Is Cellphone Insurance Worth It? What You Need to Know

If you've ever dropped your phone in the toilet or cracked the screen you know how easy it is to damage a very expensive and seemingly essential possession. Here's how to tell if insurance is the answer.

Is Cellphone Insurance Worth It? What You Need to Know Photo by cunaplus / Shutterstock.com

This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com.

Most of us, maybe all of us, have been there — dropping a phone directly on the sidewalk, or into the toilet. And smartphones just aren’t as tough as our old trusty Nokia phones circa 1999. This is one reason carriers always push you to buy an insurance plan when you start a new line with them. It may seem like a typical salesperson practicing their up-selling skills, but maybe it’s actually worth the money.

Here we take a look at each of the four big carriers’ basic level cellphone insurance plans and compare the value over the benefits.

Insurance plans compared

Signing up for an insurance plan for your cellphone doesn’t mean all of your repairs or replacements will be free. It’s important to know what each specific carrier’s insurance plan covers and how much you’ll need to pay. The tables below show what you’ll pay for insurance, repairs and replacements for two of the most popular cellphones — the Apple iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy S9.

(Note: All pricing is accurate as of October 2018 and compares each carrier’s basic insurance plan only — covering accidental damage, loss and theft.)

iPhone 8 Insurance Costs and Deductibles

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon AppleCare+*
Monthly insurance cost $8.99 $15 $14 $6.75 $5.99
Cost of screen repair $49 $29 $29 $149 $29
Cost of other accidental damage $225 $99 $99 $149 $99
Cost of replacement $225 $99 $249 $149 $199
Max approved claims per year 2/year 3/year 2/year 3/year 2 in 2 years
  • With “Theft and Loss”

Samsung Galaxy S9 Insurance Costs and Deductibles

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon
Monthly insurance cost $8.99 $15 $13 $6.75
Cost of screen repair $49 $115 $149 $149
Cost of other accidental damage $225 $225 $149 $149
Cost of replacement $225 $225 $149 $149
Max approved claims 2/year 3/year 2/year 3/year

Typical repair and replacement costs

The above information on insurance costs and deductibles isn’t very helpful when you don’t know how much it would cost to repair or replace these phones without insurance, right? Here is what you’d pay either Apple or Samsung to have your phone repaired or replaced without coverage.

Apple iPhone 8 (64GB) Samsung Galaxy S9
Screen repair $149 $219
Other damage $349 Varies
Replacement $599 $719

Is insurance worth it?

This really depends on how often you drop your phone and how likely you think it would be for you to damage it. Let’s compare AT&T’s cost of insurance against the cost of repairing your iPhone 8 without insurance. Let’s say you had your iPhone 8 for a year and then dropped it. This is how much you would have paid for one year’s worth of insurance plus the deductible cost of fixing your phone, compared with not having insurance:

Screen repair:

  • With insurance: $156.88
  • Without insurance: $149

Other damage:

  • With insurance: $332.88
  • Without insurance: $349

If you need to replace your iPhone 8, that’s where the insurance will really start to kick in and help out. But if you’re not really one to drop your phone on the ground or in water all that often, then insurance may actually not be worth it.

Of course, cellphone insurance usually covers 100 percent of all mechanical or electronic breakdown of the phone. So there are some benefits, but if your cellphone is faulty, it’s common for the manufacturer to offer a replacement for free or conduct a recall if all phones are deemed faulty (let’s not forget the Samsung Galaxy Note7 saga of 2016).

How to save money on your cellphone plan

Your cellphone plan doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many affordable plans out there that won’t hurt your wallet. Some tips to save money on your cellphone plan include:

  • Reconsider buying phone insurance
  • Switch to a cheaper provider
  • Take advantage of special deals
  • Don’t forget about the little guys! (MVNOs offer cheap prepaid options all running on the major networks.)

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