Blaptops.com offers these tips for how to protect yourself if you are required to check your laptop.
In addition to their tips, there are special padded slipcases, as suggested by Roadgladiator.com.
But in the end, remember that the Montreal Convention, which replaced the earlier Warsaw convention, limits the liability of airlines for damaged luggage. Also, airlines will not cover the cost of valuables such as laptops and jewelry and up until now has advised against puttiing them in your checked luggage.
Airlines are supposed to offer options for increased liability coverage for your luggage. Even if their conditions of carriage mention this, it is not a clearly advertised option. Please check with your carrier.
Should you purchase travel insurance, bear in mind that they will not cover this either, even if you are insured for baggage loss. As one travel insurance industry executive commented…if electronics and other valuables are banned from carry-on luggage, then the travel insurance companies will likely look into the possibility of providing coverage due to the demand. However, with the depreciation common in electronics, travel insurers have traditionally shied away from this sort of thing.
In the meantime…at least so far, our laptops are with us, and safe. We do recommend, however, that even while carrying your laptop with you at all times, that you take the necessary security precautions. In addition to encryption, password-protection, and backups, consider a security tag from a company like STOP. A large security plate may not save your laptop from theft, but it certainly limits its resale and aids in its retrieval. They are sold individually through their website and their staff is fairly reliable.