Is phone insurance worth it? Carrier options vs AppleCare vs Samsung Protection vs SquareTrade

Carrier phone insurance vs AppleCare vs Samsung Protection vs SquareTrade comparison
If you break the screen of the Galaxy S7 edge, it will cost you the whopping $270 plus at least a week turnaround time to get it replaced, and the only display provider is Samsung. If that is not a rallying cry to summon your inner grace each time you handle this phone, or keep it in bubble wrap, we don't know what would be.

Granted, you can always put an armored case around this pretty puppy, plus a layer of screen protection, but, let's face it, it won't look as good, plus the edge screen might not work as well. What if you are a phone nudist, and don't place any protection so as not to cover the shiny surface, until just that one night out on the town comes, or a natural born klutz, and constantly drop your handsets? Well, then what's left for you is to either pony up a Benjamin (or two or three), if you shatter the screen or cause any other damage, or to try and insure the gear from the get-go, so the sting on your finances is not as piercing. Which insurance to pick, though, and is it worth it at all? 

Well, we've compared a few popular options below to help you choose if you decide to go the insurance route with deductibles for expensive phones like the Galaxy S7 edge or the iPhone 6s; at $270 to replace the edge display, and $150 to swap the 3D Touch panel without insurance, they are the ones most likely to benefit from it. There are carrier (mostly handled by dedicated companies like Assurant or Asurion), manufacturer and third-party options, so take a peak, and tell us your verdict on whether this kind of protection is worth the investment for you.

2-year plan paymentDeductible (per claim)Coverage
$216 ($9 a month)$199Loss, theft, accidental damage, out-of-warrranty malfunction.
Two claims within any consecutive 12 months.
$168 ($7 a month)$199 (declining to $149 after 6 months since last claim, and to $99 after a year)Loss, theft, accidental damage, out-of-warrranty malfunction.
Two claims within any consecutive 12 months.
$240 ($10 a month)$175Loss, theft, accidental damage, out-of-warrranty malfunction.
Two claims within any consecutive 12 months.
$264 ($11 a month)$200Loss, theft, damage and malfunction coverage.
Your first two repair/exchange claims are included at no additional charge. After these first two claims a $25 service fee applies for any future repair/exchange within a 12-month period.
$129$99Repair or accidental damage replacement, both parts and labor, from Apple-authorized technicians.
Coverage will expire when Apple has provided to you two service events. No loss or theft coverage.
Samsung Protection+
$129$79Accidental damage, and mechanical or electrical breakdowns after the manufacturer's warranty expires.
Up to 2 replacements in a 12 month period for accidental damage claims. No loss or theft coverage.
$119 ($5 a month)$99Continuous accident and malfunction coverage for any working phone, old or new.
Up to 4 claims, the value of your cover is limited to the original purchase price of your item. Convenient service at any local repair shop, but no loss or theft protection.

The Nutshell

Looking at the table above, it's easy to deduce that phone insurance doesn't come cheap, but if you are paying in monthly fees of five or ten bucks, it is bearable. Is it worth it, though? As with most comparisons, there is no straight answer that would be valid for all situations, so let's look at a few examples with the most typical accidental damage - a broken screen.

The best pro-insurance case is if you, say, own the Galaxy S7 edge, and sign up for the cheapest option to cover it, which just happens to be the Samsung Protection Plus guarantee. With insurance, a broken panel will cost you $210 in payment and deductible, instead of $270, so in that case you are better off ponying up to insure the S7 edge. Ditto for phones like the Note 5 or the S7, whose AMOLED panels hover around or above the $200 mark, too.

If you own, say, an iPhone, even if it is the 6s Plus, whose 3D Touch panel costs $149 to replace outright, AppleCare will net you $220 for the same with the deductible. At first blush, this doesn't seem like a bargain, but if you manage to inflict, say, accidental permanent water damage to the handset, that calculation turns on its head. Moreover, AppleCare offers a very quick repair or replacement service in any Apple shop, as long as you make an appointment online beforehand, so you won't have to stay parted with your iPhone for too long.

If you lose those phones, or they get stolen, however, you are out of luck with no-loss plans like Protection+, AppleCare, or SquareTrade. To cover those eventualities, you might want to dole out for a carrier insurance plan. It costs much more than the other options ($370 - $470 for one accident in the span of two years), but you pay in $7-$11 monthly installments, and the worst-case contingency covered in those plans is that your top-shelf phone gets lost or stolen. Given that those puppies cost north of $650, it's still worth it when you draw the line. 

Of course, these pro-insurance examples are somewhat extreme, as the screen replacement for most phones is not as expensive, or you might be of the prudent type who's never got their phone lost or snatched. In that case, you could soldier on without insurance. The more you drop, lose, or are in any other way careless with your handset, however, the more any type of insurance will pay off over the span of the typical protection plan. Pick your poison.

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