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How Smart a Move Is It to Buy Mobile Phone Insurance?

July 16, 2014
3 mins
A young woman sends a message on her phone

We've all experienced that moment of dread and panic when we can't find our smartphone. What about the mad scramble back to the last spot we used it?

When reality sets in that it's gone, perhaps stolen, the sense of loss prompts us to take action. Some of us even resort to taking out smartphone insurance. Is that a wise decision?

Not everyone is convinced that it is necessary to purchase insurance for your cell phone even though getting a brand new replacement when it's lost, stolen or damaged makes total sense especially when it can cost $500 and up. For some, the manufacturer's warranty is usually good for a one year period and also protects you from loss, theft, damage and defects. Also, certain homewowner insurance policies covers lost or stolen property, so often its a duplicate service some consumers aren't fully aware of. Furthermore, apps using GPS navigation technology can be useful in tracking lost phones and the cell phone industry even has a registry called where stolen/lost phones can be reported to prevent illegal sales.

Even though the monthly cost is a reasonable $5-$10, which is not altogether unaffordable, it's the deductible that critics often take issue with. The "replacement fee" is usually $50 for lower end cell phones to $150 (or more) for smartphones or phablets. In a lot of cases, this may exceed the actual value of a phone, especially an older model, if you consider the accumulated monthly payments.

But peace-of-mind is something not to be overlooked and many people consider a smartphone an indispensable tool. Loss of a smartphone, even for part of a day, can represent a substantial loss of business and place sensitive information in the wrong hands.

Consider a recent experiment from Symantec Canada, which purposely lost 60 trackable smartphones filled with personal and corporate data across six Canadian cities. Symantec reported that 93% of lost smartphones were accessed by the finders of the devices and only 33 offers were received to help return them even though contact information was made easy to locate.

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