These days most of us carry around some kind of expensive gadget in our pockets. Whilst we all love the convenience and enjoyment our iPhones, iPad and Androids bring, how many of us consider the expense of having to replace a new smartphone if it gets lost, broken or stolen?
What’s The Cost?
The real cost of smartphones and tablets is hidden from us, obscured by huge subsidies which the networks make back by locking us into 2 or even 3 year contracts. If you lose your smartphone unexpectedly, it could leave a serious hole in your pocket.
For the latest models, the economics are simple. A quick look on Amazon reveals the cost of a new, contract-free iPhone to be over £500. The same goes for the top Android phones. However, if your phone is a bit older, you should seriously weigh up the cost of insurance versus replacing your current phone. Virtually all mobile phone insurers charge an excess, sometimes up to £100 so you really need to do your homework before forking out on a premium.
Types Of Mobile Phone Insurance
There are lots of places selling insurance for phones, here’s a breakdown of the main options.
Mobile phone companies
Every network has it’s own insurance policy it can sell you. Although convenient, these policies tend to be a bit pricey. For example, both Vodafone and 02 charge over £12/ month to insure an iPhone with them, that’s over £300 over a standard 2 year contract.
There are a handful of specialist companies selling mobile phone insurance. Some of the biggest are Foneguard, Talkcover and Gadget Guardian. They offer a range of policies from as low as £1.49 for a PAYG phone. It’s a competitive industry so it’s best to browse all of the offerings. These companies will also typically offer policies for laptops, iPads and other electronic gadgets.
Home contents insurance
If you have an expensive phone, you’ll get the best insurance deal if you can include it on your home contents insurance. The biggest downside here is that you may suffer a big no-claims penalty if you decide to reclaim back the cost of your lost or stolen phone.
Premium bank accounts
Many banks now offer a range of extras like phone and travel insurance if you pay for one of their premium accounts. In the same way you would look for the best mobile phone deals , just make sure you check the small print before signing up, to ensure you’re getting the right policy for you.
Many people have had bad experiences with phone insurance. Unlike other forms of cover, the price you pay doesn’t depend on age, sex or any other demographic factors. Therefore, you generally get a one size fits-all policy, full of get-out clauses for the insurer and little comeback for the consumer.For instance, most thefts are not covered unless they are accompanied buy a ‘threat of violence’. Therefore if you’re pick-pocketed, your bag is stolen on the beach (as happened to me last summer!) or you are in a public place while the theft occurs, your claim is likely to get turned down. Also, most policies say you need to report the theft within 24-48 hours to the police.To avoid disappointment, you should think of every eventuality where your phone might be lost or stolen and then quiz your insurer to see if their cover still applies.
Apart from spending money on insurance, there are lots of preventative measures you can take to save the massive inconvenience of losing your phone. These will also protect you against any security risks of having your private data comprised.
You should always have your numbers and contacts stored separately away from your phone. Even the most basic phones now have sync software that lets you load your phone’s data onto your home computer. There are also web based services like Mobyko and Anywr that allow easy backup of all your phone data including calendars. Apple ios5 users now have the benefit of iCloud technology which auto-magically syncs contacts, calendars – even music and photos between iPhones, Macs and iPads – very smart! Finally, you could always resort to a pen and paper backup. It might be old school, but you’ll be very grateful if you suddenly find yourself without any of your contact numbers following a loss or theft.
Common sense rules
Remember to be streetwise when using your phone in public. Walking and texting without a care in the world will make you an obvious target to any opportunist thieves. Be extra careful when abroad. Only set your phone to make international calls if absolutely necessary. And most importantly, report any crime to both the police and your network provider as soon as you can.
Finally, it’s up to you to weigh up the pros and cons of buying insurance. If you’re a scatterbrain with the latest expensive smartphone you might need the extra peace of mind. But if you’re a risk-adverse individual and your phone isn’t the top of the range, you might decide otherwise. Just be careful, do your homework and you’ll make the right decision.