WHICHEVER way you look at it, the mobile phone industry has you over a barrel. No matter which financial hole you’ve managed to plug by finding a cheap deal, there’s always some small print to suck money out of another one.
Phone insurance is a case in point: it’s expensive and most policies contain more exclusions than a Ryanair ticket. What’s more, if you bought your phone on the cheap – from eBay, for example – you probably won’t be able to insure it at all.
Of course, a mobile policy isn’t compulsory, but it makes sense if you’re the sort of person prone to leaving your handset in the pub.
Your household contents policy may cover your phone in your home and, in some cases, anywhere else. This involves paying an extra premium but it’s almost always less than the fee for a separate policy. Your bank account, too, may offer some cover: Nationwide’s £10-a-month FlexPlus account, for instance, comes with phone, travel and breakdown insurance.
You can also do what the insurance industry refers to through clenched teeth as self-insuring. This involves salting away a monthly amount roughly equivalent to an insurance premium into an account of your own. The advantage is that if there’s no claim, the money still belongs to you. The flip side is that you may need to make a claim before you’ve stashed away enough to cover it. Self-insuring at least covers most eventualities, unlike many specialist policies, and there’s no excess. But it doesn’t cover bills run up in the event of theft.
If a standalone policy is still your preference, shop around online before you accept the standard terms. In particular, make sure you can tick these boxes: Does the policy cover loss, theft, accidental damage and electronic failure?
Does it reimburse you for unauthorised calls and online purchases?
Do you have to pay the first £25 or £50 towards any claim? If so, does the value of your phone justify having the policy at all?
Does it cover you abroad?
The cost of the policy will depend on the phone you have – iPhones are generally most expensive to insure – but you shouldn’t be forking out more than £6 a month. Cheap policies will not necessarily offer you a replacement phone instantly – so an “official” network policy may be your only option – unless, of course, you go down the Clint Eastwood route and ask yourself the one question upon which the whole equation hinges: Do I feel lucky?