Phone insurance and extended protection plans aren't cheap, but the investment can save you big down the line should your phone get lost, stolen or damaged. Take the iPhone 6s. While you may be able to get it for $0 down, a replacement will cost you $549 out of pocket and even a small drop can leave you with a cracked display that can cost hundreds to fix.
Fortunately, protection plan options are plentiful, but picking the right one can be complicated. Extended warranty plans only cover repairs when there's a mechanical failure, not loss, theft or accidental damage. Other plans will cover accidental and mechanical failures but not loss or theft. And, different types of coverage come at varying price points.
So which is the right plan for you? If you, or your child, is forgetful or accident prone, a full coverage plan may be best. Or, you may have enough coverage from your credit card company or home owner's insurance. Check out the following plans to see what's right for you.
Many large electronics retailers offer phone insurance. Best Buy, for example, will insure an iPhone 6s for two years for $7.99 a month. That covers malfunctions as well as accidental damage to the phone, but not loss or theft. For loss and theft you can step up to a $10.99 plan.
There’s a $149.99 (for phones valued under $799.99 otherwise $199.99) deductible for claims that are not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty and you have to buy the Geek Squad protection with the product online or within 15 days of buying your phone in-store. And for loss or theft, the deductible is $199.99 (or phones valued under $799.99 otherwise $249.99) There’s a limit of 3 claim submissions for regular claims, or 2 claims if due to loss or theft.
For two years of coverage for mechanical and electrical failures as well as accidental damage—but not loss or theft—SquareTrade offers a warranty for any iPhone for $149 for two years. That’s a better deal compared with Best Buy, even though they nail you with a $99 deductible for every smartphone claim.
You can buy a SquareTrade warranty on a retail item within 30 days of buying it or if the phone is currently insured by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile.
Worth Ave. Group
An insurance policy from Worth Ave. Group covers a cell phone for accidental damage such as drops and spills as well as theft, fire, flood, natural disasters and lightning strikes. For an iPhone 6s (with $650 coverage), you’ll spend $134 for two years with a $50 deductible.
Worth Ave Group doesn't cover Android phones.
For $8 per month, AT&T offers coverage for loss, theft, accidental damage and out-of-warranty malfunction of your phone. You'll need to purchase protection within 30 days of phone activation or upgrade to enroll. When making a claim, you'll need to pay a $50-$299 deductible (iPhones have a $225 deductible. If you go 6 months without a claim, the fee drops to $168 and if you are claim free for 12 months, the fee is $112). You can make two claims per year for a total of $1,500.
For $9-$11 per month, Sprint offers full coverage–loss, theft, accidental damage and mechanical or electrical breakdown. For mechanical or electrical failure, there is no deductible for the first two claims. A $25 fee applies after within a 12-month period. Otherwise, you'll also pay a deductible of $50-$250 (see the full list of fees and deductibles) for each claim. You can make two claims per year for a total of $1,500. Now through September 30, 2016 you can enroll regardless of when you upgraded or activated your device.
T-Mobile offers you full coverage–loss, theft, accidental damage and mechanical or electrical breakdown–for $10 a month. A non-refundable deductible of $20 to $175 (iPhones have a $175 deductible), depending on your device, is applied for each claim. You can make two claims each year with a limit of $1,500 for each loss.
Verizon bills $9-$11 for loss, theft, accidental damage and electrical or mechanical failure after the manufacturer's warranty expires ($11 for iPhones). There's a deductible of $99-$199, depending on which model iPhone you have. You can make two claims per year for a total of $1,500.
Major Credit Cards
There are two ways that credit cards can provide coverage for your phone. First, many major credit cards extended the manufacturer’s warranty by a year or longer, though it varies depending on the card. Check out Credit.com’s tutorial on the subject. Many also cover loss from theft or damage within the first 90 days after purchase.
You can also get theft and damage coverage from select cards if you use them pay for your cell phone service, including Wells Fargo and First Citizens Bank. MagnifyMoney.com has a list of more than 25 banks and credit unions offering the feature.
For larger purchases, such as premium smartphones, some insurance companies will let you attach a rider to your homeowners or renters insurance, which will specifically cover that purchase. Smartphones are usually covered in general by homeowners and renters insurance under the same conditions of your general insurance policy. You'll want to check with your provider to find out your options.
You'll also want to find out how filing claims for your smartphone, if you don't have a rider, may impact the fees you pay for your overall homeowners or renters insurance and whether repeat claims could lead to your insurance company dropping your coverage.
Pricing by Provider for an iPhone 6s
|Best Buy||Carriers||Worth Ave. Group||SquareTrade||Major Credit Cards||Homeowners Insurance||AppleCare|
|Loss||✔||✔||✔||✔ (first 90 days)||Varies|
|Theft||✔||✔||✔||✔ (first 90 days)||Varies|
|Mechanical / Electrical Defect||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|When you can purchase||Within 15 days of purchase||Varies||Anytime||Within 30 days of purchase or if the phone is currently insured by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon||Automatic at time of purchase||Within 60 days of purchase|
|Deductible||$150/$200 (regular claims), $200/$249 (loss or theft)||$200||$50||$99||$0||Varies||$129|
Cost for 2 years
||$192 ($8/month for 24 months) for regular coverage, $264 for loss/theft||$168-$264||$134||$149||$0||Varies, but starts around $40||$29 for screen damage, $99 for other repairs|
Pricing by Carrier for an iPhone 6 16GB
|Deductible||$225||$0 (for first 2 claims if it can be repaired in-store), $250||$175||$149|
Cost for 2 years
||$192 (full coverage)||$264 (full coverage)||$240||$216 (full coverage)|
Claims & coverage
||2 claims per year, total $1,500||2 claims per year, total $1,500||2 claims per year, total $1,500 per claim||2 claims per year, total $1,500|
All pricing and plan data as of 9/14/2016
[Smartphone with broken display via Shutterstock]