Apple announced three new iPhone models and an updated version of the Apple Watch on Wednesday.
The most notable announcement was the release of the iPhone Xr, a new model with an aluminum body instead of stainless steel, a less-advanced screen, and a single lens camera in place of the dual lens cameras other models include. What do you get for this downgrade in quality? Additional color options and a reduced price tag.
The iPhone Xr starts at $749 for the 64GB device—$250 less than the iPhone Xs ($999) and $350 less than the iPhone Xs Max ($1,099). But no matter which option you choose, you're making a significant investment in a device that, for many people, will serve as a high-tech pacifier for a screaming toddler in the middle of the grocery store.
If you do regularly hand your thousand-dollar device to your child, if you've ever left it on the car roof or if you've ever dropped it in the toilet, you might be a good candidate for iPhone insurance.
Is insurance included with my iPhone?
When you buy a new iPhone, it comes with one year of limited hardware repair coverage and 90 days of complimentary tech support. This warranty should protect you if there's a manufacturer's defect with your device.
But if you want to protect your iPhone from accidental drops, scratched or cracked screens, water damage or theft, you'll need a seperate iPhone insurance policy. Here are a few of the best options available to you.
Apple offers two insurance options that go beyond their standard limited warranty: AppleCare+ and AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss. You can purchase either of these policies within 60 days of buying your new iPhone, and they provide coverage until two years from the original purchase date of your iPhone.
AppleCare+ insures your device against up to two incidents of accidental damage, and it includes an express replacement service, so you can have a new device in hand as soon as possible.
One of the main critiques of AppleCare+ has been the lack of any coverage if your phone is lost or stolen. That's why Apple recently introduced AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss. This enhanced policy provides the same coverage the standard policy offers, plus coverage if you lose your phone or somebody takes it.
Members of Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program get AppleCare+ coverage included with their membership, and they also have the option to upgrade to AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss for an extra $4.16 per month.
How much does AppleCare+ cost?
Here are the policy prices for the most recent iPhone models.
|iPhone model||AppleCare+||AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss|
|iPhone Xs & Xs Max||$199||$299|
|iPhone Xr, 8 Plus & 7 Plus||$149||$249|
|iPhone 7 & 8||$129||$199|
Unfortunately, Apple's iPhone insurance policies don't come cheap. You'll pay as much as 30% of the cost of your phone just to obtain the policy, but that price doesn't include the service charges you'll owe if you actually use your policy. Here are the deductibles Apple charges if you file a claim.
|Incidents covered||AppleCare+ service fees||AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss deductibles|
|Any other accidental damage||$99||$99|
|Theft or loss||Not available|
Cell phone insurance through your credit card
Depending on the card you use to pay for your monthly phone bill, you may already have limited cell phone coverage. For example, if you use the Chase Ink Business Preferred Card, and if your phone isn't already listed on any other insurance policy, you'll be covered for up to $600 if your phone is damaged or stolen. You're limited to three claims per 12-month period and a $100 deductible per claim.
Most Wells Fargo credit cards, such as the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card, also offer cell phone insurance.
If you pay your phone bill with an eligible Wells Fargo card, you'll be insured up to the same amount—$600 per claim—if your phone is damaged or stolen. Unlike the Chase Ink Business Preferred card, you're only eligible to make two claims per 12-month period, but the deductible for each claim is just $25. This makes the Wells Fargo coverage significantly more valuable for minor repairs, such as a replaced screen, which typically costs less than $150.
How does this compare to AppleCare+ Theft and Loss?
The biggest benefit of cell phone insurance through your credit card is the fact that the coverage is free. This prevents you from spending hundreds of dollars on coverage that you might not ever use. But it's important to understand two limitations of credit card coverage.
First, even if the credit card you use to pay your monthly phone bill includes cell phone insurance, it probably doesn't cover loss. If your phone is intentionally stolen, you should be insured. But if you forget it somewhere or it simply disappears and you have no solid explanation for what happened, your credit card company would likely deny your claim.
Second, credit card cell phone insurance is not primary coverage. This means that it will only apply if don't have already carry AppleCare+ and your phone isn't insured by any other policy.
iPhone insurance through your carrier
You also have the option to purchase mobile insurance through your carrier. Carrier insurance policies typically provide the same coverage offered through AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss, but they may cost less.
The specifics of your policy would vary based on your network provider. For example, AT&T's Mobile Insurance policy is currently priced at $8.99 per month. This includes a standard screen repair deductible of $49 for all recent models, and a replacement deductible of $299 for the iPhone X. You can make two claims per 12-month period, for a maximum value of $1,500 per occurrence.
To insure an iPhone X under Verizon's Total Mobile Protection program you'll have to pay $13 per month, plus a $199 deductible if you file a claim. You can file two claims every 12-month period with a maximum value of $1,500.
Is iPhone insurance worth it?
Whether iPhone insurance is worth the price comes down to how you handle your phone. Unless this is your first cell phone, you probably have a good idea by now about how responsible you'll be with your device. If you find yourself replacing your screen every six months or so, an insurance policy is probably a good idea. But if you've never filed a claim, and you're simply risk averse, an insurance policy might not make sense.
An AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss policy costs $299—30% of the total cost of an iPhone Xs. And if you do need to replace your device, you'll pay an additional $269 on top of that. By comparison, the average cost to insure an entire house is $1,083, and the average house is worth $218,000, according to Zillow. You also aren't likely to replace your house every two years, something iPhone users have a habit of doing.
If you think you can trust yourself to hold on to your iPhone for at least two years, it might be worth it to forgo an insurance policy—especially if you already have coverage through your credit card. If you don't have an eligible credit card and you do lose your device, you might be out a few hundred dollars. But unless you make a regular habit of losing your phone, you'll probably save more over the course of your life by skipping iPhone insurance.