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Your Smartphone's Biggest Hazard Is You

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Lost your smartphone? Thieves pinched your iPhone?

You're in the minority.

The biggest killer of smartphones is ... damage. Cracked screens, water seepage and other hardware injuries top the list.

This shouldn't have surprised me, but it did while I was researching whether smartphone insurance is worth the investment (read the result here).

In my household, we've damaged more phones than we've lost over the years (a ratio of all but 1:1).

Kelton Research offered specifics on the types of damage last spring after surveying 1,000 smartphone owners over 18 years old.

The two most popular ways to hasten a smartphone's death by damage? Dropping it down the stairs or spilling a drink on it both came in at 29%. Giving it to a child (25%) and dropping it into the toilet (20%) were next to blame. (If that last outcome makes you squeamish, you probably don't want to hear that 59% said they'd reach into the toilet to retrieve a phone.)

Insurance claims mostly echo the results. T-Mobile told me that four out of five claims for its Premium Handset Protection program were due to damage or loss. The top culprits? Drops and water damage.

Other insurers also definitely put damage way above loss and theft. All insurers say smartphone malfunctions are minor as well.

The Worth Ave. Group, a specialty insurer, says that 80% of iPhone failures are due to accidental damage. The leading cause: Water damage, at 40%, with a large number of iPhones somehow slipping into the toilet, says the company.

Being dropped and damage by small children were the next biggest causes. Worth doesn't cover losses, but it does offer theft insurance and gets about 10% to 15% of its claims due to theft.

Another insurer, SquareTrade, puts the chances of losing your iPhone to thieves at a mere 4% to 5% based on its own research. Partly because of those low stats, SquareTrade doesn't offer loss and theft coverage and covers just accidental damage.

This way, said founder Steve Abernethy, SquareTrade's insurance is cheaper, at $99 for two years of iPhone 4S coverage. Accidental damage, of course, is the biggest claim. (See a comparison of iPhone insurance rates over two years here .)
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