Should You Pop for Smartphone Insurance?

According to a recent Gallup poll, 81 percent of U.S. smartphone owners spend most of the day with that phone in tow, with 63 percent staying attached even during sleep time. In other words, people really hate being without a smartphone.

It's downright addictive—but pricey, too. That's probably why smartphone insurance is so enticing.

The idea of a broken, lost, or stolen phone may be too much to bare, in more ways than one. After all, the cost to replace a smartphone averages around $567, making a few measly dollars for insurance seem worth the cost.

Don't sign on that dotted line just yet, though. Most smartphone insurance plans aren't really worth it, says Matt Paliafito, senior category manager at Batteries Plus Bulbs. "Consumers should only go the one-time repair route, especially as repair options become more widely accessible, quick, and convenient," says Paliafito. "With the repair option, the customer only needs to pay for what they need."

And that's usually not too painful, when you consider that a one-time iPhone screen repair costs anywhere from $80 to $130. Insurance plans, on the other hand, start around $10 per month. That's a minimum of $120 year for a security blanket. Even worse, many insurance plan may have a deductible, which adds to the cost.

"It's common for insurance programs to charge the customer a monthly deductible, as well as a per occurrence fee," says Paliafito. "For example, a plan may cost $10 per month ($120 per year), with a $100 or more deductible when the phone is broken."

That's a lot of money, especially when you consider the chance of using that plan. A recent Consumer Reports poll found that only 15 percent of buyers get new phones because the old one broke, with just 2 percent saying that purchase was due to the phone being lost or stolen.

Also know that many smartphone plans don't cover loss or certain types of mishaps. And even if you are guaranteed service, you may not get your old phone repaired or an entirely new device. Many smartphone insurance plans opt to replace your broken or lost phone with a refurbished model.

If you're still worried about what could go wrong, make sure you do a little bit of research before signing on for smartphone insurance. Besides what's listed above, here are a few questions to ask:

  1. Is your phone covered? Some third-party companies will not cover Android phones, while others won't work with an iPhone.
  2. Is there a term limit or cancellation policy?
  3. In case of an emergency, how long will I be without a phone?

Paliafito says that the average iPhone repair takes 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the damage and number of waiting customers.

Batteries Plus Bulbs is one of the many places currently offering inexpensive smartphone repair. With over 700 stores nationwide, the company has seen its share of smartphone repairs. Paliafito says that cracked screens are the most common repair request, but the company also helps with dead batteries, water damage, broken ports and buttons, and bad Wi-Fi functionality. All Batteries Plus Bulbs repair services also come with a six-month warranty, as part of the repair price.

If you've lost a phone to theft or clumsiness before, having peace of mind may be worth the cost of smartphone insurance. For everyone else, make sure you weigh the options before signing up for a service. It probably isn't worth the extra monthly fee.