What is mobile phone insurance?
Mobile phone insurance covers you if you lose, damage or have your mobile phone stolen. Depending on the policy you buy and what you’re claiming for, it could cover you for repairs, a refurbished replacement or a brand-new phone.
It could be especially useful if you have an expensive handset, or if you’re entering a long-term phone contract. Particularly if you have a history of losing or breaking your phones.
It’s also a good idea if you rely heavily on your mobile, perhaps for work, and you’d need to replace it quickly.
What does phone insurance cover?
Damage protection is standard across most mobile phone insurance policies, but it’s worth asking your provider exactly what’s covered under its terms and conditions, since the definition can vary.
As a general rule, with mobile phone insurance you’ll be protected against:
- mechanical breakdown
- battery malfunction
- broken buttons
- screen cracks.
Your cover may also include your phone accessories, or even the apps, games or music you have stored on your device.
Depending on your policy, you may have to add extra cover for losing your phone. But the price of this optional extra won’t necessarily be higher if you’ve lost your phone several times in the past.
If your phone is stolen, you should normally be covered for any unauthorised calls from it, and some policies may also cover you for fraudulent activity if your phone is linked to your debit or credit card.
Typically, most policies also cover water damage, but it’s worth checking – especially if you’ve been known to drop your phone in the bath.
Depending on the claim, your insurance provider may cover repairs or a replacement. You could also look for a policy that offers a rapid replacement service, although you’re likely to pay more for this type of cover.
What isn’t covered by mobile phone insurance
There are a number of things that aren’t covered by most mobile phone insurance policies. These include:
- Wear and tear from using your phone
- Cosmetic damage such as scratches to the handset
- Intentional damage
- Faults caused by not following the manufacturer’s instructions
- Lost SIM cards
- Damage caused when using a different SIM to the one covered in your policy
- Theft or loss because of carelessness – such as leaving your phone unattended or in a place where it can be seen in your car.
It’s important to report damage or theft to your insurance provider (and the police, if applicable) as soon as it happens. Some insurance providers may require you to either report the incident to the police or make a claim within a certain time – often 24 hours or less.
You should also check whether your policy covers you while you’re abroad, especially if you’re away frequently or for an extended time. There could be limitations to the cover that you have overseas.
Why do I need mobile phone insurance?
Whether or not you need mobile phone insurance really depends on how likely you are to lose or damage your phone. If you’re accident-prone or forgetful, it’s worth thinking about whether you’d be able to afford to replace your phone if it’s uninsured and gets damaged beyond repair.
What types of mobile phone insurance policies are available?
You can buy:
- A standalone mobile phone policy that just covers your phone
- Gadget insurance that can cover your phone and other devices, like laptops and tablets
- Home contents insurance that includes cover for your mobile phone
Having your phone covered by your home contents insurance means you won’t have to take out and manage multiple policies. But you’ll need to check the wording of any contents insurance policy to see if your phone is covered and whether you can add it if it isn’t.
Check your excess – the amount you pay towards any claim – too, to make to make sure it’s worth it. Also check whether your phone is covered when you’re out and about. If not, you can add cover for personal possessions outside the home. Standard home insurance might not include accidental damage to your phone, so this is another thing to check and add on, if necessary.
UK mobile phone use in numbers
According to Ofcom:
|50 billion minutes of mobile voice calls were made in the UK between April and June 2020. That rose by 10 billion minutes after COVID-19 restrictions were imposed.||10.8 billion SMS and MMS messages were sent between April and June 2020. But with the popularity of alternatives such as WhatsApp, that has dropped by 5.7 billion from the previous three months.||1,007 petabytes of data was used on mobiles between April and June 2020 – up 28%. One petabyte contains a million gigabytes. That’s roughly equivalent to the storage needed for 224 million DVD-quality films.|
The mobile phone market was worth £3.2 billion in retail revenue between April and June of 2020 alone – an average of £12.77 per customer.
How much does mobile phone insurance cost?
The cost of mobile phone insurance depends on the make, model and age of your mobile phone, the level of cover you want, and the insurance provider.
Most phone networks offer their own insurance, with prices starting from about £3 per month. However, you need to check exactly what’s covered, as well as the excess you’ll need to pay and how quickly you’ll get a replacement phone or repairs carried out. The excess is how much you pay towards a claim.
You might get a better deal by simply adding your phone to your home insurance policy.
If you have a packaged bank account, it’s worth seeing if mobile cover is included. It’s often offered as one of the benefits of monthly-fee current accounts. Make sure that the level of cover offered is enough for your device though.
If you want the most extensive mobile cover, choosing a specialist mobile phone or gadget policy might be your best option. Many mobile providers offer this. At the moment, you can’t compare standalone mobile or gadget insurance with Compare the Market. However, you can protect your mobile phone as part of your home insurance policy with us.
We all love our smartphones
Many people rate their smartphone as one of the most important things they own. Given that we use them to shop, bank and take photos as well as communicate with our friends and family, it’s no surprise.
About half of all UK adults say their mobile phone is the one device they’d miss if it were taken away from them, according to Ofcom. However, break that down by age and you get the below results:
Percentage of people who say their mobile phone is the device they’d miss most
||Source: Ofcom: Online Nation 2020|
The high percentages show how important it is to have mobile phone insurance, so you can look after this key possession.
How can I reduce the cost of mobile phone insurance?
Your network provider will likely offer insurance for your mobile when you take out your contract, but you can often find a cheaper deal by shopping around. Make sure you check the terms of any policy carefully, to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your needs.
You may be able to reduce your premiums by paying a higher excess, but make sure you’d still be able to afford the excess if you did need to make a claim.
You could also try to save by self-insuring – putting a small amount of money away each week towards the cost of a new phone if you need it. And if you don’t, you get to keep what you’ve saved. On the other hand, if something does go wrong there’s no guarantee you’ll have enough saved to cover a new handset, which can run into the hundreds when not on contract.
Weird and wonderful ways people have damaged their mobile phones
One of the reasons mobile phone insurance is so important is because it’s so easy to have an accident and damage a device that you have to hand for large parts of the day.
Accidents do happen – and sometimes in weird and wonderful ways that none of us could predict.
Here’s a selection of some of the ways people have damaged their treasured smartphone:
My dad smashed his screen twice in 24 hours
Content writer Michaela Peacock, explained:
“My dad once did a headstand – it's his little party trick, he's 64 and over 6ft so it is pretty impressive – and his phone fell out of his pocket and the screen smashed.
“The next day he took it to be repaired and then managed to close the car boot on it, smashing it for the second time within 24 hours.”
I dropped my brand new iPhone in my tea
PR manager Alex Aldrich said:
“I once unwrapped my new iPhone and then sat down on the sofa with a cup of tea and dropped the whole phone into the tea!
“I hadn’t even got around to setting it up properly.”
I’ve broken mine a few times. I’m clumsy
Freelance journalist Kate Chapman said:
“I've broken my phone a few times, but mostly just because I'm clumsy. Last time was when I put it in a holder that attaches to my arm while I went running. The Velcro came undone and it smashed the screen when it hit the floor.”
The rice and the airing cupboard combo didn’t work
Sports fan Daniel Benning said:
“I was playing mini basketball in the house as a young whippersnapper – one of those hook-over-the-door contraptions. I was re-enacting Michael Jordan and performing what I thought was the perfect behind-the-head throw when – mid-flight – my phone bailed out of my trousers and towards the mop bucket in the corner of the room.
“It was a case of ‘complete the dunk or save the phone’ and, in hindsight, the wrong choice was made. I’m sorry to say the ‘rice and airing cupboard’ combo wasn’t enough to save it.”
Distracted Brits use their phones while walking
About three quarters of people in Britain admit to using their mobile phone while they’re walking – and more than a third have bumped into someone as a result.
The findings came from an AO Mobile survey, which also showed that 8% of people have damaged someone’s property by bumping into them while walking and using their phone. 4% even said they’d caused someone to be injured or hurt.
AO set up a designated ‘slow lane’ in Manchester to show the dangers of distracted walking.
It also found:
- 59% of people think people spend too long on their phones in public
- Almost a quarter of people check their phone ten or more times an hour
- 29% of people have walked into a lamppost while using their phone
- 44% have tripped when walking because they weren’t concentrating
The figures are echoed by findings from the National Accident Helpline. It found that about half of Brits say they’ve put themselves in danger by being distracted by their phone while walking or driving. It also discovered that a quarter of 16-24-year-olds say that having a smartphone made them less careful on the streets.
This isn’t just a British phenomenon. Other countries are worried about the dangers of ‘smartphone zombies’ too. For example, in July 2020, Yamato City near Tokyo banned the use of smartphones by pedestrians.
Walking while using your smartphone is one way you could damage it – but it’s not the only one.
The National Accident Helpline also found that about 80% of Brits admit they don’t always take care when taking selfies.
One in nine people have seen people taking selfies in unsafe situations – and the same proportion of 16-24-year-olds have hurt themselves when taking a selfie.
About a fifth of Brits have also dropped their phone on their face while lying down.
The top technology distractions that distract Brits when out and about:
1. Texting or using WhatsApp
2. Talking on the phone
3. Using a maps app
4. Browsing social media sites or apps
5. Checking and sending personal emails
6. Taking photos
7. Checking and sending work emails
8. Listening to music, radio, audio books or podcasts
9. Playing games
10. Online shopping
Source: National Accident Helpline
With so many dangers around, mobile phone insurance can give you some peace of mind that you’re ready for everyday hazards.
Mobile phone accidents ‘a fact of life’
Jonathan White, National Accident Helpline’s Legal and Compliance Director, said that phone-related accidents are commonplace – and that he’d support changes to the law that take safety into account.
He said: “It’s a fact of life that many people get distracted by their mobile phones, whether they’ve been injured using a selfie stick or they’ve bumped into a lamppost.”
He said most accidents caused by such distractions are minor, but added: “However, our research has shown that getting distracted by mobile technology while acting as a pedestrian or driving is a major cause of accidents. It’s not just using the mobile phone to speak to someone that’s the problem.
“Developments in mobile technology mean that device usage has evolved faster than the law. When adjusting a sat-nav, checking the latest social media notification or glancing at a new text message, drivers may be committing an offence and are likely to be putting themselves and others at significant risk of an accident.
“This is why we welcome any further changes to the law that aim to reduce the number of accidents related to the use of mobile technology.”
Frequently asked questions
I have more than one mobile phone. Can I insure them together?
Possibly, yes. Some insurance providers might stipulate that you insure each device separately but others offer multi-device cover, which usually comes at a discounted rate.
Will I get a new phone or will it be repaired?
That depends on the terms of your policy and what you’re claiming for. Some insurance providers prefer to try to repair damage, in which case you may be without your phone for several days or longer while the repairs are carried out. Others may offer you a refurbished equivalent rather than a brand-new handset.
How much is my mobile phone excess and when is it paid?
The excess will depend on the policy you take out, but most mobile phone insurance providers will charge an excess of at least £50. After you’ve made an approved claim, you’ll need to pay the excess in order to proceed.
Does it matter how old my phone is?
Yes, most insurance providers will only offer cover that starts within six months of you buying your phone, although some offer insurance starting up to 18 months from the purchase date. You’ll need to have a copy of your proof of purchase when making any claim.
Be aware that you may have to get specialist insurance for second-hand phones, and it could be difficult to get cover for phones purchased on auction sites, even if they’re brand-new.
What do I need to get covered?
You’ll need to provide the following details:
- the brand, make and model of your phone
- some personal details such as your name, address and date of birth
- where and when the device was bought (keep a copy of your proof of purchase for your records)
- The IMEI number which normally can be found on the box of your device
- any existing damage to the phone
- the level of cover required and the amount of excess you’re willing to pay.
You can’t currently compare standalone mobile phone insurance with Compare the Market. But you can add your phone to your home contents insurance if it’s not covered as standard, and add personal possessions outside the home cover, which can cover you if your phone is lost or stolen when you’re out and about.
How do I make a claim?
You should call your insurance provider as soon as possible when you realise you need to make a claim. There should be a helpline number provided in your policy documents. Normally, you’ll need to make a claim within a specified time period, and if you’re making a claim for a stolen device you may need to file a report with the police.
Your insurance provider should walk you through the next steps, including what documents you need to provide as evidence and any paperwork you need to fill in to proceed with the claim.
What should I do if my claim is rejected?
Check your policy documents carefully. Ensure all of your details are correct and make a note of any wording in the policy terms that you think proves you should be covered, or any information that you think is misleading or ambiguous. Then call up your insurance provider’s complaints department or write a formal letter of complaint, including any evidence for your dispute.
If you’re still unhappy after going through the formal complaints procedure, then you can take your claim to the Financial Ombudsman – a free, independent service that will investigate your complaint.
Can I insure my children’s mobile phones?
You should check the age restrictions on any policy to make sure your children’s mobile phones will be covered. Many insurance providers won’t cover children under 16, or in some cases under 18. You may have to add extra cover to ensure your child’s mobile is covered or look for a specialist policy.
Can I claim for my phone on home insurance?
In some cases, yes. For example, your home insurance policy may well cover you if your phone is stolen from your house and you may be able to extend the cover for accidental damage or to insure your mobile outside the home. It depends on the terms of your home insurance policy. Be aware, though, that you may have to pay higher excesses on your home insurance and, if you have to claim, you could face higher home insurance premiums in the future.
What is digital download cover?
The money we spend on downloading music, films and books can add up. Digital download cover can help if something happens to your device and your downloads are lost. This type of cover may be included in standalone mobile phone insurance and in home insurance. Be aware that you often won’t be covered if you delete your downloads by mistake and that only downloads you’ve bought legally will be covered.
Where can I find mobile phone insurance?
You can’t currently compare standalone mobile phone insurance with Compare the Market. But if you’re thinking about adding your phone to your home insurance policy or want to add on personal possessions insurance, we can help. We’ll find you quotes from a range of UK insurance providers, in a matter of minutes, so you can choose the cover that’s right for you.
What do I need to get a home insurance quote?
We’ll ask you a few questions about you and your property, then show you a list of quotes to choose from, including optional extras. Just give us some details about:
- The property you live in
- When you’d like your insurance to start
- The value of the contents in your home – our comparison includes a contents calculator to help you
If you already have home insurance, it will be helpful if you have your current policy documents to hand.Start a quote
Home insurance expert
"Smartphones can cost hundreds of pounds – and so much of our lives are on them. If you’re worried about the cost of repairing or replacing your phone, then mobile insurance might work for you."