Choosing a smartphone insurance or warranty program can leave your head spinning – but now that smartphones retail for over $600, you don’t want to be caught without a plan in the middle of a contract if something happens to your phone. Most phones come with at least a limited warranty – but these plans often don’t cover much, and you may not have the option to purchase an additional protection program after the limited warranty expires. An insurance plan essentially enhances or extends your phone’s warranty

Some important things to consider:

  • Are loss and theft covered?
  • How much is the plan’s deductible?
  • What is the plan’s cancellation policy?
  • Is water damage covered – and does that include both spills and immersion?
  • Will you be charged a monthly payment or one-time fee?
  • Will your replacement phone be the same model as your current phone?
  • Are you guaranteed to get a replacement by a certain time?
  • Are you limited in the number of replacements allowed?

Many smartphone protection plans are available through Asurion, a third-party insurance company that offers coverage on various phones through each specific participating cell phone carrier:  Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Boost Mobile, Clear, Clear Wire, Metro PCS, nTelos, Time Warner Cable and Virgin Mobile. (You cannot buy an Asurion program on its own without a provider.) Though they all use Asurion, each cell carrier has a different name for their protection plan, so it’s not possible to distill Asurion’s features into a single list.

Additionally, some carriers also combine Asurion’s protection plans with their own extended warranty programs. Before purchasing, be sure to check the specific benefits of your provider’s Asurion plan. This can be especially confusing; for example, Verizon’s Extended Limited Warranty does not cover liquid damage or batteries, but these areas are covered under Asurion’s wireless phone protection, which is part of Verizon’s Total Equipment Coverage. (If you choose Verizon’s Extended Warranty but not the Total Equipment Coverage, be sure to familiarize yourself with the differences.)

For many consumers, price is the most important factor in choosing a warranty program – but keep in mind that most plans include  a deductible, the amount of money you have to pay if you lose your handset.  A cheaper monthly fee likely means a higher deductible. Also be aware that varying state laws can result in variations of plan terms and conditions.

Here are the 5 best smartphone insurance and warranty programs we’ve found:

5. SquareTrade

SquareTrade has a lower base price than many other plans, but a somewhat higher deductible ($99). Loss and theft are not covered, but water immersion is. Note: Through Costco, you can get an even better SquareTrade plan with a lower based price and lower deductible, provided of course you buy the product in their warehouse .

Details of SquareTrade’s (Costco) Plan

Price: $99.99
Deductible: $25
Coverage Length: 2-years
Number of Replacements Allowed: 4 for the 2-year period
Time to add to the program: 30 days

Details of SquareTrade’s (regular) Plan

Price: $6.99/month (equivalent to $83.88/year) OR $125 for 2-years (a 25% savings)
Deductible: $99
Coverage Length: 1-5 years, depending on type of plan purchased
Number of Replacements Allowed: 1 – though in some cases, additional replacements are allowed if products are defective
Time to add the program: 30 days

What the Plan Covers

Loss: NO
Theft: NO
Accidental Damage: YES
Water Damage:  YES (including immersion)
Drops: YES
Mechanical Malfunction: YES
Electrical Malfunction: YES
Battery: YES, if the original rechargeable battery is defective.
Service Cost: Labor is included.

Type of Replacement: You will be given a new or refurbished product of equal features and functionality, or a cash settlement or a Gift Card reflecting the replacement cost of a new item of equal features and functionality up to the Coverage Amount.

Replacement Time: No guarantee of time. Submit claims online or by phone; if your phone can’t be fixed with troubleshooting, you’ll be directed to an authorized service center or given a free shipping label.

Cancellation Policy: You may cancel any time. Within the 30 days, you will receive a full refund; If you cancel after 30 days, you will receive a pro-rata refund based on the time remaining on your service agreement.

4. Apple Care

Since the Apple Care program is only available for the iPhone, other smartphone users can ignore this section. Keep in mind that even without Apple Care, you’ll get one year of hardware repair coverage through Apple’s limited warranty and up to 90 days of complimentary support (but you can’t decide to buy Apple Care after your one-year limited warranty has ended). One of the biggest drawbacks of the Apple Care program is that it does not cover loss or theft.

Details of Apple’s Apple Care Program

Price: $99 for 2 years (equivalent to $4.13 a month, but is not available on a monthly basis)
Deductible: $49
Coverage Length: 2 years
Number of Replacements Allowed: 2
Time to add the program: within 30 days of purchase

What the Plan Covers

Loss: NO
Theft: NO
Accidental Damage: YES
Water Damage: YES
Drops: YES
Mechanical Malfunction: YES
Electrical Malfunction: YES
Battery: YES, if depletion is 50% of more from original specification
Service Cost: Labor is included.

Type of Replacement: A phone that is new or equivalent to new in both performance and reliability

Replacement Time: For fastest service, bring your iPhone in to the Genius Bar at an Apple Store. Mail-in service is also available.

Cancellation Policy: You can cancel at any time for any reason. If you cancel within 30 days, you will receive a full refund less the value of any service  provided. After 30 days, you will receive a pro rata refund less a cancellation fee of $25 or 10% of the pro-rata amount, whichever is less.

3. Geek Squad

Geek Squad smartphone protection plan is offered through Best Buy, but is also available for smartphones purchased at other stores, provided that the products have been purchased within the last 30 days, are covered under a current manufacturer’s warranty, and are in new and working order. What makes this plan stand out is its convenient in-home service and its lack of deductible and cancellation fee. However, loss and theft are not covered.

Geek Squad’s Standard Plan extends your manufacturer warranty, but doesn’t cover much on its own; we recommend purchasing the Accidental Damage from Handling Coverage (ADH) plan for the best protection (you can compare the plans here).

Details of the Best Buy’s Geek Squad Protection Program

Price: $9.99/month (equivalent to  $119.88 a year)
Deductible: $0
Coverage Length: 1-5 years, depending on type of plan purchased
Number of Replacements Allowed: 1 – though in some cases, additional replacements are allowed if products are defective.
Time to add the program: 30 days

What the Plan Covers

Loss: NO
Theft: NO
Accidental Damage: YES, if the product was being used as intended
Water Damage: Spills: YES. Immersion: NO
Drops: YES, as long as the product did not drop from an elevated height such as a roof
Mechanical Malfunction: YES
Electrical Malfunction: YES
Battery: YES, if the original rechargeable battery is defective
Service: Labor is included.

Type of Replacement: You will be given a new or refurbished product of like kind and quality that is of comparable performance.

Replacement Time: You can schedule in-home service by phone or Internet 24-7.

Cancellation Policy: You may cancel at any time; you will receive a pro-rata refund of the price you paid for the Plan based on the percentage of the Plan’s unexpired term, less the cost of any service provided. If you cancel within 30 days, a full refund is given.

2. Protect Your Bubble

Protect Your Bubble covers loss and theft – and it can also be purchased within 12 months of buying your smartphone, as long as the phone is still under warranty (most plans only give you 30 days). You can also get 10% an additional plan if you want to buy one for a family member. The biggest drawback of the plan is its $120 deductible for iPhones; this plan is a better deal in conjunction with other smartphones.

Price: $7.99/month (equivalent to $95.88/year)
Deductible: $75 for basic phones; $100 for smartphones; $120 for iPhones
Coverage Length: 2 years (3 in NY)
Number of Replacements Allowed: 2 per year
Time to add the program: Within 12 months of purchase, as long as the phone is still under warranty

What the Plan Covers

Loss: YES
Theft: YES
Accidental Damage: YES
Water Damage: YES
Drops: YES
Mechanical Malfunction: YES
Electrical Malfunction: YES
Battery: YES
Service: Labor is included.

Type of Replacement: You will get a replacement of like kind and quality, but claimed devices may be repaired or replaced with new or refurbished equipment or a different model than the original equipment.

Replacement Time: PYB will ship your replacement device to you for next day delivery if your claim is approved by 8:00 pm.

Cancellation Policy: You have the right to cancel your coverage at any time without penalty and receive a refund of any applicable unearned premium.

1. Mobile Rhino

Mobile Rhino can be purchased at any time. Unlike Apple Care, Mobile Rhino covers loss and theft, and can be renewed year after year – but Mobile Rhino’s price and deductible are a bit high. Still, we’re rating Mobile Rhino’s plan #1 because it covers loss and theft. With most plans, you’ll be completely out of luck if you lose your phone – and that doesn’t seem worth a monthly fee.

Price: Personal: $129, Business:$119, Education:$99
Deductible: $99
Coverage Length: 1 year
Number of Replacements Allowed: 2 per year or $1000 worth of merchandise, whichever comes first
Time to add the program: May be purchased at any time

What the Plan Covers

Loss: YES
Theft: YES
Accidental Damage: YES
Water Damage: YES
Drops: YES
Mechanical Malfunction: YES
Electrical Malfunction: YES
Battery: YES
Service: Labor is included.

Type of Replacement: You will be given a replacement the same model as your phone; equipment may be reconditioned.

Replacement Time: You will get a replacement in 24-28 hours; if your claim is submitted and approved by 2pm CST, you will receive your replacement by 2pm CST the next day.

Cancellation Policy: You may cancel at any time; any unearned premium will be refunded in accordance with law.










Amanda Pendolino

 
Amanda has been writing for several entertainment, tech, shopping and business websites since 2009. A resident of Los Angeles, she also works as a screenwriter, script reader and tutor. She's obsessed with film and TV, and is not afraid to admit that her Samsung Galaxy SIII is her most prized possession.