If you’ve unwrapped a mobile phone this Christmas then you’ll need consider insurance. Whether you’ve paid £150 or £500, losing or breaking a smartphone is a hit financially, especially if you are tied into a 24-month contract and have to pay - phone or no phone.
Financial considerations aside, for many of us mobile phones aren’t just ways of staying in touch, they’re personal computers, multimedia devices, portable offices and games consoles, playing a pivotal role in the way we run our lives. Like it or not (and it is a first world problem), losing a phone will impact day-to-day life for many. Opting for insurance provides peace of mind if your phone gets lost, stolen or damaged.
At the point of purchasing a phone you’ll get 12-month hardware warranty, however it’s not insurance, so don’t rely on it should something go wrong. For example Apple states its iPhone warranty covers you: ‘against defects in materials and workmanship when used normally in accordance with Apple's published guidelines.‘ Scratches, dents, damage caused by water, another device (like a case) and upgrades performed by someone who is not a qualified Apple specialist are not covered.
Things to consider before choosing phone insurance
There are dozens of providers offering insurance cover for your mobile phone, often with different levels of cover, before you sign consider these factors.
What about loss?
Have you ever lost a phone? If so ensure your insurance policy covers loss as well as accidental damage.
Do you ever lend your phone to your child? If so choose insurance that covers other users. Usually this is restricted to immediate family - son, daughter, wife, husband - although some policies include siblings too.
Are calls covered?
If a PAYG phone has been is stolen, once the credit has been used up that’s that, Pay Monthly users have the additional worry of a lost or stolen phone being used for unauthorised calls, significantly impacting the bill. The majority of phone insurers provide cover for unauthorised calls, varying from £100-£1000. Remember the moment your tell your network operator your phone has been stolen or is missing, it will block the SIM card, so it can’t be used.
Excess - is it worth it?
In the event of claiming on insurance for a lost phone, check the excess. If it’s more than the value of the phone, it may be cheaper to buy a new phone. If you’re claiming for damage, such as a cracked screen, it can often cost less to fix it yourself.
Check how quickly your insurer will replace the phone - it can vary from 24 hours to several days. If it’s more than a day, do you have a back-up or are you willing to buy a cheap PAYG handset?
In the event your phone goes missing, it’s important to act quickly to stay within the terms of your insurance, this means reporting it to the police to get a crime reference number and informing your network and insurer as soon as possible. The time period varies between networks, for example Orange Care gives a 48-hour window, while Vodafone’s is seven days, so check the terms and conditions.
Look out for exclusions
All insurers have exclusions, such as leaving your phone unattended (perhaps on a table in a restaurant), so check the terms and conditions carefully. Cover often doesn’t start for 14 days either.
Best phone insurance deals
When you buy a phone from one of the UK’s networks you’ll usually be asked if you want insurance at point of sale, but while it might seem convenient to sign on the dotted line, it is usually more expensive than a dedicated phone insurer. For example O2 charges £12.50 a month for iPhone insurance, but go to an independent provider and you can pay half that.
Here are our pick of the best mobile phone insurers.
Insurance2Go offers three levels of cover, with separate policies for the iPhone.
There’s a £50/£75 accidental damage/theft excess and phone replacement within 72 hours.
Insurance2Go is one of the few insurers to provide cover that starts straight away.
Basic Cover £3.99 a month/£34.99 per annum
Includes accidental damage, 30-days overseas cover and use by immediate family, but loss, theft, water damage, and unauthorised calls are not included.
Lite Cover £5.99/£54.99 per annum
Pay £2 a month more and as well as the above you’ll be covered for liquid damage, theft, mobile wallet protection and £1000 of unauthorised calls. Loss is not included.
Full Cover £6.99 a month/£64.99 per annum
For an extra £1 a month cover includes the above and loss.
Insure and Go
InsureandGo offers five levels of cover, the excess varies from £25 to £0 and phone replacement is within several days. All cover includes access to a technical helpline, worldwide cover, but not unauthorised calls.
Bronze £27.50 per annum
For phones up to £250, includes accidental damage, but not theft, breakdown or loss.
Silver £39.50 per annum
For phones up to £500, includes accidental damage, theft and accessory cover but not breakdown or loss
Gold £47.50 per annum
For phones up to £500, includes accidental damage, theft, breakdown and accessory cover, but not loss.
Platinum £62.50 per annum
For phones up to £500, includes accidental damage, theft, breakdown, loss and accessory cover.
Black £107.50 per annum
The same as Platinum, but for phones up to £1000
Protect Your Bubble
Protect your Bubble offers policies with prices dependent on the value of your phone, so the more expensive your phone the more you’ll pay, but policy terms remain unchanged.
Accidental damage, water damage, theft, worldwide cover and £100 unauthorised calls are covered, loss costs an extra £1 a month. Phone replacement is within 48 hours and there’s a £50 excess,
Nokia 3120 Classic (value £0-£150) - £1.50 a month/£2.50 with loss
HTC Wildfire S (value £150-£250) - £3.99 a month/£4.99 with loss
Samsung Galaxy S3 (value £401-£500) - £5.99 a month/£6.99 with loss
Apple iPhone 5 16GB (cover up to £600) - £5.99 a month/£6.99 with loss
Home Contents Insurance
Home Contents insurance can typically covers mobile phones under ‘personal possessions,’ but check the single-item value, if it’s capped at £500 it might not cover the cost of a high-end smartphone like the 64GB iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S3, in which case speak to your insurer and consider naming it as an individual item.