Mobile Phone Insurance

Get iPhone & Samsung cover for less than £7/mth

Break it, lose it, have your mobile nicked, and it can cause tears. Insurers play on this fear with hefty prices and unnecessary cover.

Yet you can get cheap mobile phone insurance cover from under £7 a month, to protect the latest smartphones available – including the iPhone 8 (including the 8 Plus) or Samsung Galaxy S9.

It's the same for most of the iPhone family (iPhone 7, 6s or SE) and only slightly more if you have the iPhone X or XR. For Android users, no worries – you can get the same cover and premium for its extended family (incl Samsung S8, S7, S6 or Edge).

The big checks: Do you need mobile phone insurance?

  1. Are you a loser?

    No insult intended, but it's important to understand mobile phone insurance isn't compulsory. Deciding whether to get a policy comes down to the fact that you know yourself better than insurers will. In particular, think about this:

    How likely are you to lose or damage your phone?

    If your mobile's been permanently clipped to your belt buckle for the last 10 years, the chances you'll lose or break it are slim. Alternatively, for social butterflies who don't know where they'll wake up, a broken or damaged phone (and a hangover) is par for the course.

    Unlike most insurance, mobile cover doesn't usually increase with a history of loss or damage. So those who rarely have issues are cross-subsidising losers. If you've painful memories of the handsets you've lost, insurance is worth considering. If not, think about self-insuring and/or covering your phones on your home insurance.

    Martin's a loser...

    I may be good at saving money, but I'm scatterbrained with keys and phones, too often leaving them as I rush from one place to the other. While I try my best, the truth is I've had more than 10 phones lost, broken or nicked in the last decade. As I know I'm a loser, I know insurance is a good bet for me, as it costs less than repeatedly paying for a new phone.

    - Martin Lewis, MSE founder & chair

  2. Can you self-insure?

    Self-insuring simply means rather than paying for insurance, you put money aside each month into a top savings account. This way if you lose your phone, you've got cash to pay towards a replacement.

    If not, the cash and the interest is yours rather than an insurer's. It's great for those who rarely lose or damage phones, though it isn't without its risks.

    To find out how much you should be saving, either ask your contract provider how much it would charge for a replacement handset or research the costs of buying a new handset – you should get a rough idea from a website such as eBay* (see eBay Buying Secrets).

    Quick questions

    • Modern smartphones, such as the iPhone, Samsung, Google Pixel, can cost many £100s to buy new when they're not subsidised by a contract. The current range of iPhones (such as the 8, 7, 6s, 6 Plus), Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+, S8, S8+ would easily set you back almost around £500 while the iPhone SE and Samsung Galaxy S6 are closer to £200.

      For owners of the iPhone X, they have a starting price of £900 (from £999 for the iPhone XS).

      Plus 18 and 24-month deals mean you could be locked in to expensive contracts for a long time without a phone.

      If you lose the phone early on it can be costly and the more expensive it is to replace, the less self-insuring is worth it – or at least couple it with a budget insurance policy.

    • Most manufacturers usually include a year's guarantee if the goods are faulty but it will not cover you against theft, loss or accidental damage, which is where an insurance policy comes into play.

    • While insurance protects you against phone thieves running up big bills, without it you'll have to shoulder the cost of calls made, and downloads of music, games, etc, before it's barred by your operator.

      So if you're self-insuring, report the loss or theft of a phone ASAP – err on the side of caution (see how to protect yourself against fraud).

    • It can be cheaper to get a new deal (see Cheapest Mobiles) than pay up for a replacement phone. Top-end handsets can be £100s cheaper if bought as part of a new customer deal rather than as a replacement.

      Speak to your current phone provider. It may also let you downgrade to its cheapest tariff to see out the remainder of the contract, minimising wasted spend.

    • It may be a wrench, but if you haven't scraped together enough money, it's time to consider temporarily downgrading.

      If you don't have your Sim card, ask your provider to replace it (it's often free or has a small charge) rather than the phone. Then pick up a pay-as-you-go or Sim-free phone – paying £10 for a basic handset is no longer uncommon.

      However, make sure it's on the same network as your Sim card, or get your phone unlocked (see the Mobile Unlocking guide for full details).

    • If your phone is broken and costs too much to fix, you may be able to recoup some money by selling it to a mobile recycling company. Most are happy to take broken handsets, though obviously they'll pay less than for fully functional ones.

      We've built a full, free comparison tool of the top players – use MobileValuer.com.

  3. Is it already covered by your home insurance?

    Most standard contents insurance only covers phones if they're lost in a home burglary or house fire. But some include accidental damage cover, which lets you claim for phones damaged at home.

    Also check for 'all risks' or 'personal possessions cover', which protects you against loss, theft or accidental damage when expensive items are taken outside the home. You'll usually pay about £25 to £50 a year on top of your annual premium for it.

    That is the good news. The bad news is there is usually a higher excess which can range from £100 to as high as £500 per claim. This sometimes renders the cover worthless if you need to claim – as the excess is greater than the claim amount. Plus there's the fact that any claim usually leads to the insurer reducing any no-claims discount from your price at renewal. In effect, it could mean higher home insurance prices for up to five years following the claim – on top of the excess you had to pay.

    So, if the mobile is an expensive model, claiming on your home insurance policy may be worth it. If you go for this option, always check the following:

  4. Does the age of the mobile phone matter?

    Yes it does. Many mobile phone policies usually have a condition that you can only start cover within six months of purchasing a new mobile phone. If you purchased your mobile over six months ago, getting cover can be difficult though Gadget Cover* will accept mobiles up to 18 months after the purchase date.

    You'll be able to let an existing policy renew each year but the age rule means you're probably stuck with that initial provider as your choice of mobile insurers reduces.

    With the major network providers, you get less time to decide whether to go with their policies, with them either wanting to know immediately or up to 28 days from the date of purchase of the mobile phone.

    An option if your mobile is over six months old and you cannot find a decent mobile phone insurance policy is to consider arranging cover via your home insurance policy and in particular the all risks or personal possessions section of the policy, which protects property outside your home. But do take into account a usually higher excess and the loss of any no-claims discount.

  5. Is it already covered by your bank account?

    While most top bank accounts are free, if you have a paid-for top packaged bank accounts it can be worth it IF you use the products bundled with it. The big three 'freebies' are breakdown cover, travel insurance and mobile phone insurance.

    However, if the only real bonus of the account is mobile phone insurance, compare the cost to getting insurance by itself. Some people pay more than £15 a month to cover a mobile when they could get it for £7.

    If it's not worth it, ditch to a fee-free bank account, or compare top packaged bank accounts and cheap mobile insurance. However, it's worth noting...

    If you have a joint account, it's likely to cover both partners' phones for one fee, so you can get 2for1 cover.

    Most banks don't need you to register your phone to ensure it is insured though Barclays insist you tell it, by registering, to make sure cover kicks in.

  6. Speedy replacement crucial? Use your network's cover

    All the mobile networks have their own insurance policies but it's usually not cheap so, in most cases it is best to avoid it. However, it's usually the quickest way to get a new phone with minimum hassle as they all send replacement handsets, rather than cash. So if you can't be without your phone it is worth considering.

    Here's a summary of the cheapest policies from network providers which will cover you for losing the latest iPhone 8 64GB.

    THE CHEAPEST NETWORK POLICIES
    TABLE_CELL_STYLE ANNUAL COST EXCESS REPLACEMENT PHONE SENT (1) UNAUTHORISED CALLS? WHEN MUST COVER BE ARRANGED
    Three £102 (2) £80 Next day No cover Point of phone purchase
    EE* £148 £100 Next day No cover No time restriction
    O2* £150 £70 3-5 days No cover Within 28 days of phone purchase
    Vodafone* £162 £79 Next day No cover Within 18 months of phone purchase

    (1) From date claim approved. (2) Excludes Loss or Theft.

    Always try haggling at renewal to see if you can get the insurance thrown in free. See the Mobile Haggling guide.

  7. What does the policy protect you against?

    Some policies cover you if you lose your phone or it's stolen but others only if it's stolen, so check the policy carefully to ensure you get what you need.

    A mobile phone insurance policy would usually protect you in case your handset goes walkabout, against "liquid damage" (eg, you spill water on it), or it gets smashed or snatched.

    Some policies will pay out for unauthorised calls (this is where a crook makes calls at your expense) and downloads.

    But do note that insurers have been known to refuse to pay out for theft in certain circumstances, eg, if a phone is taken out of someone's pocket while at a busy gig, saying this doesn't count as no force was used.

    Regulator the Financial Conduct Authority found in 2013 that many mobile phone insurance contracts had been mis-sold or complaints weren't dealt with in an acceptable manner – see the FCA crackdown guest comment. Many gadget insurance policies also offer to include a mobile but we think standalone insurance focusing on handsets represents better, more comprehensive, value.

    All our top picks below have confirmed their policies would cover you for loss and theft, as long as you weren't careless and made reasonable attempts to recover the mobile.

Best buys: Mobile phone insurance

If you've read what's above and you're sure you need cover, there's some good news. Unlike most other insurance, mobile phone cover doesn't depend on your gender, job, what you earn or other standard 'risks'.

Most even ignore whether you've claimed before – a huge bonus for serial losers, though this isn't universal, so check before you leap in. You can get Full cover for £70/year for almost the complete iPhone range (including the recently launched iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, but not quite for the iPhone X) and the Samsung S9, S8, S7, S6, and Edge range (including the 128GB versions).

Find your cheapest policy

Pick your handset from the following options:

Our cheapest pick is from Insurance2Go*. It will only insure mobile phones purchased within the last six months and covers many of the iPhone range (excluding the iPhone X and XS range - which costs slightly more to insure) up to the maximum value.

MSE Blagged: Use the code MSEIPHONE10 to get £10 off the annual premium on the already cheapest pick from Insurance2Go*. This brings the cost of the full cover policy to £80 a year (up to £100/yr for the iPhone 8 Plus 256GB).

To get the discount, you will need to pay the premium in full as the discount does not apply if you choose to pay the premium on a monthly basis.

Here's what you get:

  • Full: Covers accidents, liquid damage, theft and unauthorised calls (up to £1,000) PLUS loss of the phone. You also get overseas cover.

The excess – the amount you must pay of any claim – is £75 (increases to £100 for the 256GB iPhone 8). Feedback for Insurance2Go mobile insurance is available on our forum (please feed back if you have any experience with it).

  • Excess: £75 (£100 for iPhone 8 - 256GB)
  • Max value: £1,000
  • Max phone age to insure: 6 months at time of policy purchase
  • Cover abroad: 90 days/year
  • Replacement phone speed: Likely to take a few days
  • What do you get if you lose? Refurbished or new phone
  • Unauthorised calls: £1,000

Cheapest with 'instant' phone replacement

Here you'll need to go with insurance from your network, as standalone policies all generally take longer to reunite you with a handset. For an iPhone 8, here are the basic details of cover from the biggies.

THE CHEAPEST NETWORK POLICIES
TABLE_CELL_STYLE ANNUAL COST EXCESS
REPLACEMENT PHONE SENT (1)
UNAUTHORISED CALLS?
WHEN MUST COVER BE ARRANGED
Three £102 (2) £80 Next day No cover Point of phone purchase
EE* £148 £100 Next day No cover No time restriction
O2* £150 £70 3-5 days No cover Within 28 days of phone purchase
Vodafone* £162 £79 Next day No cover Within 18 months of phone purchase
(1) From date claim approved. (2) Excludes Loss or Theft.

How we pick 'em

We compared 40 policies to find a mix of low price and decent cover. There are horror stories in our forums about insurers rejecting claims, rendering policies useless, so we've excluded some cheap insurers with significant bad feedback. We can't vouch 100% for good service with anyone we include.

All our top picks below have confirmed their policies would cover you for loss and theft, as long as you weren't careless and made reasonable attempts to recover the mobile.

Having said all that, each insurance claim is reviewed on its own merits so please share and tell us your experiences.

Important note

With all insurers, check the policy cover carefully. You may feel you're getting full 'loss' or 'theft' cover, but restrictions do apply. See our What to check section.

  • While your first instinct may be to sob uncontrollably, many MoneySavers report success from visiting Apple stores. You may need to book an appointment, and it's not a dead cert that you'll walk away problem-free, but for the cost of some shoe leather, it's worth a try.

    We haven't heard of successes from users of other pricey smartphones in other manufacturers' stores yet – please tell us if you've any experience of this.

Also check... If you're insuring more than one phone or you're looking for cover for the whole family, the Nationwide FlexPlus account is worth considering. It costs £13 a month (£156 a year) and covers phones worth up to £1,000 each.

See Bank Accounts With Mobile Cover for more.

Cheapest with decent cover levels

Our cheapest pick with decent cover levels is from Insurance2Go*. It will only insure mobile phones purchased within the last six months. This link will cover the iPhone X and XS range up to the maximum value.

MSE Blagged: Use the code MSEIPHONE10 to get £10 off the annual premium from Insurance2Go*. This brings the cost of the full cover policy to £120 a year.

To get the discount, you will need to pay the premium in full as the discount does not apply if you choose to pay the premium on a monthly basis.

Here's what you get:

  • Full: Covers accidents, liquid damage, theft and unauthorised calls (up to £1,000) PLUS loss of the phone. You also get overseas cover.

The excess – the amount you must pay of any claim – is £125 for the iPhone X and XS range. Feedback for Insurance2Go mobile insurance is available on our forum (please feed back if you have any experience with it).

  • Excess: £120
  • Max value: £1,449
  • Max phone age to insure: 6 months at time of policy purchase
  • Cover abroad: 90 days/year
  • Replacement phone speed: Likely to take a few days
  • What do you get if you lose? Refurbished or new phone
  • Unauthorised calls: £1,000

Cheapest with 'instant' phone replacement

Here you'll need to go with insurance from your network, as standalone policies all generally take longer to reunite you with a handset. For an iPhone 8, here are the basic details of cover from the biggies.

THE CHEAPEST NETWORK POLICIES
TABLE_CELL_STYLE ANNUAL COST EXCESS
REPLACEMENT PHONE SENT (1)
UNAUTHORISED CALLS?
WHEN MUST COVER BE ARRANGED
Three £102 (2) £80 Next day No cover Point of phone purchase
EE* £148 £100 Next day No cover No time restriction
O2* £150 £70 3-5 days No cover Within 28 days of phone purchase
Vodafone* £162 £79 Next day No cover Within 18 months of phone purchase
(1) From date claim approved. (2) Excludes Loss or Theft.

How we pick 'em

We compared 40 policies to find a mix of low price and decent cover. There are horror stories in our forums about insurers rejecting claims, rendering policies useless, so we've excluded some cheap insurers with significant bad feedback. We can't vouch 100% for good service with anyone we include.

All our top picks below have confirmed their policies would cover you for loss and theft, as long as you weren't careless and made reasonable attempts to recover the mobile.

Having said all that, each insurance claim is reviewed on its own merits so please share and tell us your experiences.

Important note

With all insurers, check the policy cover carefully. You may feel you're getting full 'loss' or 'theft' cover, but restrictions do apply. See our What to check section.

  • While your first instinct may be to sob uncontrollably, many MoneySavers report success from visiting Apple stores. You may need to book an appointment, and it's not a dead cert that you'll walk away problem-free, but for the cost of some shoe leather, it's worth a try.

    We haven't heard of successes from users of other pricey smartphones in other manufacturers' stores yet – please tell us if you've any experience of this.

Also check... If you're insuring more than one phone or you're looking for cover for the whole family, the Nationwide FlexPlus account is worth considering. It costs £13 a month (£156 a year) and covers phones worth up to £1,000 each.

See Bank Accounts With Mobile Cover for more.

MSE Blagged: Use the code MSE10 to get £10 off the annual premium on the already cheapest pick from Insurance2Go*, which will only insure mobile phones purchased within the last six months.

The code can be used for the entire range of the Samsung Galaxy, including the latest Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, which was launched in March 2018, and the S8, S8+, S7 and S7 Edge, the S6 (32GB, 64GB and 128GB version) and S6 Edge (64GB and 128GB model). Using the code brings the cost of the Full policy to £70 a year.

To get the discount, you will need to pay the premium in full as the discount does not apply if you choose to pay the premium on a monthly basis.

Here's what you get:

  • Full: Covers accidents, liquid damage, theft and unauthorised calls (up to £1,000) PLUS loss of the phone. You also get overseas cover.

The excess – the amount you must pay of any claim – is £75. Feedback for Insurance2Go mobile insurance is available on our forum (please feed back if you have any experience with it).

  • Excess: £75 (£100 excess for the Samsung S9 Plus)
  • Max value: £1,000
  • Max phone age to insure: 6 months at time of policy purchase
  • Cover abroad: 90 days/year
  • Replacement phone speed: A few days, at least
  • What do you get if you lose? Refurbished or new phone
  • Unauthorised calls: £1,000

Other smartphones (incl. Google Pixel)

MSE Blagged: Use the code MSE10 to get £10 off the annual premium on the already cheapest pick from Insurance2Go*. It will only insure mobile phones purchased within the last six months.

This brings the cost of the full cover policy to £70 a year.

This particular offer doesn't apply to iPhones but you can get the same £70 Blagged deal using this alternative Insurance2Go* iPhone link but this time use the code MSEIPHONE to get £10 off the annual premium.

To get the discount, you will need to pay the premium in full as the discount does not apply if you choose to pay the premium on a monthly basis.

Here's what you get:

  • Full: Covers accidents, liquid damage, theft and unauthorised calls (up to £1,000) PLUS loss of the phone. You also get overseas cover.

The excess – the amount you must pay of any claim – is £75. Feedback for Insurance2Go mobile insurance is available on our forum (please feed back if you have any experience with it).

  • Excess: £75
  • Max value: £1,000
  • Max phone age to insure: 6 months at time of policy purchase
  • Cover abroad: 90 days/year
  • Replacement phone speed: A few days, at least
  • What do you get if you lose? Refurbished or new phone
  • Unauthorised calls: £1,000

Cheapest with 'instant' phone replacement

Here you'll need to go with insurance from your network, as standalone policies all generally take longer to reunite you with a handset. For an iPhone 8, here are the basic details of cover from the biggies.

THE CHEAPEST NETWORK POLICIES
TABLE_CELL_STYLE ANNUAL COST EXCESS
REPLACEMENT PHONE SENT (1)
UNAUTHORISED CALLS?
WHEN MUST COVER BE ARRANGED
Three £102 (2) £80 Next day No cover Point of phone purchase
EE* £148 £100 Next day No cover No time restriction
O2* £150 £70 3-5 days No cover Within 28 days of phone purchase
Vodafone* £162 £79 Next day No cover Within 18 months of phone purchase
(1) From date claim approved. (2) Excludes Loss or Theft.

How we pick 'em

We compared 40 policies to find a mix of low price and decent cover. There are horror stories in our forums about insurers rejecting claims, rendering policies useless, so we've excluded some cheap insurers with significant bad feedback. We can't vouch 100% for good service with anyone we include.

All our top picks below have confirmed their policies would cover you for loss and theft, as long as you weren't careless and made reasonable attempts to recover the mobile.

Having said all that, each insurance claim is reviewed on its own merits so please share and tell us your experiences.

Important note

With all insurers, check the policy cover carefully. You may feel you're getting full 'loss' or 'theft' cover, but restrictions do apply. See our What to check section.

Also check... If you're insuring more than one phone or you're looking for cover for the whole family, the Nationwide FlexPlus account is worth considering. It costs £13 a month (£156 a year) and covers phones worth up to £1,000 each.

See Bank Accounts With Mobile Cover for more.

Cheap policy, low limits. A good add-on to self-insuring

You can get a dirt-cheap policy from Gadget Cover*, more suited to less snazzy, more functional non-smartphone handsets with a £250 maximum cover level. This is a decent option if you're self-insuring and want a little boost on top.

However, if you lose it, you need to pay £50 excess towards a claim, so you need to factor that in. Here's what you get:

Non-smartphone with a £150 maximum cover level

  • Theft, accidents and repairs: from £33/yr
  • All of the above, AND loss: from £44/yr

Non-smartphone with a £250 maximum cover level

  • Theft, accidents and repairs: from £44/yr
  • All of the above, AND loss: from £55/yr

You need to name the phone you have and its value, and it tells you the price, which increases for pricier handsets. Don't think about skimping and using this to cover a more expensive gadget, as the likelihood is it just won't pay out.

Beware – little feedback

Be warned that not all budget providers receive good feedback – let us know your experiences in the forum discussion. As always, check if you are covered on your home insurance as you may already be protected.

  • Excess: £50 
  • Max value: £250
  • Max phone age to insure: Up to 18 months
  • Cover abroad: 180 days/year
  • Speed: Likely to take a few days
  • What do you get if you lose? Refurbished (not new)
  • Unauthorised calls: £2,500

Cheapest with 'instant' phone replacement

Here you'll need to go with insurance from your network, as standalone policies all generally take longer to reunite you with a handset. For an iPhone 8, here are the basic details of cover from the biggies.

THE CHEAPEST NETWORK POLICIES
TABLE_CELL_STYLE ANNUAL COST EXCESS
REPLACEMENT PHONE SENT (1)
UNAUTHORISED CALLS?
WHEN MUST COVER BE ARRANGED
Three £102 (2) £80 Next day No cover Point of phone purchase
EE* £148 £100 Next day No cover No time restriction
O2* £150 £70 3-5 days No cover Within 28 days of phone purchase
Vodafone* £162 £79 Next day No cover Within 18 months of phone purchase
(1) From date claim approved. (2) Excludes Loss or Theft.

How we pick 'em

We compared 40 policies to find a mix of low price and decent cover. There are horror stories in our forums about insurers rejecting claims, rendering policies useless, so we've excluded some cheap insurers with significant bad feedback. We can't vouch 100% for good service with anyone we include.

All our top picks below have confirmed their policies would cover you for loss and theft, as long as you weren't careless and made reasonable attempts to recover the mobile.

Having said all that, each insurance claim is reviewed on its own merits so please share and tell us your experiences.

Important note

With all insurers, check the policy cover carefully. You may feel you're getting full 'loss' or 'theft' cover, but restrictions do apply. See our What to check section.

Also check... If you're insuring more than one phone or you're looking for cover for the whole family, the Nationwide FlexPlus account is worth considering. It costs £13 a month (£156 a year) and covers phones worth up to £1,000 each.

See Bank Accounts With Mobile Cover for more.

Best buys: Bank accounts with mobile cover

While most top bank accounts you get free, some top packaged bank accounts can be worth it IF you use the products bundled with them. The big three 'freebies' are breakdown cover, travel insurance and mobile phone insurance.

The real boon here is if you hold a joint account with a partner, then both of your phones are protected without you having to pay twice. Here are the big banks' cheapest accounts that include mobile insurance.

Our top pick

Best bank account for multiple phones

If you want to cover all the family's phones, the Nationwide FlexPlus* account costs £13 a month and has top customer service. It also pays 3% AER interest on balances up to £2,500, beating other top savings accounts, and has a 0% arranged £250 overdraft. It's available online, in branch or by phone/post.

Need to knows
  • Mobile phone insurance covers repair or replacement after theft, loss, damage or breakdown, for all handsets up to £1,000 per phone.

  • Phones belonging to family members living at home are included. (Children must be under 19, or 22 in full-time education, and can't be married or in a civil partnership. If they're at uni, the cover only applies at home out of term time.)

  • A worldwide family travel insurance policy for the year, including winter sports cover, travel disruption and golf cover. The cheapest you could get this for elsewhere is £60, but for a top value policy you could pay more than £150 per year (see the Travel Insurance guide).

  • UK & European breakdown cover is also thrown in.

To see how this compares, read the full top packaged bank accounts guide.

Nationwide's packaged accounts with benefits have been our top picks for a few years so please share your experiences.

Excess: £50 (£100 for iPhones)
Max value: £1,000 per phone
Age of phone: Unlimited
Cover abroad: Yes
Speed: A few days
New or replacement? Either
Unauthorised calls: Up to £2,000
Document: Summary of cover

The best from the rest of the banks

If you're not going for our top pick from Nationwide above, here you'll find a selection of the best policies around from the rest of the banks.

HOW POLICIES FROM THE BANKS COMPARE
BANK ANNUAL COST HOW MANY PHONES? STANDARD EXCESS MAX CLAIM PER PHONE
Barclays 
Tech Pack
£150 Two (or four with joint acc) £75 £1,500
Halifax 
Ultimate Reward
£180 One (or two with joint acc) £100 iPhones (1) 
£30 others
£2,000
Lloyds 
Silver
£119 One (or two with joint acc) £100 iPhones 
£50 others
£2,000
NatWest 
Reward Silver
£144 One (or two with joint acc) £100 No limit
(1) For theft or loss claims.

There are two big things to be aware of when getting mobile insurance through your bank:

  • It's NOT as quick as mobile network cover.

    The big phone networks specialise in getting a phone out to you ASAP, but here it's likely to take a few days at least. Though, unlike the standalone insurers, they at least have high street branches you can complain to if they really drag their feet.

  • You may need to activate the insurance.

    Scandalously, opening the account and paying your fee sometimes isn't enough to make sure you're covered. With certain banks, Barclays for one, require you to give extra info to activate the cover.

Cashback sites may pay you for signing up

As an extra boon, members of specialist cashback websites can be paid when they sign up to some financial products. Do check that it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account. 

Full help to take advantage of this and pros & cons in our Top Cashback Sites guide.

What to check before getting a policy

  • You might think this would be simple, but how your phone gets replaced can vary depending on the company.

    Most will deliver a replacement phone to you. But you're NOT guaranteed a new phone or even the same model – it depends what's in stock. If the insurer has your type of phone, you'll most probably receive a refurbished/reconditioned phone or an alternative 'equivalent' model (taking into account its age and condition).

    Alternatively, insurers may choose to give you a cash equivalent. As a rule, if it can't get you the same phone as your original, it should call you to discuss how you'd prefer to settle the claim.

    If your phone is damaged and not lost or stolen, then if you're covered insurers will try to repair it rather than simply give you a replacement, so get set to be mobile-less for some time.

  • The 'excess' is the amount you'll have to pay towards the cost of a new phone or repairs before the insurer pays the rest. If the cost of repair or replacement is £100, and you have a £25 excess, the insurer will only pay £75.

    Unlike home or car insurance – where you normally receive the amount of the claim, less the excess – mobile insurance claims are dealt with differently. You'll usually need to send the excess payment to the insurer before the claim will be settled.

    Excesses vary depending on the phone, the type of claim and if you've made a previous claim with that provider. So don't presume the same excess always applies. It may increase for subsequent claims, or if you need to claim while abroad.

  • If you usually pay by instalments, some standalone insurers will ask for the remainder of the premium to be paid in full before they will settle a claim.

    This differs massively from other insurance policies, but it doesn't affect your ability to claim on the policy for the rest of the year. If you lost your phone again, you could still claim (though some limit you to two claims per year). It's important to check how your policy works, as if this is hard for you to budget for, self-insuring may be better.

  • It isn't just your handset you need to think about if it's lost or stolen. Don't forget the cost of rogue calls and downloads can run into hundreds of pounds before you notice your handset has gone missing. Plus being without a phone can delay you from contacting your network provider to slap a bar on all outbound calls.

    From that point, you'll usually be covered for the cost of unauthorised calls, but you'll usually need to have reported it missing within at least 24 hours. That's cut to 12 hours with some providers, such as Cheaper Gadget Insurance and BeMobile.

    You'll also need to tell the police if the phone is stolen or lost. Again, do this ASAP and ideally within 24 hours to avoid any difficulties when claiming.

  • While it's rude to ask how old a lady is – and sensitive men too! – your phone's age matters. Some insurers will only accept mobiles under six months old, but others insure handsets which are three years old, so check yours is eligible before you buy.

    Where the age of the hand holding the phone does matter is if it's a child. Generally, they won't be covered until they are at least 16, and maybe older. So again, don't buy cover if you won't be protected, and try self-insuring instead.

  • Unfortunately, the mobile insurance market is becoming well-known for some providers erring on the side of NOT paying out, and thinking up increasingly slippery excuses why they don't owe you a new phone.

    Some insurers refuse to pay out for theft if a phone is taken out of someone's pocket while at a busy gig, saying this doesn't count as robbery as no force was used.

    Depending on the insurer, known exclusions can be a long list. But here are some of the biggies. You may not be covered:

    • In the first 14 or 21 days of the policy
    • If you try to pimp up your phone, and it gets damaged in the process.
    • If you need to leave it in your car.
    • If your IMEI number, effectively your phone's serial number, has been tampered with.
    • If you do not supply, or have, the IMEI number. Some may want it displayed on the purchase invoice.
    • If you have a virus on your phone (see Antivirus For Mobiles for how to prevent this for nothing)
    • Data including contacts, downloads and photographs, isn't usually covered, so back up regularly for free.
    • If you've lost your receipt.
    • If you weren't showing reasonable care, for example, it was left on a cafe table when it went missing.
  • In 2013, the Financial Conduct Authority discovered many mobile phone insurance contracts were either mis-sold or complaints weren't dealt with in an acceptable manner.

    Now the regulator is working hard to make sure products and its practices are improved. See the FCA crackdown guest comment.

    If you think you've been sold an unsuitable product, had a claim unfairly turned down or you just feel your complaint wasn't taken seriously, take action and go to the Financial Ombudsman. See our Your Financial Rights complaints guide.

    Give us your feedback if you've complained to the Ombudsman about your mobile phone insurance policy and let us know if it was resolved.

How to protect your data

Losing your mobile phone can be a nightmare of lost data, photos and contacts. Yet there are a number of easy ways to protect your data for free.

Regardless of how expensive your phone is, the data stored on it can be mega-valuable, and it's near impossible to retrieve contacts, photos, apps, games, messages and more after losing a handset.

To beat this, use one of the following free services:

  • This type of back-up is becoming increasingly common, popularised by Apple's iCloud  system. You plug in and data is synched with a server, effectively saving it to be retrieved the push of a button. Always check you know exactly which info is being stored, and if anything important is missed, then use a different route to save that.

    These are the top methods we found:

    • iCloud

      Apple iPhone customers can use iCloud free – you simply select the option to set this up via iTunes (see how to turn it on). It stores contacts, settings, apps and more for you to retrieve when needed.

    • Android back-ups

      These are a bit more complex, and it's not our specialist area. Take a look at this step-by-step guide on giant tech website Lifehacker for how to go about doing this.

  • Most modern phones will be supplied with a cable and some software to connect them to your computer. This software is usually designed to sync calendars and address books, but you can use just it to store numbers.

    All smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone, Samsung, etc. - now have a dedicated back-up service, but these usually store stuff on the PC, not online, which could be a worry if your system crashes.

    Samsung phones use Kies (or Smart Switch for the latest S9, S8 and Edge range) and Blackberry uses its own Blackberry Desktop Software.

  • Increasingly, mobile networks themselves offer to store your data for free. EEOrange and T-Mobile users can all use the EE's Clone Phone service to back up their data.

    For Vodafone users, you can protect your phone's address book (and other content) with Vodafone Backup+. The android and IOS app is free but will affect your data allowance when not connected to Wi-Fi.

    The old-school pen and paper route

    For all the fancy new technologies that promise to save you time, there's still a whole lot to be said for a pen and little address book. Just remember to update the book occasionally with new numbers, and not to 'put it somewhere safe' which you'll then forget all about.

What if my insurer goes bust?

Insurers regulated in the UK are covered by the same Government-backed Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) as banks, meaning if they go into default, you're protected. There are two main ways in which it protects you.

  1. If you need to claim from a bust insurer

    The FSCS's main objective is to 'maintain continuity'. This means if your insurer goes bust, it will try to find another provider to take over your policy, or issue a substitute policy. However, if you have any ongoing claims, or need to make a claim before a new insurer is found, the FSCS should ensure these are covered.

  2. If it goes bust and you paid upfront

    If you've paid for cover for a year, but the company goes bust after a month or two, then you would lose out.

    To protect against that, if the FSCS can't transfer your policy to another provider, you'll be given a period of time to take out alternative insurance, and 90% of any money you've already paid will be refunded as compensation via the FSCS. To help explain, here's a quick example...

    You paid for a year-long policy in January and the insurer went bust in September. If the FSCS can't get the policy transferred elsewhere, then you will receive four months' worth of the original cost in compensation.

How to complain about your insurance provider

The insurance industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include claims either not being paid out on time or at all, unfair charges, or exclusions being hidden in the small print. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but if not then…

Free tool if you're having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will escalate it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com as that's usually quicker.

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