Insurance for gadgets is a subject which can divide many people’s opinions. Some believe in covering their most important devices separately and completely, others put all their technological eggs into one protective basket whilst the more risky choose not to bother with insurance at all. With top of the range smartphones now costing more than the average home desktop computer and their portable nature putting them at an inherently higher risk than other expensive gadgetry you may own, some argue that even a basic level of insurance is a necessity.
Let’s have a look at the options.
Manufacturer’s warranty – no insurance
All devices will come with at least one year’s warranty and some will come with two or more. Many people use this as a safety blanket under the belief that their device will be repaired or replaced if there is a problem and choose not to protect their device in any other manner. This is true up to a point but there are pitfalls. Your current writer spent a good few years working with computers and laptops for a major UK retailer and anyone with experience of the same knows the inner workings of any warranty for a piece of modern technology can be confusing at best. With smartphones now being ever increasingly complex computers with powerful software running them, the nature of your warranty may not cover everything you imagine.
You will of course be covered for any natural defect with the hardware of the device, that was not caused by your own fault or negligence like excessive overheating or the screen stops working for instance. You should also be covered for bugs with the software that are not your fault such as constant rebooting.
The problem with warranty covering software it is difficult to know where the user could be to blame. Did you root the device and install a custom ROM? If so your warranty is probably void (although not always). Did you install a dodgy app from a 3rd party vendor? Maybe you’re covered… The list is endless and in the past I’ve seen manufacturers refuse laptop repairs because the user has a virus or installed something that modified standard system parameters without their knowledge.
This isn’t meant to be scaremongering but simply a short insight into warranty and how it is not too difficult to fall afoul of it. Of course it should come as no surprise that physical damage from the phone being dropped, knocked or getting wet generally invalidates any warranty, even if the unit can be repaired – the infamous Apple litmus tests for iPods / iPhones being an example. If you insist on using the manufacturer’s warranty with no other protection then I recommend a good quality protective case!
Many network operators provide their customers with opportunities to purchase insurance. Anyone buying a phone from a retail store has probably been subject to the sales patter at some point. They can seem quite expensive but once added to the cost of your monthly contract plus data plan etc. may not be too much of an addition and is easy to manage as part of one bill. As a bonus those of you on business contracts may find the insurance has a reduced price as a benefit. Also you may find that your network operator is willing to sell you a policy for your handset even if you didn’t purchase it from them.
Depending on the network’s level of customer service quick turnarounds for repairs and / or replacements and specialist knowledge of devices can be a fine selling point as can the the inclusion of a loan handset whilst yours is away.
Your network operator is also directly linked to your phone. They know your IMEI, phone model, standard usage etc. all as part of the information they are required to gather. This is usually great for personalised interaction or location based services – some of the best network run insurance policies offer the ability to remotely lock out and / or track your phone just like some of the security apps and products available on the open market.
Bank / Home insurance
If you have a home insurance policy (perhaps through your bank) you may have contents cover and this could extend to your phone. This can be a very simple way to cover your device as it is included on a list of items that the bank agree to cover and you may not even realise you have the option to add your phone until you ask. The inclusion may come at no extra cost to the home insurance premium and therefore be the cheapest method of ensuring your device has some level of protection.
The downside to most bank insurances is that they are not specialised for your phone or other devices that are covered. Everything within the policy will generally be given a value and you are unlikely to get repairs, replacements or loans, simply a pay out to either purchase something new or pay for the repair yourself.
Plenty of 3rd party insurance companies such as protectyourbubble.com offer policies that are more specialised towards specific gadgets or electronics in general – phones, laptops, mp3 players etc. If you have more than one handset or a few high end gadgets that you want to protect, these companies can be a very good option. The perks of these types of policies over say bank / home insurance is that there is a better likelihood that your device can be repaired or replaced and possibly even the data on the device can be protected and saved as the policy should be more attuned to the fact that you are covering technology and not just be applying a value to a product.
There are certainly many options to ensure your device is protected, each with varying degrees of cover however the onus of course always remains with the user. Personally I don’t cover my current handset but as I am looking at an upgrade to a much more expensive ‘power’ device in the coming months or perhaps even a tablet I think I may take the plunge as the possible risks (and my own clumsy nature!) are in my view too great to ignore and so I will most likely find a decent 3rd party policy to bundle together my phone, laptop and TV if possible.
What are your thoughts? Do you have a separate policy to cover your phone(s) or other gadgets? Have you had good and bad experiences with certain companies, manufacturer’s warranties or network operators? Let us know below!