Your tech: Is phone insurance a good deal?

This week, a reader writes, “I have been carrying insurance on two iPhone 13 Pro phones for a couple of years. It is called AT&T Protect Advantage — for up to four devices. You have to also pay for ProTech support. What is your opinion?”

It is always a crapshoot with insurance. You buy it, hoping you’ll never need to use it.

I’ve gone both ways with my phones. I usually buy a new iPhone every other year, and I’ve purchased insurance (AppleCare Plus) just once in the last 10 years. Oh, and I never had to make a claim.

The insurance isn’t a terrible deal, though some is better than others. Let’s take a quick look at a few choices.

AT&T’s Protect Advantage is available for most devices sold by AT&T. It costs $17 per month for a top-tier phone. They also have a $45 per month plan for up to four phones.

What you need to know is there are deductibles for most claims you make, and there are limits to the number of claims you can make during the coverage period.

If you have coverage for one phone, you can submit a claim for accidental damage two times and physical damage or loss/theft three times per consecutive 12-month period.


There are unlimited screen repairs and battery replacements.

As for deductibles, a screen repair is $29, device replacement depends on the cost of the device, but a top-tier phone is $275. Battery replacements under the plan have a $0 deductible.

AT&T also adds features like unlimited cloud photo storage and phone support to help you set up, use and troubleshoot any issues.

Just to give some perspective, if you pay $17 per month for two years and have one claim of a lost or stolen phone with a $275 deductible, you’re paying $683 to replace a phone that costs $800-1,200.

Let’s say you break your screen twice in two years. You’re paying $466 for two screen replacements.

Apple offers AppleCare+ for its devices. For the protection with theft and loss coverage, how much you’ll pay depends on the price of the phone.

For an iPhone 14 Pro Max, the cost is $269 for two years (or $13.49 per month). An iPhone SE costs just $149 for two years.

These plans include unlimited incidents of accidental damage or theft/loss every 12 months.

There are also deductibles for each claim. Screen replacement is $29, other accidental damage is $99 and theft or loss replacement is $149.

So, two years of coverage plus a loss replacement would cost $418 for a top-tier iPhone.

AppleCare Plus with theft and loss protection seems like a better deal if you don’t need the unlimited photo storage or phone support that AT&T provides.

Everyone has their own comfort level with risk.

As for me? I just put a good case on my phone and hope for the best. It has worked out for me so far.

Jim Rossman is a tech columnist for Tribune News Service. He may be reached at