March 11, 1997 10:45 AM ET

Damages to laptops on the rise, according to insurer
By Robert Lemos

  A modified boot-camp mentality may be needed to protect laptop computers from the harsh realities of the front lines of business. So says a report by a leading computer insurer, which finds that damages to laptops accounted for over half of an estimated $2.3 billion in computer losses in 1996.

According to the report, which was produced by Safeware, The Insurance Agency Inc., laptops and notebook computers are 10 times more likely to be damaged in daily use than desktop models. Claims for accidental damages to laptops at the insurance company increased by 45 percent in 1996 compared with the previous year. The company estimated that a total of 345,000 laptops were damaged in 1996.

The Columbus, Ohio, company attributes the increase in damages to greater use and users' perceptions of the computers as a tool. "Originally, laptop users were technology buffs," explained Safeware CEO Dave Johnston, "so they really cared for the computers." Now, with computers assigned to users who do not always appreciate them, theft and accidents are bound to increase. "Familiarity breeds contempt," Johnston said.

The study also found that laptops were seven times more likely to be stolen than desktops. The insurer estimated that about 265,000 laptops were stolen last year, an increase of 27 percent over the previous year.

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