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Smartphone Insurance From Asurion: A Good Deal?

Consumers love their smartphones. The convenience is a huge benefit: email, contacts, photos, calendar, travel directions, and plenty of customized, personal data readily available 24/7/365 at your fingertips wherever you go. How should you protect yourself if your smartphone is lost, stolen, or breaks?

Some consumers go it alone and pay out-of-pocket to replace their smartphone when it is lost, stolen, or breaks. Some consumers pay for smartphone insurance from a company named Asurion. The Asurion website presents an impressive description and benefits:

"... 60 million phones are lost, stolen or damaged each year. Without insurance, the average cost of replacing your phone is $300! Our coverage protects you from phone loss, theft and damage (even water damage). We offer fast, easy replacement with overnight shipping to any address you choose... Over 90 million wireless customers around the world just like you are protected by Asurion. Asurion partners with North America’s top 5 nationwide wireless carriers, many regional providers as well as other worldwide wireless companies to help customers get a replacement phone quickly..."

Asurion covers a variety of mobile devices: cellphones, smartphones, and tablets. A Mobile Recovery app allows users to remotely lock and wipe a stolen or lost smartphone.

When Wenner Exius bought his Android 2 smartphone in October 2010 with service from Verizon Wireless, he signed up for the smartphone insurance from Asurion which Verizon had arranged, and paid $6.99 per month premium. I happen to know Wenner personally, as we were coworkers at a digital agency in Boston about six years ago.

This summer, Wenner suffered a broken leg that forced him to work from home during his recovery. As a copywriter at a digital ad agency in Chicago, working from home was an option as he had a laptop and smartphone. While working from home, Wenner's Android 2 smartphone stopped working. Wenner contacted Asurion and received the following email:

From: Asurion - support@asurion.com
Date: Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 8:30 AM
Subject: Asurion Confirmation.
To: wenner.exius@...

"Dear WENNER EXIUS,

Thank you for contacting Asurion and filing your claim with us. Our mission is to help you reconnect with your world quickly, easily, and at a cost far less than paying full price for a new device! For your convenience, simply click on the links to the right to obtain all the information you will need as you move forward with your claims process. You should also receive a separate shipment tracking e-mail within the next 12 hours*.

For security reasons, please click here to retrieve your Claim ID. Once you are redirected to the website, simply enter your wireless number, the security code, and then click the “Forgot Claim ID?” button.

As a reminder, please return your defective device by using the return envelope provided within 15 days to avoid a non-refundable charge to your credit/debit card. Please note that this process does not apply for customers with a lost or stolen device.

If you experience any issues with your shipment you should contact Asurion within 7 days. Additionally your replacement device is under Warranty with Asurion so if you experience any operational problems with your device within the next year, please contact us."

Wenner filled out the appropriate paperwork, paid the $99 deductible, mailed his broken Android 2 smartphone to Asurion in the packaging provided, and waited for Asurion to send a replacement smartphone. When the replacement arrived, he started using it immediately. Like many consumers, Wenner never turns off his smartphone. It stays on for days or weeks at a time. When he did turn off his replacement smartphone, it wouldn't turn back on again.

Wenner contacted Asurion again to return and replace his defective replacement smartphone. Asurion denied this request, stating its policy that he did not contact Asurion within 7 days about a defective replacement smartphone. No credits either.

To get work done at home, Wenner paid $200.00 out-of-pocket for a new smartphone since he couldn't get a working replacement smartphone from Asurion. Wenner is dissatisfied with Asurion's customer service, partly because of the economics. His total payments to Asurion:

$76.89 (11 months X $6.99/month premium)
+ $99.00 deductible
$175.89 total (for a non-working replacement smartphone)

The payments are about the same as what Wenner paid for a new smartphone. He questions the benefits of smartphone insurance with Asurion insurance provides, since he doesn't have a working replacement smartphone from Asurion. He admits that he contacted Asurion about the defective replacement smartphone after the 7-day period, but believes that the company did not adequately explained the 7-day limit. As proof, Wenner cites the above email he received from Asurion.

To learn more about Asurion, I visited the company's website and was frankly underwhelmed. First, the only policy readily available online was the privacy policy. The terms and conditions policies for its various insurance products seem to be available only behind the log-in function. Why the secrecy? Users should be able to easily and quickly access the policies and terms for their insurance products. Across providers, consumers should receive similar or the same insurance coverage.

Second, the Asurion website is all about claims and not for prospective customers. Links about claims dominate the home page. It does not appear that an individual consumer can sign up for an insurance product directly at the Asurion website. Consumers must sign up through their mobile service provider. So, I visited Verizon's website, selected "Illinois" and searched the website for information about Asurion. The Verizon website returned this search result:

Search results page at Verizon Wireless Illinois website

I selected the "Total Equipment Coverage" link above, and the Verizon Wireless website displayed a detail page about the smartphone insurance plan Wenner purchased:

"Total Equipment Coverage offers combines the benefits of Asurion’s Wireless Phone Protection with the Verizon Wireless Extended Warranty program and is now enhanced with Asurion’s Mobile Recovery on compatible devices. If your device or covered accessories are lost, stolen, damaged or experience a mechanical or electrical defect after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, you are protected.

Advanced Devices
- $6.99 per month per covered device.
- $99 non-refundable deductible per approved claim.
- 2 replacements in a 12-month period with an equipment maximum of $1500 per claim (in New York, 2 claims per policy year)

Replacement devices may be remanufactured equipment. If the same model is not available, a comparable model will be provided. You may cancel at any time and receive a prorated refund of your monthly fee. For a list of equipment in the Phones, Advanced Device and Tablet programs, please visit Asurion's website or call Asurion at (888) 881-2622."

This page was somewhat helpful, but it didn't mention anything about the 7-day limit by Asurion. A document at the Asurion-Verizon website seems to include the smartphone insurance plan terms and conditions (1.9 MBytes, PDF) for the plan Wenner purchased. Section 2H mentions a 60-day period for late claims. I did not see anything in this document about the 7-day period deadline for notifying Asurion about defective replacement smartphones.

I tried to contact Asurion about the 7-day notice policy and to get the company's point-of-view on the situation, but emails to the company went unanswered.

I re-read the above email and the last paragraph in it does not seem to clearly convey Asurion's position about what happens when users do not contact Asurion within the 7-day period. There also seems to be some ambiguity in the email about exactly when the 7-day period starts. Does it start from the date of the above email message, or when Wenner received the replacement smartphone? Regardless, that is not much time for a consumer to fully inspect and test a complicated device such as a smartphone; especially when the replacement is a different brand and/or model.

Wenner wants his $99 deductible back since he never got a working smartphone from Asurion. He plans to cancel his smartphone insurance with Asurion.

I began to wonder if Wenner's experience with Asurion was unique. A quick search of the Internet discovered stories from many other consumers who experienced customer service problems with Asurion. While the company has an A+ rating by the BBB, actual reviews and experiences by customers tell a different story. The Consumer Affairs website lists numerous complaints about refurbished replacement equipment, damaged replacement equipment, and incorrect billing issues. Many of the stories are similar to Wenner's.

You can read more experiences reported by customers at Ripoff Report. In November 2010, BusinessWeek reviewed Asurion and reported:

"Some accident-prone owners—and parents of phone-toting kids—praise the sense of security Asurion provides. Consumer advocates, though, almost uniformly say the insurance isn't worth the extra expense... Those refurbished phones may not even work that well. Robert Nissenbaum, owner of Blue Ridge Wireless Cell Phone Repair Center in Tucson, Ariz., sees many used phones from Asurion and other, smaller insurers..."

Is this smartphone insurance plan from Asurion a good deal? You'll have to decide for yourself as your mobile usage habits probably vary. Some people are harder on the equipment than others. In my opinion, this Insurance plan coverage is weak for the following reasons:

  • Asurion doesn't guarantee new equipment and delivers re-manufactured equipment
  • Asurion doesn't guarantee that the same make and model smartphone will be available as a replacement
  • Consumers are limited to two replacements per 12-month period. A smartphone is a high-use mobile device prone to abuse (e.g., drops, weather, liquid spills) and theft
  • Full disclose seems spotty. Neither company's website provides easy access to the full insurance plan terms and conditions for prospective customers. The above Verizon copy directs users to the Asurion website and the Asurion website requires customers to log in to view the terms and conditions
  • As Wenner's experience showed, the amount he paid in insurance premiums just about equaled what he paid for a new smartphone
  • Based on the Asurion website pages and documents I have seen, the disclosure of terms and conditions seems sloppy
  • The experiences reported by Asurion customers describe questionable customer service quality

What do you think? Is smartphone and mobile device insurance from Asurion a good deal? If you signed up for smartphone or tablet insurance from Asurion, please share your experiences.

[Update: Sept. 15: Wenner reports that Asurion has contacted him and now claims that they never received the original defective Android he sent to them.]

[Update: Sept. 20: I received the following email from a representative at Weber Shadwick, the public relations agency representing Asurion:

From: Kokoruz, Aaron (DAL-WSW)
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 12:35 PM
To: ivebeenmugged@earthlink.net
Subject: Asurion Sept. 14th Blog Post

Dear Mr. Jenkins,
I am emailing in regard to your September 14th blog post about Mr. Exius’ experience with Asurion. First and foremost, allow me to extend my sincere apologies for the frustrations that Mr. Exius felt. We understand that losing or breaking a mobile device is a stressful situation for anyone, even more so for Mr. Exius coping with a broken leg and the need to work from home. We always work hard to ensure our customers have a positive experience and we’d like to do what we can for Mr. Exius.

Every year we provide millions of customers with replacement phones so that they can reconnect with family and friends as quickly as possible. We ask every customer with whom we interact to rate their experience. Any customer expressing dissatisfaction is contacted by Asurion for more information. Happily, most customers are pleased with our service and value. However, we realize in this case we didn’t meet the customer’s expectations.

We carefully review the feedback we receive online and appreciate the details that you provided in your blog. We take your comments seriously and will use the opportunity to speak with Mr. Exius directly to further discuss his experience and see how we might provide better service going forward.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Kind Regards,

Aaron Kokoruz on behalf of Asurion
Account Supervisor
Weber Shandwick
1717 Main Street, Suite 1600
Dallas, TX 75201"
]

Comments

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Xzomnia

Not worth it! I'm sure that I'm being scammed out of my smart phone replacement this very moment! I took my phone into the Sprint store who told me I would have to deal directly with Asurion through www.phoneclaim.com I filed my claim, with the website stating that I would have my new phone, an Evo 3D, replacing an Evo 4G, within 24 hours. I have never heard anything back. No verification email. The website allows you to "track your claim". I have, it has stated that they don't have my device and will send me a verification email within 1 to 3 days. Nothing has happened for two weeks. This all, after paying the fee every month for 1.5 years and paying the 100 dollar deductible. I think I can fix my phone for about 75$ worth of replacement parts and small cell phone tools. I want a full refund. I don't even care if they send a phone at this point. I want my money back for services never rendered. I have seen enough complains on the internet, does anybody know any lawyers looks for a class suit? I'm ready.

Sarah

Asurion insurance is a big joke. After spending several hours with a representative that I couldn't understand, I was hung up on. Asurion had sent me a phone that was defective, and then proceeded to tell me that in order to receive a replacement for my replacement, I had to pay an additional deductible to the one that I had initially paid for the defective phone. I can "assure" you this, Asurion is a total scam and not worth the $6.99 a month they charge.

GWEN NEWTON

ASURION IS NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF REPLACING PHONE. THEY WOULD RATHER COLLECT A FEE AND NEVER PAY UP. THEY SEND YOU THROUGH A SLEW OF RED TAPE, BLUE TAPE, YELLOW TAPE AND ANY OTHER COLOR THEY CAN FIND. THEY ARE NOW DISCRIMINATING AGAINT ME BECAUSE I AM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN DECENT. THEY STATED THAT MY ID PICTURE WAS TOO DARK. MY NEXT STOP IS AN ATTORNEY.

Danielle

We just went through an issue with Asurion also, fortunately at this point it appears they are going to fix the issue. I had my original phone for almost 2 years. I don't replace my phones often, usually once every 4 years or so. We have had Verizon for 8 years, have 6 devices on our plan, and each of them have the Asurion equipment coverage on it. So we've spent somewhere around $3500 in total for our equipment protection. We have filed a total of 3 claims in that entire time, and paid a $50 deductible all 3 times, so there's another $150 we've given Asurion. I'm not sure how much it costs them to send us the refurbished replacement phone, but I'm guessing it's not much more than $100 tops. Bottom line, they've made a killing off of just our measly 6 devices. The most recent claim we filed was the end of January 2012. My phone began having display issues and finally, the display completely quit working. I filed a claim as I wasn't quite ready to begin the search for my next phone, paid my deductible, and had my replacement device the next day as promised. I will give them credit, it came quickly. 2 days later, the replacement phone lost the display. I called Asurion, was put through different trouble shooting steps, and finally was told they would send me yet another replacement. 2 days ago the 2nd replacement device lost it's display. I took the liberty of going through the trouble shooting steps from before, reset the phone, and the display worked. For a day. This morning, again the display was gone. Deciding this was getting ridiculous, I called Asurion, explained everything that had occurred and informed them I'd simply like to return this device and get a refund of my deductible--I'd just purchase a new phone after all. Who needs to continue going through this nonsense, right? I was then told that since I hadn't contacted them within 7 days of the ORIGINAL claim, I would be getting no refund. They'd be more than happy to send me yet another replacement device and even consider sending me a different type of phone, but no can do on the refund. We went around and around about this for a few minutes until I asked to be transferred to a supervisor. I explained the situation to the supervisor and added this: If you do not refund me my deductible amount, not only am I going to dispute the charge with my credit card company, I am also going to cancel the equipment protection on all 6 of the devices on our account. Would you rather give me back $50, or lose around $500 per year? Your choice Asurion. After placing me on hold for several long minutes, the supervisor finally came back and said he would be doing the paperwork to have my deductible refunded and would be sending me a prepaid envelope for the faulty device. At this point, I haven't received the refund, and am curious if that will actually happen within the 7-10 days he promised, but if not I will simply do what I explained to him was his only other option. Cancel it all and dispute the charge. I am beginning to think canceling is the better option regardless.

dbeck

We've had total equip coverage for every phone that all 5 of us has had over the last 4 years. I have had one claim, my husband has had 6.

We've never had any problems because we understand 1 - what insurance is
2 - what it covers
3 - how to file a claim

Read and know what you are paying for, you can cancel it if you don't want it.

As for the person who says they've paid $3500 in total for the insurance and gripes because there is a deductible - how much do you pay for car insurance, homeowner's insurance, health insurance - do you have a deductible when you file a claim? Isn't $99 to replace a smartphone better than $400?

Some people will complain about anything.

Bill Leland

The poster above must be a company hack. The person paying $3500 was complaining for the lack of a usable phone being delivered under the insurance program after TWO phones had been sent. THEN he wanted a refund.

On the boards we would call you a troll. Now troll, GET LOST.

I found this site while in the process of filing a claim for my HTC Incredible that was lost in a Motorcycle accident. I've had my contract just over 2 years with this phone. I can buy one ebay for around $80 or pay Asurion $99 and possibly experience what these people have gone through.

I am buying at ebay and cancelling Asurion. It appears Asurion is only cost effective (assuming they replace your phone with an exact, working, identical phone) for not more than one year on a new phone.

getaclue

I agree with dbeck. If you did your research and understood what you were paying for you'd get it. I paid full retail price for my Samsung Galaxy S 2 because I didn't have an upgrade available. Before taxes $499.99. I pay $8 per month for my Asurion replacement and have been paying it for the last 2 years for both my previous phone and my current phone with Sprint. A few months ago I filed my first claim with them and paid a deductible of $100. Let's see $100 or $499.99. I'd much rather pay the $100. Or I suppose I could've bought a phone off eBay or craigslist that has no garauntee to work properly. I know everyone's experiences can be different but I haven't had a single problem with my replacement phone and they did send me the exact same model. People tend to forget that the reduced price they purchase a phone for with a contract is not the retail price of the phone. Let's face it, we're no longer dealing with the basic phones we used to. These phones are mini computers and highly advanced pieces of technology. Some people just want to complain about something so they pick something minor. This article was clearly written from the narrow minded view point of one single consumer who was never even a customer. Do your own research and use your brain.

sk

I totally agree with everyone on here. I have had insurance on 2 phones for 7-1/2 years and have spent at least $1400 on it and have only had 3 claims in all this time. I put a claim in 2 weeks ago but for whatever reason-oh yea they say to protect & verify me and my account..hmmmm I have to fill out an affidavit and send a copy of a gov't issued photo id only (driver's lic). Why is it then that they ask you for your sprint pin#?? That isn't enough in itself to verify you?? And when questioned as to why they need this they cannot give me an explanation just state to protect you and your account. They need a better script!! Well I'm paying a deductible and if the damaged phone isn't returned I'll be charged additionally so how are you protecting me?? Why wouldn't you just take the info from the phone (imei # etc) and verify it with sprint?? I can also give you other verification-I had a claim in July 2011 (never had to do this for that claim & was told that I was lucky and probably slipped thru the cracks) so I'll give you all the information from that claim and the info on the phone that YOU sent me-nope not good enough. So I uploaded the information on a Monday. By Friday I hadn't heard anything so I called. The person I spoke to states that the form was all legible except the cell # that the claim is in regards to and the copy of my license was too light but you could read the cell number on there. Hmmm..for anyone who has had to fill out this affidavit you know you have to put a daytime & nighttime phone number and your e-mail address on it. So if you couldn't read the cell # then why didn't someone contact via the other ways that were all legible??? Mind you, it was all written with the same pen at the same time. So this time I wrote another one and used a black sharpie and once again uploaded it. I e-mailed my husband the first uploaded files from our computer. He has an iPhone and opened the files and the documents are TOTALLY legible including my license. So now here I am waiting another week at least per the asurion representative (and still paying for my sprint service and data for a device that isn't even working)since they will not pull my docs up as they are processed in the order in which they are received which can take anywhere from 24-48 BUSINESS hours!!! What happened to BUSINESS DAYS and what is a BUSINESS hour???? How many BUSINESS HOURS are in a day 2, 4, 8, 12?? Unknown of course. But here I go I have a claim in already and instead of trying to expedite it since its already been 2 weeks I have to wait like I'm filing a claim and sending the info for the first time. Real nice. Why can't they pull up the case# that's given to you when its uploaded and look at the docs?? Its basically another way for them to drag their rears and not process a claim since they think they got you by the gahones and either you do as they say or your screwed. As soon as this is taken care of, I'm dropping the insurance. This is way too much of a hassle and waste of my money. I can get a phone from elsewhere (ebay or craigslist) pay the same amount and not be waiting for a replacement and spending money on service that isn't being used. If only they could be regulated one way or another by the gov't or some agency since everything else is. Also, they have 1001 BBB complaints in the last 3 years & 579 of them are in the last 12 months alone!! check for your self..buyer beware..save your money as if you were paying the insurance & if something happens to your phone you will have the funds available. In the meantime I guess I have to wait to see how long it takes for my claim to go through..will keep you posted :)

sk

ok i'm back again :( I called them on Monday 4/30 because I was on their website & it stated that they reviewed my affidavit on 4/27 at 10:55pm cst and to call. So I did & spoke with melissa who said the new phone would be shipped out within 1-3 business days and I would get a tracking # by e-mail. She asked how I wanted to pay the deductible & I asked to have it billed to my sprint account. She said ok & that was it. Well here it is Friday 5/4 and still no e-mail. So I'm on the phone with them. First spoke with Shawn who put me on hold & when she came back stated that the rep I spoke with took a manual claim and now I have to speak to a specialist. I was put on hold & now spoke with Armese who stated that they need further documentation (affidavit). WTF?? I did it & it was approved a WEEK ago!! She says oh ok hold on. Gets back on the phone & states that ok I will get it on Monday. As for payment, credit debit or prepaid credit card. I asked to have it billed to my sprint account as I asked again. She said that's not an option. Are you kidding me?? I put the extra payment onto my sprint account already since any claims I've made have always been paid that way. And why didn't Melissa tell me on Monday that I couldn't do that????? All to try and get a phone that I'm entitled to. Really people?? For anyone reading this..do yourself a favor and sock the money under your mattress every month instead of giving it to them cause you will have nothing but migraines and high blood pressure from trying to deal with them. Called sprint who worked on my account then transferred me over to asurion and its not in their system yet & they don't know how long it takes to update to them..gotta call sprint back again..i'll keep you posted..what a headache!! :(

Venkata

I am paying asurion insurance for my HTC sensation 4G. my phone got wet and when i called customer care they said they will replace with samsung galaxy s not S2 as they don`t have HTC phone. i was very disappointed now i realized that the insurance i just trap. can i stop paying insurance after receiving new phone from asurion.

E. Green

At least with Verizon, you can drop your insurance at any time and they will even pro-rate credit if it's in the middle of your billing cycle.

Nickwk

I just filed a claim for my lost iPhone 4s. After filling out the affidavit and sending in all the other paper required I get an email saying its being processed. Also they are sending me a new carrying case with it. Anybody know if the case is decent case and not a piece of junk?

Busy Sylvia

Smartphone Insurance is really necessary and useful. Nowadays, many people buy products through their smartphone.

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