By Frank Ling
A typical scenario of how phones are lost or stolen is by leaving them behind accidentally in restaurants, libraries or other public establishments. Missing mobile phones that are returned to their owners are rare, but the other outcome that many are all too familiar with is that the phone is gone forever.
If the owners had phone insurance, would it have helped recover the cost of a replacement, and is phone insurance really worth it?
The insurance plans
When you buy a new mobile phone, the wireless carrier will give you the option of adding an insurance plan that will cover some of the costs of a replacement in the event of lost, damage or theft. Most of us are familiar with car insurance policies and how drivers are protected, but do phone insurance policies work in the same way?
The short answer is yes, but with a lot of conditions. Generally speaking phone insurance can cost anywhere from $6.99 to $14.99 per month or more. Plans also differ according to what you want in the coverage -- whether it is for simple lost or theft to full equipment coverage, which also replaces damaged or defective phones.
One wireless carrier offers a plan for insuring only iPhones. For argument’s sake, if a person signed up for this policy covering an iPhone 4S 32GB model, the premium paid would be $13.99 a month over a two-year contact.
If the phone is lost towards the end of the contract, the price of the policy would have totaled $335.76. There is a $199 deductable so the total insurance paid would have amounted to $534.76 – a new iPhone 4S 32GB costs $699 retail. So how much does the insurance really cover after everything is said and done? Only a mere $164.24.
If you have butter fingers, a way to protect your investment is to sign up with third-party insurers that offer lower premiums than wireless carriers. However, these policies only cover accidental damage or faulty equipment. If you lose your phone, you’re out of luck.
It’s worth it for some people
If you consider the narrow benefits of most phone insurance policies, they don’t do much to recoup any significant amount of money when you need to make a claim, but the peace of mind it gives some owners may be worth it. Just make sure you crunch the numbers and check out what the policy covers before you sign up for one.
For everyone else who decides not to buy phone insurance, just be careful when you go out, and never leave your mobile phone on a desk or table at public places; the odds are that you’ll forget to take it back sooner or later.
Frank Ling is the SF Gadgets Examiner and has been a writer, professional photographer, video producer, video game QA trainer, and video editor.