids and set them up without you even needing to come in for a physical appointment.  We are able to set-up your replacement hearing aids in our clinic using special equipment and post them to you. We can then make a remote telehealth appointment with you over the internet in case we need to make any adjustments. Most hearing aid manufacturers enable your Hearing Care Specialists to make adjustments to your hearing aids remotely via intuitive and easy to use smartphone apps on your iphone or android. 

If you need replacement hearing aids and you would love to not have to come in physically to a clinic, please call us on 1300 774 284 so we can help. If you would like more information about esnuring you have enough cover for your hearing aids on your existing house & contents insurance or would like some help with obtaining a new policy with the proper coverage please fill out the form below.