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Understand Your Cell Phone Insurance Options

Cell Phones, Utilities
Protection Plans for Your New iPhone 7

A new smartphone can retail for upwards of $650. If you’re shelling out that kind of dough, you’d be wise to protect your investment.

Major wireless carriers sell basic cell phone insurance, most of them through a company called Asurion. They also offer premium protection plans, typically bundled with app and tech support.

» MORE: 4 surprising things about cell phone insurance

Your carrier’s basic insurance is probably more than enough. It’ll cover you if your phone is lost, stolen or damaged. Just keep in mind that most insurance plans limit you to two claims in a 12-month period. And while the carrier might be able to replace your phone with the same model, it could be a different color or refurbished.

Alternatives to your carrier’s insurance plan, such as AppleCare+ and SquareTrade, can save you $115 or more in monthly premiums for a single device over two years — more if you make a claim — but neither covers lost or stolen phones.

Read on for details about AppleCare+, SquareTrade and plans from the major carriers.

AT&T protection plans

 What's includedMonthly costDeductible
Mobile InsuranceInsurance through Asurion that covers lost, stolen or damaged phones and malfunctions not addressed by the manufacturer's warranty. Maximum of two claims in 12 months.$7.99 per device$150-$299 for most smartphones. It depends on the device and could drop by 25-50% with the company’s declining deductible program.
Mobile Protection PackIncludes all the features of Mobile Insurance, plus ProTech support (online tutorials and unlimited technical support) and, on eligible devices, the AT&T Protect Plus app. It offers photo, video and contact backup and the ability to remotely locate and lock your phone, among other things.$10.99 per device
Multi-Device Protection PackIncludes all the features of the Mobile Protection Pack, but covers three devices and up to six claims over 12 months on those devices.$29.99 per account

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Sprint protection plans

 What's includedMonthly costDeductible
Equipment Service and Repair ProgramCovers mechanical and electrical defects and malfunctions.$5 per deviceNo deductible. First two service and repair transactions are free. Additional repairs within 12 months cost $25 each.
Total Equipment ProtectionEquipment Services and Repair Program plus insurance coverage via Asurion. Insurance covers lost, stolen or damaged phones. Maximum of three claims in 12 months.$11 per device$100-$250 for most smartphones
Total Equipment Protection PlusTotal Equipment Protection, plus on-demand tech support via Sprint's Tech Expert app.$13 per device

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T-Mobile protection plans

 What's includedMonthly costDeductible
Premium Handset ProtectionInsurance coverage via Assurant, which covers loss, theft, accidental damage and mechanical or electrical failure.$10 per device$150-$175 for most smartphones
Premium Handset Protection with Lookout Security PremiumInsurance coverage through Assurant, plus Lookout Mobile Security. With Lookout, you can locate and wipe your device, sound an alarm and view backed up contacts and photos.$12, price varies by device
JumpTrade in your phone for a new one after you've paid off 50% of the device cost (via installment plan). Jump also includes Premium Handset Protection with Lookout Security Premium.$12, price varies by device

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Verizon protection plans

 What's includedMonthly costDeductible
Extended warrantyCovers manufacturer defects after the warranty expires.$3 per deviceN/A
Asurion Wireless Phone ProtectionCovers lost, stolen or damaged phones. Maximum of three claims in 12 months.$7.15 per device$99-$199 for smartphones
Total Equipment CoverageIncludes extended warranty and Asurion Wireless phone protection.$9 per device
Total Mobile Protection (single device)Includes extended warranty, Asurion phone protection, over-the-phone technical support and Verizon's Support and Protection app.$11 per device
Total Mobile Protection (multi-device)Total Mobile Protection coverage on your entire account. Can file claims on any three devices, with a maximum of nine claims in 12 months.$33 per account

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Other protection options

 What's includedCostDeductible
AppleCare+Extends the warranty to two years and covers two incidents of accidental damage. Only available on iPhones.$129 for two years of coverage$29 for screen damage, $99 for all other repairs
SquareTradeReplaces or repairs your phone if it's damaged or malfunctions after the warranty expires. You can send your phone in for repairs or take it to a local shop and get reimbursed, minus the deductible.$149 for two years of coverage$99 for all claims

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Kelsey Sheehy is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @KelseyLSheehy.

A previous version of this article listed an incorrect name for the T-Mobile insurance provider. T-Mobile offers insurance via Assurant. This article has been corrected.