No, Mobile Phone Insurance Doesn’t Cover Malfunctioning Phones

Insurance on your mobile phone replaces your phone in the case of theft, loss, or accidental damage. Colby has been paying for insurance on his phone, but didn’t realize that what it doesn’t cover is mechanical failure of the phone. If you drop or lose the phone: replacement. If it fails out of warranty: nope. If Colby had known this, he could have just thrown it on the ground from a third-story window, then stomped on it before filing the insurance claim.

I have been with Verizon for more than 6 years. My wife has been with them longer. We now also have 2 phones for our two teenaged children. My wife has purchased insurance on all 4 of the phones for about $7/mo. In the past, we did get one phone replaced via the insurance, though it doesn’t take a lot of math to realize we are behind on the insurance function. But we live on a pretty tight budget, so having to replace a phone on the fly would be no small inconvenience.

On Saturday, I used the phone at about 2pm. I was heading to meet my wife at our daughter’s skating recital. At the intermission, I pulled my phone out to time the intermission as I believed it had run 40 minutes the night before. Much to my horror, my phone only had a black screen. I pulled the battery and replaced it. I swapped my wife’s battery. No go. I later put it on the charger and nothing changed.

So Saturday night, I first tried the Verizon website for their link. This was the first place I was told that my phone was malfunctioning and that my insurance wouldn’t cover that. I believe it took me 8 phone calls, a variety of dropped calls and speaking to people at both Verizon and the company that apparently services the insurance on my phone. I spoke with two supervisors and had to be reminded on at least one occasion that my phone call was being recorded.

The end result was very clear. Had I lost my phone(or presumably had it stolen), damaged my phone or submerged it in water, that would be covered. But Verizon does not cover my phone for malfunction. That is covered by manufacturers warranty. Except not on my phone, because my phone is actually two years old.

This is all the more amusing, because I’m not sure if it’s the right terminology, but my phone is an old phone. I believe it would be declared 2G. No data package. Nothing. The average person reading this, probably used a phone like that 3 or more years ago. I sit at a computer for my job almost all day and have multiple laptops at home, so as a person on a tight budget, a wireless package is really just a luxury I don’t need.

Verizon tried at least 4 times to get me to take an iPhone which I can get for free because my account is eligible for an upgrade. Of course I have to sign up for a 2 year $30/mo data package. So it’s not really free, it’s over $700.

Apparently they do have some other basic models in the store. Of course those will require me to reup my contract. I’m seriously considering leaving Verizon next month when my contract is up. The Verizon network is their big selling point, but I live in the Chicago area and network is really not much of an issue. So price will be my biggest concern. Or rather price/quality.

All in all very frustrating.

When we wrote back, idly wondering what would have happened had he just physically destroyed the phone….well, he already got there. He added:

I slightly impolitely asked the woman who was telling me it wasn’t covered if I poured a glass of water on the phone, dropped it on the floor and threw it in the garbage if my claim could then be processed because it was wet, broken and lost. That was when I was told that I was being recorded.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    Uhhh….. “lose” the phone, bro. Get a replacement, and win. When I had Sprint and dropped my phone in the toilet, I threw it in a lake and got another one, because insurance usually doesn’t cover water damage either.

    • Velkyr says:

      But his call was recorded!

      For those like me that overthink things, have him call the insurance company and drop the claim because his phone is now working properly, and can make phone calls.

      Wait 2-3 weeks, call them back up and say you were at the car parking lot which is like, 4 floors above ground, and you tripped and it flew over the edge. You couldn’t find the phone, and it landed on concrete, so it’s most likely broken.

      See if they will take it then!

      • finbar says:

        Thats what I would do. No, actualy I would have assumed the hassle and claimed the phone lost from the get go. Honesty is generally not the best policy when dealing with the corporate overlords.

  2. josephbloseph says:

    Regarding that last bit at the end where the OP was recorded asking what would happen if he intentionally destroyed the phone; the OP is an idiot.

  3. Coffee says:

    Honesty is consistently punished in our society. Now, there is a note on his account that his phone is not replaceable due to the activation. This is why, when I have a question, I call from my neighbor’s house using a voice garbler and ask all my questions “hypothetically”. After reconnoitering is finished, I call as myself and tell them that the phone was destroyed in a tragic phishing accident.

  4. homehome says:

    The last part he did was stupid. That’s what happens when you get emotional and try to show ppl up, you end up shooting yourself in the foot.

  5. CrazyEyed says:

    I’d call their bluff and tr again saying you lost the phone. Or better yet, damage it and say the damage caused the malfunction. If they want to go through all the work in finding the recording and placing it as evidence, tell them you misspoke. I doubt they will go through all the trouble for a typical insurance claim. There’s nothing in those insurance riders saying you can’t lose it/damange it after it malfunctions. Just as much as insurance can be arbitrary, bite back with arbitrary statements and actions of your own

  6. Blueskylaw says:

    This isn’t a house that is being insured, it is a simple phone. A phone can either be lost, damaged, stop working, or be stolen. What is so hard about this that insurance can’t cover a phone that stops working?

    This isn’t advice, it’s just a crazy, wild thought of mine: If the phone somehow did get accidentally lost or stolen, then even with the recording, they wouldn’t be able to prove the OP did it.

    • jimbo831 says:

      I can’t speak for Verizon, but at T-Mobile, you can buy two products: insurance and extended warranty. You can also get “Complete Handset Protection” that bundles the two. I would assume Verizon offers the same and the OP declined the extended warranty. If not, Verizon doesn’t offer it. Either way, if he would have paid any attention to his insurance T&C, he would have known this was not covered and acted accordingly. This is why I refuse to buy handset insurance. It is a huge ripoff anyway.

  7. incident_man says:

    Suggestion to OP, since he lives in Chicago, why not try US Cellular? Cheaper on average than Verizon, same or better coverage, he’ll only have to sign ONE 2-year contract for each line, for the life of the account. After that contract is up, he can buy discounted equipment without having to “re-up” his contract.

    Disclosure: I have US Cellular; I gave up my Sprint SERO account for it and it was the best decision I made when it comes to cell service. I’ve tried Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and prepaid. By far, my experience with US Cellular has been the best.

  8. ScandalMgr says:

    There’s this website called “Craigslist” on this thing called the internet, on which you can buy an exact replacement phone for $0.02 on the dollar.

    When I did this for my Palm Treo 650, I was awarded not only with a $25 phone, but also a phone memory full of bank account #’s and passwords, birth dates, drivers license, SSN’s, doctors, pharmacists, etc. Fortunately for the seller, who thought just removing the SIM card was enough, I did a factory reset and wiped it all out.

    • Willow16 says:

      I bought a phone on ebay that came with all the previous owner’s information and their email. I really can’t imagine anyone not thinking to reset the phone before sending it to a stranger. I reset it myself.

  9. cvstrat says:

    From the look of it Verizon has two insurance options, one that is a total coverage including out of warranty replacement, and a cheaper on that is simply insurance (similar to car insurance not covering general failure/reparis). It appears as though OP had the cheaper insurance.

    AT&T who uses the same company Asurion, only has one insurance premium but it always covers out of warranty failures.

    So it’s not that the insurance company doesn’t cover it, it’s that he elected, or unknowingly chose, the cheaper option which only covers theft/loss/accidental damage. It’s not Asurion’s fault in this situation.

  10. Sir Geek says:

    Drop Verizon, Go with a Pay as you go phone. You can get a nice android phone for 89.99 and its 35/month (Unlimited Text/Data and 300 voice) from Virgin Mobile. And NO CONTRACT.

    • incident_man says:

      But your coverage is ONLY on Sprint’s towers…NO roaming for you. Of the nationwide carriers, only T-Mobile has worse coverage.

      Sprint’s data speeds are ridiculously slow, which is why I left Sprint, along with their lack of coverage.

    • crazydavythe1st says:

      Does anyone else consider “NO CONTRACT” to not necessarily be a good thing? Most of the prepaid companies have been nice about it, but what’s to stop Virgin Mobile from doubling your bill next month?

      • Geekybiker says:

        Whats to stop you from leaving next month if they do? And believe me the other prepaids would love to have your business. That’s the beauty of portability and no contract. They actually have to compete on a month to month basis.

      • pythonspam says:

        I started on what they currently call the $35 plan (300/unlimited text/unlimited data) last April paying $25 per month. I am still paying $25 per month. They may adjust rates for new customers, but currently seem to be okay with grandfathering in current customers because they know that you can take that CDMA phone (that you own) to another discount carrier anytime you please.

  11. az123 says:

    Hey verizon does actually offer extended warranty coverage for $2/mo, though you need to sign up for it when you get the phone… in addition to your insurance :)

    To be honest the phone insurance is a rip off like most of those, basically you are paying them the cost of getting a new phone over a couple years and will get a refurbished phone if your’s is lost etc… better off just tossing the money you would spend into a savings account to purchase a replacement phone

  12. Rob says:

    FYI, your auto insurance doesn’t cover you if the transmission falls out of your car either.

    • frank64 says:

      Good point.

      • diagoro says:

        Not related….When you purchase a car, there are many car insurance companies and options. Also, many car manufacturers compete with each other over their warranty terms (ie, Hyundai and their 100K mile warranty).

        With cell phone companies you’re locked into whatever terms they consider convenient at the time. It’s like with their service, they can refuse you for any reason and at any time….”it’s in the contract”.

  13. ovalseven says:

    Call Verizon and say, “Never mind. I replaced the battery and it works fine now”.

    Call again tomorrow and tell them you lost the phone.

  14. ThumpinD says:

    Buy a cheap old RAZR on eBay for >$40 and activate it on your account. No contract issues.

  15. Moniker Preferred says:

    I find it interesting (but not surprising) that this website is so often about inDUHviduals who live in this world, but don’t understand much about it.

    Does the complainant try to get his car insurance company to fix the engine in his car, too?

  16. shufflemoomin says:

    You’re paying $7 a month in insurance for an old worth next to nothing?

  17. callenjr says:

    Can’t he just buy a Verizon Wireless Prepaid – Samsung u360 from Worst Buy for $9.95 and be sone with it….and stop paying for insurance?

    • iesika says:

      I have a friend who did exactly this when his phone broke – picked up a prepaid phone for under $10 bucks and put in his sim card, and viola, new phone.

    • TornadoRex says:

      No you can only activate a Verizon pre-paid on a post-paid account if it’s been active on a pre account for more than 6 months.

  18. callenjr says:

    Can’t he just buy a Verizon Wireless Prepaid – Samsung u360 from Worst Buy for $9.95 and be done with it….and stop paying for insurance?

  19. Bill610 says:

    So he got insurance, then something happened to his phone that explicitly isn’t covered by that insurance, and he’s upset because they won’t cover it anyway, and thinks he should have lied to get a benefit he doesn’t deserve. What am I missing here?

  20. crazydavythe1st says:

    Slightly off topic – but in Illinois, being told halfway through the conversation that you are being recorded can be illegal if they didn’t tell you upfront. Besides, it doesn’t matter if you are being recorded. You can still lose your phone. Oh, and drop the insurance. Is it really $7/line or $7 total? If it’s $7/line, take that money and put it in a savings account to cover these accidents.

    Anyway, there are a number of prepaid cellular companies that use Verizon’s network. If you have to buy a new phone anyway, you might as well do that. If you do decide to stay with Verizon, I’d try to call and cancel when your contract is up and see what they offer you to stick around.

    • StarKillerX says:

      i doubt very much that she wasn’t told she was being recorded until that point of the conversation, and instead I think it’s more like that the “This call may be recorded” message has become so common that many callers ignore it or simply block it out.

      • Anne Noise says:

        Agreed, I can’t think of a single customer service call in the past decade that didn’t start with, “Your call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.”

  21. frodolives35 says:

    We have an old verision lg flip phone that is 6 years old that still works fine. My wife just had to have a new touch screen phone so now we have a pos samsung phone she hates plus a contract for another 1 1/2 years. If it ever breaks we will just activate the old phone as I will never have another 2 year contract again no mater how much my wife whines for a new phone. 20 years ago I never imagined I would be paying $100 bucks for communication devices.

  22. DudeIncognito says:

    Pretty unfortunate situation, but I am shocked at the amount of people suggesting to the OP that he commit insurance fraud for a freaking cell phone. Wouldn’t work at this point anyways – with all the conversations OP had with Asurion and Verizon about the state of his phone I’m sure his account has been flagged for possible insurance fraud risk.

    So bottom line – OP is upset because his 2 year old phone stopped working and no one will replace it for free. OP also inferred that he would commit insurance fraud while talking TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY and then is flabbergasted that they reminded him his statements were being recorded.

  23. NotEd says:

    How can they prove it wasn’t accidently damaged, instead of malfunctioned?
    Perhaps the damaged caused no cosmetic issues but resulted in some internal failure?