Picking a Cellphone Insurance Plan
Chances are, you’ve damaged your cellphone and been stuck with a hefty bill to repair or replace it.
Whether it’s dropping it and cracking the screen, spilling a drink on it (or dropping it in a drink) or even losing your phone, inadvertently damaging your cellphone can cost you big.
That’s why it may be worth purchasing a cellphone protection plan. Many cellphone manufacturers and wireless carriers offer in-house warranties or protection plans, while warranties from third-party servicers are also viable options to cover yourself in case of an emergency or unexpected cost.
After all, who wants to dip into their emergency fund to repair a cracked iPhone screen?
Below, we explore the top cellphone protection plans and warranties, their costs and coverage, what to keep in mind when choosing a plan, and when you may be able to forgo a plan altogether and save the money.
Top Manufacturer Warranties and Protection Plans
Do you own an iPhone? You’re not alone. Statistics show that around 43.5 percent of all smartphone users use iPhones. For these cellphone users, AppleCare+ is the manufacturer-offered protection plan. It includes 24/7 phone or chat access to Apple experts, and covers your phone, battery, and included earphones and accessories.
Let's talk numbers. Extending your phone’s warranty from 90 days to two years, plus covering two incidents of accidental damage, this protection plan costs $129-$199 for two years of coverage, depending on your iPhone’s model.
The drawbacks? Even after the initial cost of the plan, (which, to be fair, is high), you’ll still pay $29 for screen damage and $99 for any other damage.
Own a Motorola phone? Then Moto Care could be an option. Moto Care offers two levels of plans: accident protection, which costs $39.99-$159.99 and covers things like mechanical failure and liquid or physical damage.
The other plan offered is the extended service plan, which covers mechanical issues and costs $12.99-$69.99.
The number of claims you’re able to make is one of the accidental plan’s benefits; you’re allowed up to three claims per year. Deductibles range from $15-$95.
Proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy (or other Samsung device)? Then Samsung Protection Plus could be the answer to all your cellphone mishaps. Ringing in at $99-$129 for a two-year plan, depending on the phone model, this protection plan covers mechanical and electrical issues and accidental damage, allowing up to two replacements per year.
Carrier-Offered Insurance Plans
There are also insurance policies available through your wireless carrier. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile all offer insurance plans on their phones, which range in price.
Verizon’s Total Mobile Protection costs $13 per month per smartphone or $10 per month for a basic phone. It covers loss, theft, and damage—including cracked screens—and even offers next-day delivery for repairs, so you’ll get your phone back sooner rather than later. There’s also a deductible ranging from $19-$199, depending on your device.
AT&T Mobile Insurance costs $8.99 per month and covers loss, damage, liquid or other damage, and malfunctions not covered by your warranty.
Standard deductibles range from $25 to $299 – but AT&T does offer declining deductibles, which means that your deductible declines the longer it’s been since your last claim.
Sprint’s cellphone insurance ranges in cost from $9-$17 per month, depending on your device. The plan covers loss, liquid/physical damage, and repairs, which can be completed in-store or via mail.
T-Mobile Device Protection is another option. This plan protects you against mechanical issues, theft, loss, and accidental damage. Deductibles range from $29-$99. The cost of ranges from $9-$15, depending on which plan you select.
Overall, these carrier-offered plans generally cover you in the event of loss, theft, device malfunction, and damage. Most require deductibles but keep in mind that the deductible is almost always lower than the cost of replacing your phone altogether, which can save you money in the long run.
These types of plans may be a good option for you since they can replace your phone in the event that it’s damaged beyond repair. Plus, the cost of the plan is rolled into your monthly cellphone bill, which streamlines monthly tasks like paying bills.
What About Third-Party Policies?
If the manufacturer’s protection plan doesn’t fit your budget or your needs, then you may consider a third-party protection plan, such as SquareTrade.
SquareTrade offers two levels of plans–a standard plan, which covers issues like mechanical and electrical issues, speaker/sound failure, and screen failure. A plan costs between $89-$129 for a year of protection, plus a $25 deductible. But keep in mind that this protection plan can only repair your phone, not replace it.
Another option is Geek Squad, the cellphone protection plan offered via brick and mortar retailer Best Buy. It costs $7.99-$10.99 a month and covers theft, loss, drops, battery, and water damage.
Do I Really Need a Warranty?
In a word, no. It’s not required that you purchase a warranty for your cellphone. But when you keep in mind that 35 percent of all electronic owners damage their device in the first year alone, you may want to consider it.
Plus, when you compare the cost of a cellphone plan and its deductible to the cost of a new phone (iPhones, for example, can cost upwards of $999, while a new Samsung Galaxy will set you back around $720), it may be the better option financially.
But if you’re someone who prefers to use an older cellphone model, are extremely careful with your phone, or have the extra cash to replace your phone on hand (in other words, you can self-insure your phone), then a protection plan may not be worth it.
What to Consider When Choosing a Plan
A few things to consider when choosing a cellphone protection plan: first, how will the cost of the plan fit into your budget? If it will set you over your monthly line item for cellphone/internet/cable bill, then it may be wise to skip it.
Second, be sure that the plan covers you where you need it. For example, if you have the tendency to drop your phone, be sure it covers screen replacement (and that the deductible isn’t through the roof for this type of repair.) If you’re prone to dropping your cell into bodies of water (or even the toilet), confirm that your policy includes water damage.
Finally, be sure that you can actually sign up for the type of insurance you want. Many protection plans require that you sign up within a set period after purchasing your phone, like 14 or 30 days. Other plans require hefty deductibles. Others don't cover certain events, like theft. And still, others can't fully replace your phone, only repair it. (And remember to factor the cost of your cellphone insurance plan or warranty into your budget.)
Carefully weigh the options between carrier plans, manufacturer’s warranties, and third-party companies. What may work for you depends on what you need in terms of cost, coverage, deductible, and the number of claims allowed annually.