Consumer Reports: is insurance for your smartphone a smart idea?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Accidents happen, especially to our phones. And when a pricey smartphone takes a hit, it can amount to hefty repair costs. What about insurance for your phone?

In a partnership with Consumer Reports, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney takes a look to see if smartphone insurance is a smart choice for you.

"Well, the worst one was when it dropped in the toilet."

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There's a story behind every cell phone mishap. "Yeah I've broken like all my phones," said another cell phone user.

"My son has had two breaks," admitted another. "My phone is actually cracked right here, right now," another shared.

But, what are the odds of a smartphone snafu happening to you? In a recent survey, Consumer Reports found that over the last two years, half of the folks they surveyed had at least one major incident with a phone in their household. If there are kids in the house, that goes up to 81%.

Without coverage, the average cost to repair a cracked screen for an Apple iPhone 8 is $145. A Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is $277. "Phones, in general, now are more expensive because they have more sophisticated components, which means if you break it, it's going to cost you a lot more to fix it," said Bree Fowler, Consumer Reports Tech Editor.

Apple and Samsung sell their own protection plans. Apple Care Plus for an iPhone 8 costs $129, and $199 for the iPhone X. Samsung Premium Care is $11.99 a month. "Coverage plans from Apple and Samsung don't cover loss or theft," said Margot Gilman, Consumer Reports Money Editor. "They're basically extended warranties, not insurance. So they cover things like cracked screens, mechanical failures."
Or, you could consider getting insurance through your provider. All four major carriers cover repairs, along with loss and theft, depending on the type of plan you select and your device.

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But is cell phone insurance really necessary?

"The important thing is to know thyself," said Gilman. "You need to take a step back and ask yourself: am I the kind of person who tends to lose things, do I have teenagers who tend to lose or break things?"

Consumer Reports' rule of thumb: if you feel like within a two year period you're likely to have two or more incidents occur to your phone, you may want to get insurance.

Consumer Reports also found that cracked screens are by far the most common repair need. 30% of survey respondents said someone in their household had cracked their smart phone screen in the past two years.

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