If you’re like us, there are few things scarier than the sight of your mobile facedown on the pavement.
No one wants to fork out hundreds of pounds unexpectedly. But it’s not just the thought of replacement costs that are scary.
It’s the thought of not having access to our mobile office, entertainment hub, fitness tracker, photo albums or scheduling tools.
Your mobile is more than a communication tool.
It's a part of daily life. And things get weird without them.
So it makes sense that you’d want to ensure that your mobile is protected should the unexpected happen.
For many people, this means picking up mobile insurance. But is this really the best way to protect your gear?
Well, we’ve researched the issue. And it turns out that while insurance offers protection, it’s not always the deal that many companies make it out to be.
We'll share what we've discovered, starting with the basics of how mobile insurance works and highlighting the pros and cons. From there, we’ll offer alternative suggestions that might help you save money while still keeping your mobile safe.
Let’s get started!
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2020.
In this in-depth guide, we’ll explain:
How Does Mobile Insurance Work?
Mobile insurance is just like any other type of insurance you’d purchase.
You buy a plan—either by way of monthly subscriptions or an upfront payment at the time of purchase. Should something happen to your mobile, you’ll receive compensation after paying your excess.
Most mobile insurance options fall into one of four categories:
1. Network-Based Insurance
You’ve probably seen these plans lurking around on your network’s add-ons page. You pay an additional fee each month for each device you want covered. When you need to make a claim, you contact your network, pay an excess and they ship a replacement. Some also allow swapping your damaged mobile at a network store.
2. Third-Party Subscriptions
These options are newer but gaining popularity. They work much like a network-based subscription, only you’re paying a different company. Costs are billed separately, so you’ll have one more bill to keep track of. However, most offer extra perks you won’t find with networks.
Popular options include:
- Protect Your Bubble
- Gadget Cover
- Endsleigh Mobile Phone Insurance
- Loveit Coverit
- SwitchedOn Insurance
- Back Me Up
- Tinhat Mobile Insurance
- Protect Your Gadget
- Barclays' Tech Pack
3. Bundled Bank or Credit Account Insurance
Many banks offer mobile protection for an added fee each month. They often add to the manufacturer’s warranty—both in what they cover and how long you’re protected.
Excesses—the fees you must pay if you make a claim—vary between companies. As does the max claim amount. But in most cases, excesses are lower than insurance plans.
Popular options include:
- Halifax's Ultimate Reward Current Account
- LLoyd's Platinum Account
- Nationwide's Flex Plus Account
- NatWest's Silver and Platinum Rewards Accounts
- TSB Bank's Silver and Platinum Current Accounts
However, it's important to consider more than just mobile coverage when choosing one of these bundled accounts. To get the most value, find an account that offers services you'll use regularly at the lowest price possible.
If you're counting on your benefits to cover multiple mobiles, be sure to check benefit terms and max claim limits to ensure you have adequate cover.
4. Manufacturer Protection Plans
Some manufacturers also sell protection plans. In most cases, if your manufacturer offers a plan, it’s probably one of the best deals you’ll find.
Current options include:
- Apple’s AppleCare+
What’s Covered by Mobile Phone Insurance
Coverage varies by provider. Some even offer multiple tiers of coverage. So, it’s important to dig into the details of any plan you’re considering before you sign up.
In most cases, mobile insurance covers:
- Manufacturing Defects: Should something go wrong that isn’t your fault but isn’t covered by the manufacturer warranty, your insurance plan will fill the gap.
- Battery Replacement: As a mobile’s battery goes through charging cycles, it slowly loses the ability to hold a charge. Many warranties will replace a battery upon request if it’s no longer holding a charge.
- Loss or Theft: Should you misplace your mobile, or someone swipes it, you can pay your excess and receive a replacement.
Other protections you might find include:
- Accidental Damage Protection: If your mobile slips off the table or you drop it on the sidewalk, you’re still covered! Did your dog run through and snag a cable and now your headphone jack or charging port doesn’t work? They’ll fix it!
- Water Damage Protection: Some plans treat water damage differently. In fact, a lot of plans don’t cover it at all. But there are some plans that do. With water damage protection, there’s no need to fear accidental dips in the pool or runs through the wash.
- New Mobile Setup: Some insurance plans will help you to get your data and settings from your old mobile to your new one. While most smartphones store most of your information online anyhow, these services add peace of mind and reduce hassle.
- Specialized Support: Should you have a question about a feature on your mobile or how to set up apps, some insurance plans feature dedicated support lines without the queues of standard customer support options.
NOTE: Many insurance plans have exemptions for blatant abuse or negligence. An insurance plan doesn’t give you a reason to throw your mobile out the window or intentionally take it for a swim. If you do, you might find that your claim is denied.
So I Just Make a Claim and They Send Me a Brand New Mobile?
Again, this will vary by provider. But in most cases, the answer is no.
With many insurance providers, once you make a claim, you’ll need to mail your device to a service center or drop it off at a retail location.
Then one of three things happens:
- If they can fix it, they’ll do so and send it back. Service usually takes between 3 to 10 business days.
- If they cannot fix your mobile, you’re issued a replacement. In most cases, this is a refurbished device. Service is typically a little quicker and some providers will even ship out a replacement before receiving your device.
- If they cannot fix the mobile and it’s no longer in stock, you might receive a completely different model they deem to be of equal value. You can read about the perils of this over at PC Gamer.
Long story short, unless they can fix your mobile, this outcome probably isn’t as good as you’d hoped.
With some third-party protection plans, you might receive a payout instead of replacement.
In this case, you’ll send the device to the service provider and they’ll mail you a check for the value of the phone. You can then purchase a replacement at your own discretion.
If you purchased your insurance or protection plan through a retailer, you might be able to bring your broken device to a retail location for immediate exchange.
This saves the cost and hassles of shipping and can have you back up and running the same day. However, in most cases, the plans you purchase from retailers are more expensive.
NOTE: Some insurance and protection plans do not cover issues during travel. If you’re planning to explore the world, be sure to check if you’re covered before taking off. You might be better off picking up a cheap prepaid mobile and leaving your main mobile at home. You’ll likely pay cheaper rates at your destination to use your mobile with a prepaid or travel SIM, and if it breaks or is stolen, you’re not losing hundreds of pounds.
I Already Have Home Contents Insurance. Can I Use That Instead?
In some cases, yes. However, you should contact your insurance provider before counting on this option. Some will require an addition or specific cover on your policy to cover your mobile.
Even if they agree to cover your mobile, it might not be worth it. While mobiles are expensive and, for many, an essential tool, the cost of a new mobile is likely less than the increased premium you’ll pay for months or years after a claim.
However, one situation where this might work is a major loss, such as a fire, flood or if someone steals your mobile, laptop and camera. Even if each item was insured separately with protection plans, individual excesses could pile up fast. Paying more for your insurance for a while but only having one excess might end up cheaper in the big picture.
What About the Manufacturer’s Warranty?
Manufacturer’s warranties are great but only cover defects. This means if you drop your mobile or lose it, your warranty won’t help. However, if your mobile isn’t working through no fault of your own, it might be an option to try.
Most will require you to ship the device back to them—sometimes at your cost—and they’ll either repair or replace it. This is better than insurance in the sense that you’ll likely get your exact mobile back or a replacement of the same model. But it might take a week or two to get back up and running between repair times and shipping.
How Much Does Mobile Insurance Cost?
Insurance prices vary depending on the company you choose and the type of device you need to insure. For example, some companies charge more for a plan or increase excesses for flagship mobiles or other high-end devices.
At the time of writing, insurance plan pricing for the major networks are as follows:
- Three: £4 - £14 per month
- EE: Starting at £4 - £14 per month
- Vodafone: £6.50 to £13.50 per month
- O2: £3 to £9 per month
- Tesco Mobile: £4 to £12 per month
Most third-party subscription plans are comparably priced between £10 and £20 per month.
Protection plans, on the other hand, depend on the price of your device.
As an example, Apple offers two years of coverage for an iPhone 7 for £119. That breaks down to only £9.92 per month.
But remember, monthly costs are only one part of the picture. If you need to make a claim, the insurance company will ask for a excess as well.
As with monthly fees, excesses often vary depending on the value of the mobile.
Excesses for major networks at the time of writing are as follows:
- Three: £20 to £80 per claim depending on the plan and value of the mobile
- EE: £0 to £120 per claim
- Vodafone: £79 per claim
- O2: £10 to £90 per claim depending on the value of the mobile and service times
- Tesco Mobile: £25 to £85 per claim depending on the value of the mobile
In most cases, unless you’re using a very basic mobile, you can expect excesses to be near the higher end of these scales.
Many of the subscription-based services and protection plans have excesses between £25 and £100.
As you can see, even with insurance, replacing your mobile still won’t be free. In some cases, after excesses, you might even pay more for your replacement than picking up a used one online.
So Is Mobile Insurance Really Worth It?
In the end, the answer depends on your situation. Let’s look at a few possible scenarios:
You own the latest option from Apple or Samsung. This puts you in the highest tier for excesses on an insurance plan, but you want to protect your device—especially with its £700+ price tag.
You sign up for insurance and at month eight disaster strikes. You’ve already paid £96 in monthly premiums. Now you need to pay an excess of £79.
So, your out-of-pocket replacement costs are £175—roughly 25% of the cost of buying a new one retail.
Where the math gets tricky is refurbished replacements. For example, if a refurbished version of your new mobile is selling for £400. Then your savings decrease.
This isn’t much of a concern with major brands, such as Samsung, Apple or LG, as their mobiles hold their value well. But if you’re using an expensive model from a lesser-known manufacturer, you might find that buying a refurbished one yourself is cheaper than the cost of monthly insurance payments and an excess.
Is mobile insurance worth it in this scenario? Verdict: 50/50
You signed up for a contract and got a great deal through a mobile subsidy or financing. You only paid £79 for the mobile, but you must stick with the network for two years or face hefty fees. A £79 mobile shouldn’t be too hard to replace, so you skip the insurance.
Six months later, you’re washing dishes and your mobile slips off the counter and into the sink. You call up your network to see about another £79 mobile only to find out that the replacement will be at full retail value--£549! Ending your contract early isn’t much cheaper.
So, unless you want to pick up a cheap mobile that isn’t nearly as nice as what you had, you’re left spending a bunch of money to replace it, paying an expensive termination fee or paying for a line of service each month until the end of your contract but not being able to use it.
Is mobile insurance worth it in this scenario? Verdict: Most likely (though avoiding subsidies and contracts is an even better option)
You tend to buy whatever’s affordable and will get the job done. In most cases, you’re unwilling to pay more than £300 for a mobile. But you do like a capable smartphone. You jump for the insurance because it should save you money.
After 8 months, your son tries to flush your mobile down the toilet. You’ve already paid £96 in monthly premiums and now you’re looking at an excess of £79 because while your mobile isn’t exactly new, it’s still a full-featured smartphone.
So your out-of-pocket replacement costs are £175—nearly 60% of paying retail prices for a new replacement.
Here’s where refurbished replacements cause bigger problems. There’s a good chance your refurbished replacement was actually cheaper that the full retail price. If refurbished values drop far enough, you could end up paying more than the replacement mobile is actually worth -- especially if you're not replacing a top-end phone.
Is mobile insurance worth it in this scenario? Verdict: Probably not
You don’t want a fancy mobile—just something reliable. So you find a deal for a £59 mobile and grab it. You figure insurance is a simple way to save money replacing it if something goes wrong.
After 8 months, you leave your mobile on the roof of the car as you pull out of the driveway. SMASH! You’ve already paid £56 in monthly premiums. They still want a £29 excess. So your out-of-pocket costs are £85—more than just popping by the store to pick up another cheap mobile.
Is mobile insurance worth it in this scenario? Verdict: NO
As you can see, insurance values vary—largely based on the price of your mobile and how quickly you need to make a claim.
- If you’re always upgrading to the latest flagship, insurance probably offers a good value. Just don’t expect replacement to be free.
- Once you reach mobile prices around £399, value you’ll get from insurance depends on how long you have insurance before you need to make a claim. But using the average figures from above, if you have insurance for more than 12 months, you could likely buy a new mid-tier handset for the price you’re paying for insurance and excesses.
- For the budget tier, you’re not really saving any money on replacement after just a few months. You’re likely better off just replacing the mobile out of pocket if you break it instead of gambling on if you’ll beat the math on insurance.
Choosing the Best Mobile Insurance for You
If you've decided you want mobile insurance, the next question becomes: which insurance provider to choose?
The answer to this depends which mobile you own.
For iPhones, Apple’s AppleCare+ is actually a pretty amazing deal. But you’re limited to two accidental damage repairs and you’ll still need to pay out of pocket. Still, £79 to £199 upfront with a £25 screen repair fee and £79 excesses for other repairs is still less than a year of insurance through networks after excesses.
Better still, if you have an Apple Store nearby, they can likely repair it on-site. This means you’ll be back up and running quickly.
For other Android and Windows mobiles, you’ll want to look at the section above and decide between an insurance plan or a protection plan.
If you’re worried about loss or theft, an insurance plan is probably a better option.
However, if you’re simply looking to replace a mobile that’s been dropped or otherwise broken, a protection plan will likely save you some money.
Insurance Options Offered by Networks Include:
|Network||Monthly Fee||Low Excess||High Excess||Total for 1 Claim after 24 Months|
|£4 - £14||£20||£80||£116 - £416|
|£4 - £14||£0||£120||£96 - £456|
|£6.50 - £13.50||£79||£79||£235 - £403|
|£3 - £9||£10||£90||£82 - £306|
|£4 - £12||£25||£85||£121 - £373|
Are There Any Alternative to Mobile Insurance or Protection Plans?
There’s a good chance that at some point, you’ll damage your mobile—even if just cosmetically.
Without insurance, you might think that your only option is to buy a new one. That’s not true.
These options might be able to get you back up and running cheaper than replacing your mobile.
Just Pay Out of Pocket for Fixes If Required
Just because you don’t have insurance, doesn’t mean that the manufacturer or local electronic shop won’t repair your mobile. You’ll just pay out of pocket for the fix. Also, if your mobile is lost or stolen, you can’t repair something you can’t find.
In some cases, repairs are more affordable than you might think. For example, Apple will repair a cracked iPhone 11 screen for £196.44 even without coverage.
The best rates are often found at local mobile or electronics shops. However, before you hand over your mobile, see if they’re licensed by the manufacturer. If they’re not, repairs will void your warranty.
Then again, if it's already broken, the warranty isn’t doing you much good either.
If you can’t find a shop nearby, search your local online classifieds or social media groups. You’ll often find someone offering mobile repair services.
See If Your Credit Card Company Provides Any Insurance
Some credit cards offer device protection although the exact terms vary by card. Exact terms vary by card. Some only extend manufacturer’s warranties while others add additional “purchase insurance” or "device protection" to help with damaged or stolen items.
However, most purchase protection options are only good for 90 to 120 days from the date of purchase. So you can’t count on this for long-term protection. They’ll also require you to make a claim through any insurance options you might have elsewhere before triggering your purchase protection.
Coverage amounts vary. If your card doesn’t include enough coverage for the full price of your mobile, you might need to cover the difference out of pocket.
In most cases, you’ll start the claims process by calling your credit card provider instead of your network or the device manufacturer.
Roll Your Own Insurance Plan with a Secret Stash
Before you start setting money aside, it’s important to consider the two drawbacks to this plan:
- It requires planning and willpower.
- If something happens to your mobile in the first few months, you’re probably not going to have much choice but to front replacement costs.
The concept is simple.
Take the price of your mobile and divide it up into payments.
Instead of paying your network or a plan provider, put the money somewhere safe—and out of your main bank account—so you don’t spend it.
DON’T TOUCH IT
If your mobile breaks, you should have savings built up to replace it.
If your mobile doesn’t break, you can use your stash for your next upgrade and start again.
This is by far the most efficient option. You won’t pay any extra fees and you have the freedom to replace your device with anything you’d like if something goes wrong with your existing one. In fact, if you keep the money in an interest-bearing savings account, you might even make a little money in the process!
For example, if you’re stashing money to replace an iPhone 11, the current price from Apple is £729. Divided into 12 payments, you’re looking at £60.75—not a small sum, but not exactly budget breaking.
Even if you only made it to the 8 month mark before disaster strikes, you’ll have saved up £486. So that leaves you adding £243 to your stash to buy the replacement.
You can also sell your broken mobile or recycle it to add to your savings. An iPhone 6S with a broken screen still fetches around £200 on eBay.
So after that, you're only paying £50 to £100 to replace your £729 mobile. Toward the low end of the scale, this rivals the excesses from many insurance covers.
If your mobile survives until upgrade time, you can sell your used mobile after upgrading to jump start the savings toward a new replacement fund.
Get Techy with DIY Repairs
Mobiles are getting more complex—particularly with waterproofing methods—so you might think twice before doing a repair yourself.
Even if you feel comfortable repairing it yourself, you might also run into issues finding parts.
We recommend checking iFixit’s database of mobile repair tutorials before trying to fix any mobile problems. They offer step-by-step guides and videos for a range of popular devices.
You’ll also find links to purchase parts and tools. While you’ll probably pay more at iFixit than eBay or another source, the dependability is likely worth the cost.
Be sure to research parts, tools and time requirements first. Sometimes, it’s cheaper to replace than repair.
The real value of insurance depends on your mobile, usage habits and budget
Protection plans often offer better value than insurance plans
Saving money yourself instead of buying insurance requires more effort, but offers the most flexibility and savings.
Always check the fine print to see what’s covered. Consider deductibles, covered damages, loss or theft coverage.
Always check the fine print to see how they will compensate you for your device. Many plans use refurbished mobiles or even different models entirely.
Self repair isn’t as easy as it once was—you’re usually better off going to a repair shop but this might void your warranty
Please note: This article is based on our opinion and does not constitute financial advice. When considering purchasing financial products, you should always speak with an Independent Financial Adviser.
P.S. Found this article after your mobile was already lost, stolen or broken? Our Guide to Buying a Used Mobile can help you find a good deal on a reliable used option instead of shelling out the money for a new one. You can use the savings to kick start your stash toward the next upgrade or replacement!