What About Cell Phone Insurance?


iPhone 5Like some of you, I got a new cell phone for Christmas. Mine is a white 64GB iPhone 5. I knew I wanted insurance but I wasn’t sure from whom. I had always gone with Verizon’s insurer, Asurion. But with a $199 deductible for my iPhone, I figured that I’d look around to see what else is out there.

While I focused on iPhone coverage (obviously), much of the information below is applicable for other smartphones as well.

I looked at three major insurers of iPhones — Asurion, Apple and SquareTrade. I have insured numerous phones or laptops from each provider. I have been very happy with the service provided by both Asurion and Apple through its AppleCare program. While I have never had to file a claim with SquareTrade, they are highly rated by Amazon, the Apple App Store and Google.

First, let’s take a look at the programs offered by each provider.

ASURION

In my experience, Verizon has only talked about Asurion’s Total Equipment Coverage plan when you buy your phone. Interestingly enough, I found that there are two other plans offered as well — Wireless Phone Protection and Extended Limited Warranty or Service Contract. For the most part, the Total Equipment Coverage plan is just that — the phone and all of its accessories are covered for loss, damage or malfunction, including those not included by the manufacturer when purchased. Wireless Phone Protection basically covers the phone only for loss, damage or malfunction. The Extended Warranty or Service Contract covers malfunctions only at a cost of $1.99 per month. Since I am looking for damage coverage, the Extended Warranty coverage did not meet my criteria.


APPLE

Apple offers AppleCare+ which covers the phone and the accessories it came with (battery, earbuds and charger) for damage or malfunction.

SQUARETRADE

SquareTrade offers covers the phone and the accessories it came with (earbuds and charger) for damage or malfunction.

Let’s take a look at the coverage provided by the three providers.


 

FEATURE

ASURION TOTAL EQUIPMENT COVERAGE

ASURION WIRELESS PHONE PROTECTION

APPLECARE+

SQUARETRADE

Electrical and Mechanical Defects

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Physical damage

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Accessories coverage

All

No

Battery, Earbuds, Charger

No

Loss

Yes

Yes

No

No

Theft

Yes

Yes

No

No

Where Can I Go for Help?

Verizon Wireless Stores

Verizon Wireless Stores

Apple Genius Bar

Apple Genius Bar

Duration

Open

Open

2 Years

2 Years

Claims Limits

2 in 12-month period

2 in 12-month period

2

4

iPhone Deductible (Verizon)

8GB or 16GB – $169

32GB or 64GB -$199

8GB or 16GB – $169

32GB or 64GB – $199

$49

$50

Overnight Replacement

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Signup Window

30 days

30 days

30 days

30 days

Purchase Price

$9.99 / month

$8.18 / month

$99

$124 (currently on sale for $99)

2-Year Purchase Price (excluding taxes)

$239.76

$196.32

$99

$124 ($99)

2-Year Cost for 64GB iPhone, assuming one repair/replacement

$438.76

$395.32

$148

$174 ($149)

Insurance costs for other smartphones are:

  • Asurion Total Equipment Coverage – $6.99 / month.  $99 deductible.
  • Asurion Wireless Phone Protection – $5.18 / month.  $99 deductible.
  • SquareTrade – $125 for 2-year plan

Just a few comments on the information above:

— Asurion’s coverage and pricing may vary by carrier.

— With SquareTrade, you can make an appointment at your Apple Store’s Genius Bar for diagnosis and repair.  SquareTrade will reimburse you.  Optionally, SquareTrade will send you a replacement phone overnight.

— With AppleCare+, in addition to Genius Bar repairs, there is also a mail-in service.  AppleCare+ also includes iOS, iCloud and Apple apps (Mail, Safari, etc.) support.

— Obviously, the only smartphone covered by AppleCare+ is the iPhone.

Why does Asurion cost considerably more?  Because it covers loss and theft.   AppleCare+ and SquareTrade do not.   If you have to replace your iPhone 5 before your 2-year contract is up, it will cost you $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB) or $849 (64GB).  If you are concerned about losing your phone or having it stolen, Asurion could be a good deal.

So, which provider did I choose?  Since only Asurion’s plans cover loss and theft,  I had to decide how important that is for me.   I have had cell phones since the late ‘80s and have never lost one or had one stolen.  Am I just lucky or am I due for that to happen?  I went with ‘lucky’.  I figure with the ‘Find my iPhone’ feature, if my phone goes missing, I should be able to find it.  So, it came down to AppleCare+ or SquareTrade.  Since the screen on my old iPhone 4 cracked twice, I went with SquareTrade.  Hopefully, I won’t have four repairs over the next two years.  But if I need them, it’s good to know that they are there.

See Asurion’s, Apple’s and SquareTrade’s websites for more details.

About the Author

Judy Novotny

Judy is a computer veteran with 30 years of experience. She has owned everything from a TRS-80, Apple IIe and various Windows-based PCs. She is currently living in her Apple ecosystem at home consisting of an iPhone, iPad, iMac, MacBook, Apple TV, iPod nano and two Time Capsules. She is a fan of all things mobile since she got her first Palm Pilot in 1999. Check out her iPad app, Number Wizard, in the App Store. Follow her on Twitter @junovotech or at Junovo.com.

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