iPhone Insurance – AppleCare+ vs Carrier Insurance

The iphone is a cultural phenomenon. Everywhere you look you are bombarded by ads and news stories showing the mania around new iphone launches. I saw a news report the other day where a man paid someone 300 dollars for their spot on line. That’s right, he paid 300 bucks for a chance to buy a the iphone 5! Not for the phone itself, the “opportunity” to buy one, madness.

I have a 4s myself and although I don’t often get swept up in hype,  I was pretty jazzed when I got it. Looking at the floor model, selecting the color, holding the box, it’s pretty exciting. Then comes the buzz-kill. The sale associate at the register will ultimately ask, “Would you like to protect your phone for X dollars a month with our insurance program”. That’s not exactly what they say, but its close enough.

This is a calculated move, the wireless company knows to strike when the iron is hot. You love your new iphone, of course you want to protect it. It’s worth a lot of money, valuable things need to be insured.

I always advocate making a decision after you weigh the options. Impulse buys often lead to waste. I did some research and have founds the pros and cons of each choice. For the purposes of this comparison I will compare coverage over a two year period on a 16GB iphone. Coverage is based hard drive size rather then model number. A 16GB 5 and 4S cost the same to cover. 


  • Cost $99 for 2 years
  • Does it cover Water/Physical Damage – Yes
  • Does it cover Lost/Stolen Phones – NO
  • Phone Replacement Deductible – $49 for two incidents
Wireless Carrier Insurance
  • Cost $8-$12 a month, around  $240 over 2 years
  • Does it cover Water/Physical Damage – Yes
  • Does it cover Lost/Stolen Phones – Yes
  • Phone Replacement Deductible – $169 – $200 per incident depending on the carrier
At more then half the price and a much lower deductible, if AppleCare + offered coverage for lost or stolen phones it would be a no brainer. AppleCare also offers the very important feature of tech support, both over the phone and at the Apple Store.
While the wireless carrier coverage does cover lost/stolen phones the deductible is so high, over 150 dollars, that it almost doesn’t seem worth it.
Final Verdict:  Unless you are prone to losing your phone or live in an area where theft is common AppleCare + seems like the best value. Since its around 140 dollars cheaper, you could buy the Apple coverage and sock the rest of that money away. If you phone is lost or stolen you could use those funds to buy a replacement smartphone to get you to your next contract renewal. Let’s review a few scenarios.
  • You lose your phone - Under AppleCare + you are out of luck, you lose the phone and you Apple Care money, you buy a 140 dollar replacement Smart phone – Cost $250 dollars. Under Carrier Insurance you pay $240 dollars for the insurance and $170 dollars for the deductible – Cost $410 Dollars (approx.)
  • Your phone is damagedUnder AppleCare+ you pay $49 for a replacement phone. Cost with Coverage  $140. With Carrier Insurance you pay the same $170 dollar deductible as before – Cost with coverage $410 dollars (approx.)
In most scenarios AppleCare+ comes out as the clear value choice. Something to keep in mind when you walk up to the register with your shiny new iphone.


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