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WBS laptops - what happens if they are stolen?

Protection of data

The two critical issues in the case of the theft/loss of computing equipment are:

  1. Is your work safe?
  2. Could the theft compromise the personal data of you or others (e.g. by giving access to students' information).

To minimise these risks ensure your work is backed up and that you are not carrying files that contain personal data unless absolutely necessary. If unavoidable, then contact the Helpdesk for advice on encryption or alternative modes of access.

Insurance cover

WBS laptops are not covered under the University's insurance policies if stolen in the UK. The excess on that policy is over GBP100,000 making any claim meaningless. The insurance policy is intended to provide cover for major events such as building fires, not the theft of individual items. It would be possible to purchase insurance on each device but it is not cost effective given the small numbers of devices stolen.

Some unfortunate members of staff who have had laptops stolen have been able to claim the costs back under their home/contents policies. We recommend that all laptop users check in advance whether they would be covered in the case of a theft. Some companies may agree to cover the item while others may require a small extra premium. Please note, legally the University cannot pay this because it is not registered with the FSA.

For overseas travel University equipment is covered to a maximum of GBP2000 with no excess.


Division of costs in case of a theft

Should a laptop be stolen we would attempt to ascertain whether the user took all reasonable steps to protect the equipment. A pragmatic judgement would then be taken within ISSU as to whether we (i.e. the school) should bear the cost or whether the group should bear the full or partial cost. Any dispute would be referred to the Deputy Dean (Finance) as he oversees our budget.


Advice on minimising the risk of loss / theft

  • Exercise maximum precaution in highly insecure (any public) environment – do not flaunt the laptop, leave it unattended, or ask others to look after it for you
  • When in your car keep the laptop – properly packaged – in a secured part of the car (near you with any adjacent window closed and any adjacent door locked, or in a locked boot). Be aware of ‘traffic-light thefts’!
  • Never leave a laptop in a parked car if this can possibly be avoided
  • When at public meetings, conferences or hotels always use facilities for secure storage – and insist they are provided
  • When staying in a private house (your own or your friends’) always keep a laptop in the most secure place – preferably in a room with you
  • If you are going to be in an insecure environment (private house/no secure storage facilities) and you don’t need your laptop, consider temporary storage in, for example, an airport locker.

What about if the laptop is damaged?

WBS laptops are generally covered for accidental damage for a period of 3 years. Contact the Helpdesk in case of damage.