Paying an extra $5 to $11 per month for month-to-month phone insurance might sound tempting -- especially now that the big wireless carriers have ditched contracts and subsidized phones, and you're paying upfront for a new iPhone 7.
But it's not that simple. First of all, month-to-month phone insurance isn't the great deal it sounds like -- that relatively low monthly fee is only part of the cost you'll pay if your phone is damaged, lost or stolen. For each claim you file, you'll pay a deductible of $50 to $ (unless it's an old-school flip phone, assume that price is going to be $), and most insurance companies only let you file up to two claims per year. Also, if you tend to drop your phone and break the screen -- but nothing else -- insurance may not be worth it because screens can be surprisingly cheap to replace.
So, should you get month-to-month phone insurance? Probably not, but let's take a look at the available plans before we answer that question in more detail.
There are two ways to get month-to-month phone insurance: You can purchase it from your wireless carrier, in which case you'll simply pay the premium as an add-on to your wireless bill, or you can purchase it directly from a third-party insurance company such as SquareTrade.
The main difference between the two is that carrier-provided insurance usually covers device malfunction, damage, loss and theft, while SquareTrade covers only malfunction and damage. Many carriers, including Verizon and AT&T, offer plans through the third-party insurance company Asurion.
Verizon offers four protection tiers. The top tier, called Total Mobile Protection (TMP), costs $11 per month for one phone or $33 per month for three devices on one account. It protects against device malfunction, damage, loss and theft; and carries a $49 - $ deductible depending on the device. Verizon's deductibles tend to be a little lower -- most high-end Android phones won't hit the $ deductible. TMP offers the same protection as the second-highest tier, Total Equipment Coverage (TEC), but TMP includes a tech coach feature, which basically means you can chat with Verizon about your device. You don't need this.
TEC costs $9 per device per month for phones and combines the two lower tiers: Asurion Wireless Phone Protection, which costs $ per month for phones and protects against everything except device malfunction, and Verizon's Wireless Extended Warranty, which costs $3 per month for phones, protects against device malfunction.
AT&T offers two tiers of protection -- the top tier, which costs $ per month per enrolled number (or $ per month for up to three devices), protects against device malfunction, loss, theft and damage. It offers some extra features such as "as soon as next-day replacement," tech support and 50GB of "secure content storage." The lower tier, which costs $ per month per enrolled number, offers the protection without the fancy features (no next-day replacement, tech support or 50GB of storage for you). Both plans carry a $50, $ or $ deductible, depending on the device. Unlike Verizon, however, AT&T rewards you for not filing claims -- you get a deductible discount of between 25 and 50 percent if you haven't filed a claim in the last six months or 12 months.
Sprint offers a two-tiered insurance plan. Tike Verizon and AT&T's, the top tier ($13 per month) simply includes tech support and device tutorials. Sprint's insurance costs $9 to $11 per month, depending on which deductible tier your device is in. There are four deductible tiers: $50, $, $ and $ Most phones will be in the top two deductible tiers and will therefore cost $11 a month. Like Verizon and AT&T, Sprint uses Asurion -- so its plan covers device malfunction, damage, loss and theft.
T-Mobile's insurance costs $10 per device per month and protects against malfunction, damage, loss and theft. The plan includes a $20 to $ deductible; most high-end phones will end up costing between $ and $ to replace. T-Mobile also offers an enhanced protection package for $12 per month that includes Lookout Mobile Security Premium. If you're already enrolled in T-Mobile's JUMP program ($12 a month), which lets you upgrade your phone once you've paid off 50 percent of its cost, insurance is included.
SquareTrade is one of the most popular third-party insurance providers, and it's cheaper than most carrier-provided options. But it also offers less -- you won't be protected against loss or theft. SquareTrade plans are priced yearly: For a current phone, you can expect to pay $89 per year, $ for two years or $ for three years. All claims are subject to a $99 deductible. You can save a little (about $10 per phone) if you get a "family plan" covering multiple devices at once. Because the company only covers damage, it will repair your phone -- not replace it. In the event that your phone is damaged beyond repair, SquareTrade will give you money to replace it with a refurbished phone.
Should you get phone insurance or not?
This is a difficult question to answer, because it really depends on you. If you live in an area where phone theft is rampant, or you're the type of person who's likely to lose your phone, carrier-sanctioned phone insurance could save you hundreds of dollars. But if you're just clumsy, you may not come out ahead. Apple will fix an iPhone 6S screen for $99 if it's still under warranty or covered by Apple Care+ -- that's less than a year's worth of Verizon insurance.
Month-to-month phone insurance comes with low premiums, high deductibles and a limit on claims (Asurion lets you make two claims per year, with a cap of $1, per claim). If you make one claim per year, you'll pay between $ and $ for a new phone -- and the phone may not even be new. The insurance company has the right to choose whether they want to repair your phone or replace it with one of equal value, which means you're likely to get a refurbished phone instead of a brand new one. If your phone is more than a year old, phone insurance makes no sense because older high-end phones are subject to the same deductibles as newer ones.
Device-specific insurance isn't your only option. If you purchased your phone with a credit card, your credit card company may offer an extended warranty that covers device malfunctions once the manufacturer's warranty expires. Also, if you pay your phone bill with a credit card, your credit card company may offer some protection against loss or theft -- my Wells Fargo card offers $ worth of protection, subject to a $25 deductible, against damage or theft. If you have renter's insurance, your phone is most likely covered in your policy -- though renter's insurance is usually subject to a higher deductible ($+) per claim.
For most people, month-to-month phone insurance is a bad idea. You're better off extending the manufacturer's warranty or buying Apple Care+.
Editors' note: This How-To article was originally published on December 29, and was updated on December 26, to reflect new information.
File a claim FAQs
If you aren't sure if you're enrolled in a device protection option or which one you have, go to the Add-ons and Apps page in My Verizon to see your add-ons. If you have more than one device on your account, select the device you want to verify device protection for.
You'll see one of the following device protection options listed in your features if you have one:
- Verizon Mobile Protect
- Verizon Mobile Protect Multi-Device
- Total Equipment Coverage
- Wireless Phone Protection
- Verizon Extended Warranty*
Note: In New York (or customers with a New York billing address) the following device protection options are available: Verizon Protect, Verizon Protect Multi-Device, Verizon Protect Business, Total Mobile Protection, Total Mobile Protection Multi-Device, Total Mobile Protection Multi-Device for Business, Total Equipment Coverage, Wireless Phone Protection and Extended Warranty.
*Verizon Extended Warranty provides coverage for device malfunctions that are the result of a mechanical or electrical failure post-warranty after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Verizon Extended Warranty is not available in Florida or for Florida customers. In Florida, coverage for post-warranty defect is provided by the insurance program (device replacement deductible and claim limits apply).
If you're not enrolled in device protection, refer to our How to replace a lost, stolen or broken device page for replacement options based on the issue you're experiencing.
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Verizon Mobile Protect* has you covered
1. Available for approved insurance claims in select locations, which are subject to change at any time, contingent on certain criteria including claim approval time, customer location, and technician availability. Select smartphones, subject to inventory availability. Eligibility determined at time of claim approval. Replacement device could be new or refurbished. This benefit is provided by Wireless Phone Protection.
2. Available in select locations and for select devices, which are subject to change at any time. Applies to new devices purchased on verizon.com, if presented at the time of device purchase, and is contingent on certain criteria, including device purchase time, device availability, customer location, and technician availability. This benefit is provided by Mobile Secure.
3. Security Advisor does not provide real-time notification of sensitive data exposure; virus/malware removal; home network hacking mitigation; or data loss management. A smartphone is required to download the Digital Secure app; features included vary by device. This benefit is provided by Mobile Secure.
4. Smartphones that only have a cracked front screen are eligible; damage beyond a front cracked screen is not eligible for cracked screen repair. Available in select locations, which are subject to change at any time. Availability of same day repair depends on criteria such as claim approval time, technician availability, and subject to parts availability. Repairs are performed by an Asurion-certified technician and come with a month warranty. Visit phoneclaim.com/verizon to check current device eligibility. Eligibility determined at time of insurance claim approval. This benefit is provided by Wireless Phone Protection.
5. Digital Secure: A smartphone is required to download the Digital Secure app. Select features may be accessed on tablets and computers. OS restrictions apply: Android + & iOS 11+. Enroll in identity theft monitoring via the app. Verizon does not monitor all transactions and cannot protect against all identity theft. Customer should contact the three national credit bureaus to monitor credit report. Call Filter Plus: Compatible smartphone required; features included vary by device. Tablets, smart watches and basic phones not supported. The following OS requirements apply: Android + and iOS +. High-risk spam calls are automatically blocked and forwarded to voicemail. Download the Call Filter app to manage all settings and access custom controls. These benefits are included in Mobile Secure.
6. Repair provided under Verizon's Extended Warranty is available for select smartphones, in select locations, subject to parts and technician availability. Eligibility for repair will be determined at the point of Extended Warranty claim. If a repair option is not available for your model smartphone, you will be offered a replacement device and the Extended Warranty $49 replacement fee will be waived. Verizon Extended Warranty is not available in Florida or for Florida customers. In Florida, extended warranty coverage is provided by the insurance program (device replacement deductible and claim limit apply). This benefit is provided by Verizon Extended Warranty.
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Total Equipment Coverage
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- Damage, including liquid damage
- Mechanical or electrical defects after the manufacturer's warranty expires
- Damage, including liquid damage
- Mechanical or electrical defects after the manufacturer's warranty expires
Total Equipment Coverage not available in Florida. Wireless Phone Protection is underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company or one of its insurance company affiliates. Asurion Insurance Services, Inc. is the agent and provides claims servicing under this program. The obligor of the Extended Warranty program is Verizon Wireless Services, LLC. Wireless Phone Protection and Extended Warranty are also available separately.
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and Verizon Wireless, along with cell phone insurance provider Asurion that may be provided, (4) applicable limits on the number or value of claims, and (5)
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