If you've been a good little boy or girl, it's a fair bet Santa might've pulled something vaguely smartphone-shaped out of his bulging sack for you this Christmas. If you're a clumsy little fellow though, (or live in horrible, wet, rainy England), you're probably going to want to insure your shiny new toy. Here are your best options.
There are a number of different ways to insure handsets -- we've tried to explore all the mainstream ones, and highlight the best product in each category. Before you rush out to buy a new policy though, it's worth checking if your gadgets might fall under home insurance or insurance from your bank account -- you might already be covered, and just need to register your new gizmos, rather than splashing the cash.
There's a decent chance that if you have a comprehensive home insurance policy, your gadgets will already be covered. There's a few things to check here, though. First off is what's covered -- most policies will only cover theft from your house, or damage through a house fire. If you're as careless as me, it's worth looking for a comprehensive policy. You want to be covered not only for theft, but also accidental damage (including water damage) and outright loss of the device.
There's a few other serious problems with home insurance as well. Often, home insurance has a fairly high excess, in the region of hundreds of pounds. If you're trying to insure a smartphone, an excess of, say, £500 (which is not uncommon) would mean you get a paltry payout of a couple of quid if your phone gets nicked -- not really worth the hassle. Moreover, if you claim on your home insurance, you'll lose any no-claims bonus, and might see your policy go up the next year.
Finally, for mobile phones, home insurance normally won't cover extra charges racked up on a stolen handset. There are some horror stories out there about scumbags nicking phones and then running up bills into thousands of pounds.
So, home insurance is convenient, and possibly a good safety net if it's already included in your plan. If you're a real clutz though, a dedicated gadget insurance policy is probably more up your street.
Another way of getting insurance is through your bank. Often, "premium" current accounts -- ones you have to actually pay for -- offer lots of nice extras, like travel cover, breakdown cover and, you guessed it, mobile phone insurance.
Your best bet in bank accounts is most likely the Co-op Premium bank account -- £9.50 gets you worldwide travel cover and mobile phone insurance for four phones (max value of £1000 per handset). The excess is acceptably low at £25 (£50 for iPhones), and it's a comprehensive policy that covers everything, including £2000 of calls if your phone is stolen. All in all, a pretty damn good deal.
If you don't want to switch banks just to get insurance though, most premium bank accounts will give you mobile phone insurance for a fee -- check this list for more details. Worth saying, though, that many banks require you to register your mobile phone before it's eligible for claims. Quite sneaky, so it's something you should check with your individual bank.
If you've been into a mobile phone shop to buy a new handset (you poor thing), chances are you've had the sales person try to ram insurance down your throat at the same time. Network insurance tends to be really rather expensive; you're looking at monthly costs of about £10 for a high-end smartphone, plus an excess around £50.
There is one benefit of going with your network though: the insurers are quick to get you a replacement handset. If your phone is vital to your work, or you can't handle a day away from Instagram, then this is the best way of getting a phone by the next day. Also, it's minimum-hassle, as the policy is set up at the same time as signing away your life on the phone contract, so no need to register phones here.
There is, of course, another way. It's possible to take out mobile phone insurance from any manner of third party, from shady internet companies to reputable insurers. The sort of coverage varies drastically between them, however, so read the policy carefully to check what you're getting into.
From extensive digging around, though, the best policy we've found is from the slightly dodgily-named helpucover. (Although they're shadily named, their policies are underwritten by Allianz Insurance, one of the world's biggest insurers, so it's not just some kid in a bedroom with a laptop and a pile of cash.)
Their policy is a flat £10 a month (first month free), for which you get cover on an unlimited number of gadgets, up to a value of £1500 per item. The cover includes not just smartphones, but also cameras, tablets and laptops -- all things that can get quite easily damaged. The policy covers a household, not just an individual, so if you live with your whole family, this is by far and away the cheapest way of insuring all your gadgets. Once again, the coverage is comprehensive, with all manner of damage, theft or loss covered, including mobile phone bills racked up after the handset's stolen (up to £2000). Oh, and there's no excess.
Bottom line is, if your phone, camera, tablet, laptop, or really expensive electric toothbrush gets pinched (you never know what that Tooth Fairy will get up to), you'll get a replacement device. For my money, this is the best insurance policy for any kind of technophile who carries a bunch of expensive electronics round with him/her on a daily basis.
- Home insurance -- you might already be covered under home insurance, but the excess is normally as high as the bloody mobile itself, and coverage is rarely comprehensive. Only recommended if you're not clumsy/already have a very good home insurance policy.
- Network insurance -- good if you need a replacement phone the very next day, but otherwise overpriced.
- Bank account -- if you've got a bank account with a good policy, this is a sound option. Normally an economical way of getting mobile phone insurance, in addition to other worthwile perks. Co-op is the best bank to go with, if you're starting with a blank slate.
- Third-Party Insurers -- the cheapest way to get insurance, but be very careful about who you're buying from, and what's in the policy. My best buy is helpucover, who have a comprehensive, no-excess policy for £10 a month that covers all the gadgets in your household. Need to register gadgets however.