Kraft Kennedy’s standard recommendation for years has been to always get the total equipment protection insurance from the carrier when purchasing a smartphone. Smartphones are very tiny, very expensive computers that seem to get more fragile as time goes on – especially now that glass screens have become the norm over plastic. We see shattered devices all the time, especially with the iPhone 4 which has a glass front and back.
Insurance plans sold through the carrier can cost up to $10 / month and usually have a $100 or more deductible when submitting a claim. This can get very expensive for clumsier folks. When I purchased my iPhone 4 from AT&T last year, their policy was that they did not sell insurance for smartphones (this has since changed). Because I couldn’t get insurance from AT&T, I decided to try out purchasing service from SquareTrade.com. Square Trade covers accidental damage on most electronics, not just cell phones. For $99, I was able to get 2 years’ worth of coverage with a $50 deductible for accidental damage for my iPhone 4. The main thing to note here is that this does not cover loss or theft, so it’s not a true apples to apples price comparison. I’ve never lost a cell phone in my life though (knock on wood), so this did not bother me.
The home button on my iPhone stopped working recently so I got to give this service a try. I filled out the claim form online, and two days later I received an empty box and a return label via UPS. I shipped my phone back and in about a week start to finish I had my phone back with a working home button. Square Trade’s policy is that they try to repair your device first. If they can’t repair it, they’ll replace it. If they can’t replace it, they cut you a check for the full value of the device. The good news was that my phone was repaired for free. As it wasn’t damaged, I didn’t have to pay the $50 deductible. The downside was that I was without a phone for a week. This wasn’t a problem for me as I use AT&T and had access to a loaner iPhone I could put my SIM card into. For others, I could see this being a real inconvenience. What I didn’t ask was if I could use my own box to shave a couple of days off the process.
An interesting thing I discovered was that I had to ship my phone to a place called IResQ.com. Turns out this is a company that can repair your Apple device for you. They have all their pricing on their site so you can see how much it would cost to get repaired. Looks like Square Trade uses this service as opposed to doing the repairs themselves, so another option would be to not get any insurance and just play the odds. Getting my button repaired only costs $32 through the site, but replacing a broken screen costs $180 directly through the service.
Overall, my experience with Square Trade was very good and I would recommend them in the future as long as you’re ok with the downsides. I also have a Square Trade warranty on my iPad as that is very prone to breaking as well. I’m sure there are other services out there that do the same thing, but I try not to go around breaking different electronic devices to test out different warranty services.