Do you have a new smartphone for Christmas? Here's what you need to know about device protection plans • Good Assurance


It was a typical Wednesday morning. I was getting out of my building and walking towards the train when I stumbled on my lace and dropped my iPhone.

Yes, my iPhone 6S, still in perfect condition, that I had received as a present for Christmas the year before. And as my luck would have it that morning, my phone apparently landed on the only pebble on the sidewalk in front of me, instantly breaking my screen.

But because I had invested $ 159 of my own money in a three-year SquareTrade mobile phone protection plan – one of several third-party insurers – This simple mishap has not become a budget affair. Instead, I paid a $ 25 deductible and took advantage of SquareTrade Go, the company's on-demand device repair service. During the afternoon, a technician met me at my office and I could watch him replace the screen of my smartphone on the spot.

I am far from alone, of course. Americans have paid enough bill to repair the screens of their smartphones. A SquareTrade's recent study, which is a subsidiary of Allstate

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have discovered that US smartphone owners have broken more than 50 million screens in the last year and spent $ 3.4 billion to fix them. The same report estimated that two-thirds of smartphone owners had damaged their phones in one way or another.

And as the price of mobile devices has increased, the cost of repair has also increased. The iPhone Xs Max costs $ 1,099 if bought in one payment with Apple

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. Replacing the screen of the device would cost $ 329 without insurance, which is twice the average price of a new screen.

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In addition, the iPhone X and other high-end smartphones are now equipped with a fully glass housing and a more advanced face recognition technology, built into the phone. This brought the cost of no-screen repairs to $ 599. For the context, it's what cost a brand new model of the original iPhone when it was released. "Electronics is becoming increasingly expensive and increasingly fragile," said Jason Siciliano, Global Creative Director and Vice President of SquareTrade.

While smart phone insurance has become a more profitable investment, buying a protection plan is not a foolproof decision. Here's what consumers should consider:

Who uses the smartphone – and what device did they receive?

According to experts, when it comes to choosing the right smartphone protection plan, the biggest consideration should be one of one's habits. "Are they subject to accidents? Do they have young children? Said Kelsey Sheehy, a personal finance expert at Nerdwallet. "If so, then insurance would be a thoughtful supplement."

A Consumer Reports survey found that 81% of people with young children who had a smartphone had lost at least one device in the last two years.

Another consideration is the device in question. If it's one of the flagship models of Apple or Samsung

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, an insurance or protection plan can make sense because of the actual cost of the device itself. However, for consumers who buy a low-end smartphone, insurance may not make much sense, said Chris Raymond, deputy editor of Consumer Reports.

What plans exist and how much do they cost?

There are basically three types of smartphone insurance and protection plans: warranty plans offered by manufacturers such as Apple or Samsung, warranty and protection plans offered by mobile operators such as AT & T. T.

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or Verizon

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and third-party plans of companies like SquareTrade. Plans offered by wireless carriers are generally administered by other insurance companies, such as Asurion and Assurant.

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From a cost perspective, some plans charge users a monthly fee (although they can cancel at any time), while in others, consumers can pay in advance for a certain length of time. Wireless handset protection for mobile operators can start at $ 3 per month – that's the cost of Verizon's wireless phone protection plan – and cost increases based on the amount of coverage received by the consumer or the type of device covered. These plans are usually billed on a monthly basis.

Third party insurers such as SquareTrade and Best Buy's Geek Squad,

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have plans that start at $ 8.99 per month and whose cost increases depending on the device. Comparatively, manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung apply a single tariff for protection coverage for a given period, ranging from about 99 to 269 USD, depending on the coverage and the device.

All insurance plans have deductibles to pay before repairs are covered. These can be as low as $ 19 and as high as $ 250, depending on the model.

To judge the value of an insurance plan, Raymond suggested consumers compare the cost of uninsured repairs to the cost of the scheme itself. "It would give you a good idea that the insurance is worth it," he said.

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Which plans cover and do not cover

Accidental damage and malfunctions not covered by the guarantee are generally covered by the insurance plans. Like any insurance plan, consumers will have to submit claims and have them approved by their insurer to receive compensation.

Many providers, including Asurion's and SquareTrade's mobile phone offerings, offer same-day services for simple repairs, such as replacing a screen in most major cities for just $ 25. .

But sometimes, diets have limits even on what they usually cover. For example, some plans will only cover two or three cases of accidental damage in a given year. Other programs, including SquareTrade, also limit the number of times that a smartphone user can replace the battery of his device. Intentional damage to a device is usually not covered.

And when it comes to replacing an irreparable device, plans action plans vary. Some will provide money for the purchase of a new device, while others will provide a replacement device. In the latter case, replacement devices are often refurbished models – and not always the same model that the consumer originally had.

Theft and loss of the device is another area in which the coverage of smartphone protection plans varies considerably. SquareTrade, for example, never covers these events – Siciliano explained that it was because the thefts and the losses are much rarer than the accidental damages but that they cost more, it is why SquareTrade waives this coverage to reduce the cost of its projects. Some plans, such as AppleCare and Geek Squad Protection, charge more for consumers who want protection against theft and loss. With other companies, including AT & T, this protection comes standard.

Some plans may also require consumers to have their devices repaired by a specific company – and this is not always the original manufacturer. This is partly why Philip Michaels, editor of the electronics website, Tom's Guide, is very interested in the projects of the manufacturers. "I feel comfortable giving Apple my job," said Michaels. "AppleCare is generous enough with its terms, although it can be said that it's a bit pricey."

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Consider alternatives to smartphone insurance

There are other ways to cover a lost or damaged smartphone in addition to the payment of a special insurance policy. If you have received a smartphone as a gift and you pay your monthly phone bill with some credit cards, including the US Visa Platinum card.

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the fargo well

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Propel American Express Card

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and the Deserve Pro MasterCard

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– Mobile phone insurance can be included.

Consumers' devices can also be covered by the insurance plans of their owner or renter – or they can talk to their insurance agent. add additional coverage.

Some people, including a consumer spending expert and a radio host Clark Howard, are against smartphone insurance plans, arguing that costs can easily pile up and that exclusions can prevent them from being useful. Instead, he and others suggest buying a sturdy holster, which can prevent most accidental damage. "It's a small $ 30 expense that will save you a lot of grief," Michaels said.