By Tony and Dan | Edited by Martin Updated August 2015
Lose it, break it, or have your mobile nicked and it can cause tears. Insurers play on this fear with hefty prices and unnecessary cover.
The big checks: Do you need mobile phone insurance?
Are you a loser?
No insult intended, but it's important to understand mobile phone insurance isn't compulsory. Deciding whether to get a policy comes down to the fact that you know yourself better than insurers will. In particular, think about this:
How likely are you to lose or damage your phone?
If your mobile's been permanently clipped to your belt buckle for the last 10 years, the chances you'll lose or break it are slim. Alternatively, for social butterflies who don't know where they'll wake up, a broken or damaged phone (and a hangover) is par for the course.
Unlike most insurance, mobile cover doesn't usually increase with a history of loss or damage. So those who rarely have issues are cross-subsidising losers. If you've painful memories of the handsets you've lost, insurance is worth considering. If not, think about self-insuring and/or covering your phones on your home insurance.
Martin's a loser.
I may be good at saving money, but I'm scatterbrained with keys and phones, too often leaving them as I rush from one place to the other. While I try my best, the truth is I've had more than 10 phones lost, broken or nicked in the last decade. As I know I'm a loser, I know insurance is a good bet for me, as it costs less than repeatedly paying for a new phone.
Can you self-insure?
Self-insuring simply means rather than paying for insurance, you put money aside each month into a Top Savings Account. This way if you lose your phone, you've got cash to pay towards a replacement.
If not, the cash and the interest is yours rather than an insurer's. It's great for those who rarely lose or damage phones, though it isn't without its risks.
To find out how much you should be saving, either ask your contract provider how much it would charge for a replacement handset or research the costs of buying a new handset - you should get a rough idea from a website such as eBay* (see eBay Buying Secrets ).
What if I lose the phone before I've saved up enough?
Modern smartphones can cost Ј100s to buy new when they're not subsidised by a contract. The latest iPhone 6, 6 Plus, Samsung S6 and the S6 Edge could set you back Ј700 or more while the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5 are closer to Ј500. Plus 18 and 24-month deals mean you could be locked in to expensive contracts for a long time without a phone.
If you lose the phone early on it can be costly and the more expensive it is to replace, the less
self-insuring is worth it - or at least couple it with a budget insurance policy.
Will I have to pay for fraudulent calls?
While insurance protects you against phone thieves running up big bills, without it you'll have to shoulder the cost of calls made, and downloads of music, games, etc, before it's barred by your operator.
So if you're self-insuring, report the loss or theft of a phone ASAP - err on the side of caution (see how to protect yourself against fraud ).
There's only a short time left on my contract, is it better to get a new mobile deal
It can be cheaper to get a new deal (see Cheapest Mobiles ) than pay up for a replacement phone. Top-end handsets can be Ј100s cheaper if bought as part of a new customer deal rather than as a replacement.
Speak to your current phone provider. It may also let you downgrade to its cheapest tariff to see out the remainder of the contract, minimising wasted spend.
Should I get like for like?
It may be a wrench, but if you haven't scraped together enough money, it's time to consider temporarily downgrading.
If you don't have your Sim card, ask your provider to replace it (it's often free or has a small charge) rather than the phone. Then pick up a pay-as-you-go or Sim-free phone - paying Ј10 for a basic handset is no longer uncommon.
However, make sure it's on the same network as your Sim card, or get your phone unlocked (see the Mobile Unlocking guide for full details).
Can I flog broken phones to offset the cost?
If your phone is broken and costs too much to fix, you may be able to recoup some money by selling it to a mobile recycling company. Most are happy to take broken handsets, though obviously they'll pay less than for fully functional ones.
We've built a full, free comparison tool of the top players - use MobileValuer.com .
Is it already covered by your home insurance?
Most standard contents insurance only covers phones if they're lost in a home burglary or house fire. But some include accidental damage cover, which lets you claim for phones damaged at home.
Also check for 'all risks' or 'personal possessions cover', which protects you against loss, theft or accidental damage when expensive items are taken outside the home. You'll pay around Ј25 to Ј35 a year on top of your annual premium for it. If you go for this option, always check the following:
On most of the mobile insurance policies below, excesses tend to be Ј25-50. However, if you're claiming on your home insurance this can be from Ј100 up to Ј500.
As any claim you make will be on your home insurance policy, it can harm your no-claims bonus. If this happens, the cost of insuring a mobile this way shoots up.