How to get cheap mobile phone insurance
Losing or damaging your phone can be a gut-wrenching experience. So how can you protect yourself (and your wallet) against such calamities?
It's likely your phone has been victim of some sort of trauma at one point in its life (and if we're being honest, more like multiple times, right?).
Whether it's being dropped down the loo at the pub and having to spend the night nestled in a bag of rice, or being kidnapped out of your pocket on a night out, no phone is safe – even in the hands of the most careful of owners.
That's why it's always smart to have some sort of mobile phone insurance to cover you in case of any mishaps – and it should only cost you a few quid a month.
This guide has all the deets you need to ensure you get the best value policy on the market!
What's in this guide?
This is something you'll have to decide for yourself, but there are a few important points worth considering that might make your decision a bit easier.
For example, how many times has your phone been lost, stolen or damaged in the past? Be honest now! If your answer is anything more than once a year, it might be worthwhile forking out for some coverage.
Another thing worth asking is how much longer will you be locked into your phone contract? If you're on a 12 month contract and due an upgrade in 3 months, the chances of something happening before you get a new phone are relatively slim?
By the same token, if you're one month into a 24-month contract, the chances of something happening in that time are far greater, so getting some insurance might come in handy.
It's all down to personal choice, but you can work out the odds and decide for yourself whether it's a worthwhile investment.
Could I already be covered?
If you've decided to spend a bit of cash on insuring the contents of your house in case anything happens, you might find that your mobile phone will already be covered.
You'll just need to check the small print of your contents insurance policy. However, it's worth pointing out that more often than not, your phone will only be covered by contents insurance if it's stolen or damaged while inside the property.
Given that these things tend to happen while you're out and about, this probably won't be of much use to you.
What's more, claiming for your phone through a contents insurance policy will result in your premiums going up when it's time to renew – and as contents insurance tends to be more expensive anyway, this could work out more costly than if you were to take out a phone insurance policy in the first place!
It's also worth checking to see if you're covered by your parents' contents insurance, and whether or not their policy offers the level of protection that you need.
What about self insurance?
So this might sound a bit far-fetched, but bear with us here!
Whilst paying out monthly for a policy will protect you if something goes wrong, what about if you make it to the end of your phone contract without having to make a single claim – where does all your cash go? Straight into the pocket of insurers, of course!
If you're a good saver, it could be a good alternative to put a few quid each month into a decent savings account instead. That way, you can be smug in the thought that nobody else is getting their hands on your hard-earned cash, and you can use it towards your phone however you see fit.
Not all insurance policies are the same, so it's important you know exactly what you're letting yourself in for.
The two main things to understand about your phone insurance are what will be covered and what the excess is.
Phone insurance will normally cover you for loss, damage and theft – sometimes the entire package, but normally with a few exceptions.
For example, some policies might not cover you if you lose your phone while away on holiday, while others won't cover you for loss at all and will only pay out if it gets stolen.
There's always the potential danger of under-insuring (where you won't be protected for stuff like water damage, when this is one of the biggest phone-killers) or over-insuring (where you stump up needlessly for a policy that protects your phone in the event of fire damage – aka not very likely).
The ‘excess' on an insurance policy is basically the sum you agree to pay upfront before your insurance provider covers the rest.
Let's imagine your phone is worth £300. If your excess is £50, you'll receive £250 if it's broken, lost or stolen. You might then think ‘surely I just opt for a lower excess so the insurer will pay out more if something happens to my phone', right?
Well, unfortunately, the lower the excess you choose to pay, the more you'll be charged for your insurance policy (annoying, we know). For that reason, it's worth thinking carefully about what you can realistically afford, and how likely you are to have to make a claim.
If you think the chances of having to make a claim for your phone are extremely low, opting for a higher excess will keep your monthly payments low, but in the event that something does happen, do you really want to have to shell out big time just to save a quid or two each month?
Whatever your opinion on this is, it's often the case that you won't even get to choose your excess and monthly payments, but rather be told what your monthly set-up will be when you apply for the policy.
Before you sign up to anything, there are a few important questions worth asking in order to clarify any small print – particularly concerning what exactly is covered by your policy.
Here are a few to consider:
- If my phone is damaged, will it be repaired or will I be sent a new one?
In the case of a damaged phone, different insurance providers will offer different solutions. Some will replace it with a similar model, some will ask for it to be sent off for repair, and some will offer a cash sum.
- Will I need to pay the excess in full before I can claim?
Mobile phone cover is slightly different to other types of insurance, as more often than not you'll be asked to pay the excess upfront before your claim can be settled (sometimes in a lump sum; sometimes in instalments for the rest of your contract).
- Is there a claims limit?
Watch out for the number of times you can claim in a year, as some insurers will only allow you to make two successful claims every 12 months. Obviously, this is not ideal if you're clumsy or a bit disaster prone.
- Am I covered for any calls made after the phone is stolen?
It's not just the cost of the handset that you need to think about. If someone else is using your phone, the bill could run into the hundreds of pounds. Some policies protect you against up to £2,000 of unauthorised calls, but others don't. Always call your service provider as soon as you find out you've lost your phone – this will also be proof when you make your claim. If you don't, you could be accountable for the charges.
- Does my phone fit the bill?
Strangely, some policies only cover phones that are less than six or twelve months old. Where you bought your phone from can also determine if you're allowed a policy, as can whether or not it's been refurbished before. Ask if this is the case before you take out any policy!
Deals vary from one bank to another, so don't just automatically assume that it's the best option.
Barclays offer one of the cheapest options, coming in at £114 per year with a £100 excess for an iPhone for loss and theft (£50 for damage), or £50 on other phones (£25 for damage).
One of the nicest features is the protection against any thief making unauthorised calls on your contract. The policy would settle any bill of up to £2,000 that was racked up without your knowledge.
Do bear in mind that you'll often need to activate the insurance before it's valid, and it will often take longer to get a new phone than if you went with another specialist provider.
Protect Your Bubble
Protect Your Bubble offer cheap but good value mobile insurance that's ideal for students.
Prices start at just £7.99 per month, but will cover you for the most common mishaps, as well as water damage and the dreaded shattered screen!
You're limited to 2 claims for loss or theft per year, but you can make as many claims as you like when it comes to damage/repairs.
However, they'll only insure your phone if it's under a year old, and they do have some conditions in order to qualify concerning where you bought your phone from originally. More details are available on the website!
The guys at Endsleigh specialise in insuring students, so you can (in theory!) be confident that you'll get a good deal here.
The price per month varies depending on what level of cover you go for, but they deal with plenty of students and are recommended by the NUS, so it shouldn't be too expensive!
One of Endsleigh's selling points is that a new phone will always be provided within one working day – so it's a great option if you can't bear to be out of touch for too long.
They're also happy to ensure any phone that's less than three years old – so this is the company to go for if you've had your phone for a while.
As well as laptops and other gadgets, Endsleigh also offers insurance for your belongings, so you could get a good deal by sorting them out all together.
If you're looking for a degree of flexibility in exactly what you want covered and are looking for cheap as chips prices, it's well worth nosing around at Insurance2go.
You can cover an iPhone from as little as £4.99 a month for loss and theft, or £54.99 a year if you pay up front (almost a fiver discount).
If you're keen to cover in case of damage too, you'll pay around £7.49 per month, or £79.99 (saving of almost £10 if you pay annually).
Bonus points for the fact that they include £150 accessory cover too!
Another gadget insurance specialist, Gadget Cover boasts a range of offers including your first month free, unlimited claims and cover that starts as soon as the policy is taken out.
Gadget Cover offer a low excess of £50 on phones worth up to £500 (when new), rising to £75 for anything that cost more than £500 when it was bought.
They also dish out e-wallet cover (which means Apple Pay and the like), and a healthy £2,500 unauthorised usage coverage in case your phone is stolen and you're presented with a crazy bill for calls and data usage.
Your own network
Most mobile phone networks will offer their own insurance policies too, and they'll probably try to sell it to you when you're buying your phone.
Although it's tempting to take them up on the offer as it's convenient to get it all done at once, beware that their prices are significantly more expensive than the alternatives.
That said, there is one major argument in favour of mobile networks' own insurance: how quickly they'll replace your phone. If your network has shops on the high street, you can usually just go in, make your claim, and if approved, they should give you a replacement straight away.
- Be careful…er! – It goes without saying, but the best way to save money on your phone insurance is to try to take better care of it! The fewer claims you make, the better, and some insurers offer no-claims bonuses which will reduce your spending even more.
- Always compare – Make sure you explore all your options. Specialists do tend to be the cheapest option, but you may already be covered by contents insurance, or you might come across a great deal elsewhere. Spending some extra time on research can really pay off.
- Pay up front in a lump sum – If you can afford to, paying up front for your policy rather than spreading the cost over the year can mean a tidy saving. Most providers will offer a discount if you choose to do this, and it also helps you to resist the temptation of cancelling midway through when times get tight (only for your phone to get nicked the next day!).
- Know your policy – Mobile phone insurance can seem complicated, but make sure you read the small print and know exactly what you're paying for, as well as being fully aware of what would happen in the event of your phone being damaged or going missing. The last thing you want is to discover you aren't covered when it's too late.
- Don't be afraid to haggle – The price you're first quoted isn't always the final offer. When it comes to renewing, you should always haggle. As a loyal customer, you deserve a discount! And if you're not confident in the art of haggling, check out our expert guide.
- Back up your data regularly – If your phone is ever stolen or broken to a point where you can't use it at all, you could lose everything that's stored on the phone. By regularly backing up your data, you'll be able to make sure that you won't lose the majority of your photos, contacts, and all the rest!
Have you found a great (cheap!) phone insurance policy worth shouting about? Please fill us in by leaving a comment!