- You have an expensive smartphone and/or you're locked into a long-term contract.
- You have a history of lost or broken phones.
- You couldn't afford to replace the handset and you wouldn't want to downgrade to a cheaper model.
- You rely on your mobile phone and would need an instant replacement if it was lost, stolen or damaged. (Bear in mind that you'd need to choose a policy offering a rapid replacement service – not all of them do.)
Money fitness tip
Keep a record of your IMEI - you will need to report this to the police if your phone is lost or stolen. Your network can provide this free of charge or key in *#06# on your handset.
What does mobile phone insurance cover you for?
At a basic level, mobile phone insurance covers you in case your phone is lost, stolen or broken. Some policies also offer cover for:
- Accidental damage
- Unauthorised calls
- Apps, games, music and other valuable content
- Protection while abroad as well as in the UK
- Phone accessories.
But policies vary widely, both in the cover they offer and their 'exclusions' (things you’re not covered for).
Money fitness tip
Register your phone for free on the Immobilise website, the UK's national property register. It helps police trace the rightful owner of lost or stolen goods.
What does mobile phone insurance not cover you for?
Here are some of the main exclusions to be aware of.
If you drive off with your phone on the roof of your car, for example, you may not be covered. Your insurance company may not pay the claim on the basis that you didn’t take reasonable care.
Theft while unattended
If you leave your phone on the seat of your car or on a table in a cafe and it's not there when you go back for it, you probably won't be covered. Check your policy wording or ask your insurance company for clarification.
Delays in reporting your phone lost or stolen
Make sure you report your phone missing as soon as possible. Some insurers won’t cover you – for the phone itself or for unauthorised calls and downloads – if you leave it more than 24 hours (or 12 hours for some insurers) before reporting it to them and/or the police.
Money fitness tip
Tell your provider as soon as possible if your phone is lost or stolen. They can bar your SIM to stop calls being made to your account. Ofcom has provider phone numbers if you can't find yours.
If you’re prone to dropping your phone in the loo or leaving it in your jeans while they go through the wash, you should check that your policy covers you for water damage – some don’t. Again, you might find you’re not covered here because you haven’t taken ‘reasonable care’.
No SIM card or not the original SIM card
If you don’t have the original SIM card in your phone, for example you’ve changed providers and inserted a new SIM card, or you’re temporarily using a different handset, you might not be covered.
You might not get a replacement phone
If your phone is damaged or breaks down, some insurers will try to repair it or provide a refurbished phone rather than giving you a replacement. If this is the case then you’ll have to prepare to be without a phone while yours is being fixed. This normally takes between four and seven days.
If you’re looking to insure your teenage son or daughter’s phone, you may struggle to find cover for them if they are under 16 (or 18 in some cases).
How much does mobile phone insurance cost?
Mobile phone insurance isn’t always cheap. The cost of mobile phone insurance depends on things like the phone brand, model and the level of cover.
Premiums for mobile phone insurance can be as much as £14.99 a month, which works out at nearly £360 over a two-year contract (source: Defaqto). However, there are cheaper deals out there. For example, it’s possible to get iPhone cover for £5.00 a month.
Is it value for money?
Value for money isn't just about price. Always check exactly what you're getting for your money and whether it's suitable for your needs.
If you need a speedy replacement handset, for example, make sure you get a policy that includes it.
If you’re offered mobile phone insurance when buying a new phone or contract, it’s a good idea to shop around for a better deal before accepting.
Alternatives to mobile phone insurance
To self-insure, simply save up the money you would have spent on mobile phone insurance. Once you’ve built up a fund, you’ll have the money to replace your phone if you ever need to or any other unexpected costs.
Pros and cons of self-insurance
√ If you don’t lose or break your phone, the money is in your bank account rather than the insurance company’s.
X You might lose or break your phone before you've saved up enough money to cover a new one.
X One of the biggest expenses when a phone is stolen can be unauthorised calls to premium rate numbers made in the period before you report the phone as stolen to your network provider – you'll have to pay for these too.
If you do decide to self-insure, make sure you put the money into a savings account where you will be able to access your money quickly - see Cash savings.
Include your mobile on your home insurance
You’ll probably find that your home contents insurance covers your mobile phone if it’s stolen during a house break-in. Your insurance company may also offer you the option of adding accidental damage cover for your phone in the home, or cover for your belongings – including your phone – outside the home.
Pros and cons of including your phone on your home insurance
√ It’s a relatively cheap way of insuring your mobile phone (but see the following two points).
X If you do have to claim for your phone on your home insurance, your premium may increase when it comes up for renewal. For this reason, some people prefer to keep their home insurance and their mobile phone insurance separate.
X Again, if you do have to claim, the excess (the amount you have to pay towards the claim) may be higher on your home insurance than it would be if you had separate mobile phone insurance.
X Home insurance claims generally take some time to go through, leaving you without a mobile in the meantime. If you choose the right mobile phone insurer, however, you should be able to get a new handset straight away.
X Unauthorised calls probably won’t be covered.
Get mobile phone insurance or cover as part of a packaged bank account
Packaged bank accounts usually offer mobile phone insurance as one of the benefits in return for a monthly fee.
Pros and cons of mobile phone insurance from a packaged bank account
√ This can be a relatively cheap way of insuring your mobile phone.
√ If it’s a joint account you might even get both yours and your partner’s phone insured for the same fee.
X Always check the level of cover – does it meet your needs? How quickly will your handset be replaced? Will you be covered for unauthorised calls?
If you’re thinking of going for a packaged bank account, make sure that the benefits you get outweigh the cost of the account - see Packaged accounts.
Next steps to protect yourself for free
There are a number of things you can do to keep your mobile safe.
Find out more about protecting your phone on the Ofcom website.
Find out how to back-up your phone data – tips from the MoneySavingExpert website.
Next steps to get the right mobile phone insurance policy for your needs
If you decide to invest in mobile phone insurance, make sure you pick a policy that's right for you.
Check out these mobile phone insurance best buys on the MoneySavingExpert website.
Things to ask your mobile phone insurer before you buy – on the MoneySavingExpert website.
And be aware of your mobile phone insurance rights.
Find out what consumer champion Which? has to say about mobile phone insurance and your rights.