NEW YORK (
) -- Odds are against smartphone owners that their $600 personal assistant will still be around and working soundly when a two-year contract expires. Insurance is one way to get peace of mind, but it may ultimately cost the same price as your under-contract phone.
How much? Let's take the iPhone 4S, as an example. Allowing for one fix (which requires a deductible) during two years, here is how much you'll pay, excluding the price of the phone:
, a Delray Beach, Fla. insurer, began offering mobile insurance in 2010 to give smartphone owners an alternative. It offers coverage for two years for $90 with a $50 deductible per incident (up to three claims allowed). This plan option is for damage protection only. Read the fine print
, the three-year-old warranty company in Arizona offers one- and two-year plans for the iPhone, at $59 and $97 respectively. The warranty covers cracked screens, broken buttons, water damage and extends the hardware warranty. Each claim requires a $50 deductible. You can add coverage at any time or, if you haven't made a claim, cancel for a prorated refund of $7.99/month. Loss or theft is not covered. Read the fine print at
with AppleCare, a $99 extended warranty that covers hardware malfunction and accidental damage from handling, like "drops and liquid contact." Up to two claims can be made, with a deductible of $49 per claim. You're out of luck though if the iPhone is lost or stolen. Read the fine print
is another alternative insurer, which is part of
mobile protection plan (Sam's Club is owned by
). You pay $59 for one-year or $99 for two years to ensure the iPhone against drops, spills and other damage. Each claims costs a $50 deductible, and you get up to 4 claims. Losses and theft aren't covered but if that happens, SquareTrade offers a pro-rated refund. It's proud of its high-customer ratings and a large Facebook following. Read the fine print at
-- Another alternative insurer,
Worth Avenue Group
charges a one-time $89 a year for the iPhone 4S, and covers up to three years for a discounted $240.30, plus a $50 deductible. The contract covers the usual accidental damage, plus loss, theft, tornados and vandalism. But it doesn't cover data loss. Read the fine print at
also offers a plan that includes damage
lost and stolen phones, but it will cost you. With a one-time fee of $129.99, the plan charges $179 per claim. It doesn't cover abuse or loss of data and you can make up to 3 claims. Read the fine print at
is a newcomer from the UK that made a splash last spring with its "Protect your bubble" insurance for gadgets, pets, travel and rental cars. Its iPhone plan, at $7.99 a month, covers damage, loss, theft and "mysterious disappearance." It charges a $120 deductible for each iPhones claim (less for other smartphones) and allows two claims within 12 months. And it throws in "credit monitoring services," if your phone is lost or stolen, and offers a 10 percent coverage discount for additional devices. Read the fine print at
-- The original iPhone carrier,
, offers a full-service iPhone coverage plan for $6.99 per month, plus a $199 deductible per claim. It covers loss, theft, damage and out-of-warranty malfunction. You can enroll within 30 days of purchase and make up to two claims in 12 months. A more exhaustive plan, the new Mobile Protection Pack, adds extra support (setup, personalization) and service for locating and locking a wayward phone for $9.99 a month. Read the fine print at
lands at the top of the price pile by charging $9.99 a month for its "Total Equipment Coverage." Add in a $169 deductible per claim -- up to two every 12 months -- and iPhone insurance will cost $8 more than the priciest iPhone available under contract. Read the fine print at
doesn't offer iPhone insurance and refers customers to Apple. Coverage for other high-end smartphones, like the
Galaxy Nexus, is $11 per month with a $150 deductible, bringing "Total Equipment Protection" fees for two years to $414. Read the fine print at
Sprint's Web site
, owned by
, doesn't offer the iPhone. But its top-of-the-line smartphone coverage is $7.99 per month with up to a $130 deductible, bringing the comparable two-year cost to $321.76. Read the fine print at
, which is the default insurer for the four major phone carriers, doesn't sell coverage directly to consumers. However, at its site
, it tells you exactly how much you'll pay based on carrier and type of phone at six, 12 and 18 months.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Tamara Chuang is an outside contributor to TheStreet. Her opinions are her own.