I’ve always considered myself to be a careful person and I take good care of my belongings. That is until I accidentally dropped my LG phone in a huge bowl of miso soup recently in Singapore.
It all happened so quickly I was petrified — never mind that I had a screen protector and phone casing. Luckily, I had an old spare phone which I could use so I did not have to spend money getting a new handset.
This made me feel bad for a while, until I discovered I was not the only klutz in Singapore.
A 2015 survey by research firm Otterbox that covered 2,500 respondents across Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia found that Singaporeans were the most clumsy of the lot and were 10% more likely to drop their phones on the floor!
Other key findings include:
- 31% of smartphone owners in Singapore confessed to damaging their smartphones while walking along the street because they were not paying attention to their surroundings.
- 38% of local users said their smartphone was likely to be damaged within the first three months of use.
- 41% of local users said that they were currently using a damaged smartphone.
- At the time of damage, 80% of local users believed that their smartphones had some form of case or protection.
What does mobile phone insurance cover and who provides them?
Mobile phone Insurance, like any other kinds of insurance, will typically compensate you in the event your device gets stolen, lost or damaged. There are two main types of mobile phone insurance:
a) those by mobile phone insurance providers
b) those by local telco operators
Here’s a rough price list based on an Apple iPhone X but do note this may vary depending on the type of phone you’re carrying and how old it is.
Mobile phone insurance by insurance providers
|Mobile phone insurance providers||Coverage||Premium/mth|
|Citibank Lifestyle Guard (AXA)||Theft/damage to all personal belongings, worldwide||$17.20|
|DBS Mobile Protect (Chubb)||Loss/damage of mobile phone, cash withdrawn from mobile wallet||$15|
|PhoneProtect360 (HL Assurance)||Theft/damage, express ‘repair service’ and replacement||$12|
|igloo Insurance (FWD)||Covers only damage to phone screen||$3.33|
Citibank Lifestyle Guard
Citibank’s Lifestyle Guard provides worldwide coverage for your personal belongings 24/7, both at home and abroad. Some of the items covered include mobile phone, laptop, camera and even sunglasses!
Underwritten by AXA Insurance Singapore, the premiums are affordably priced at $199/ year or $17.20/month, inclusive of GST. You can also enjoy 12 months of extended warranty for new eligible equipment purchased using your credit card.
Mobile Protect by DBS
Underwritten by Chubb Insurance, DBS’ Mobile Protect is a comprehensive plan which covers the following:
- Cash withdrawn from mobile wallets such as PayLah! (up to $100 per claim)
- Replacement of important documents due to robbery
- Loss, accidental damage, and theft
- New and existing phones (up to 3 years old)
- Unauthorised transaction and usage of airtime and data
- Worldwide protection (including Singapore)
Note that Mobile Protect only covers up to 3 events of phone damages per year. There is a deductible of $75 per repair and $150 for phone replacement.
PhoneProtect360 by HL Assurance
PhoneProtect360 is mobile insurance coverage for your Singapore-registered phone that’s underwritten by HL Assurance, a member of the Hong Leong Group. It’s an annual plan which covers your registered device for 12 months. The policy will commence from the date of application, and will only insure phones bought for less than a year from the date of purchase from Singapore telco operators, exclusive distributors and manufacturers of mobile phones.
PhoneProtect360 insures your mobile phone against accidental damages, including liquid damage, for repair costs of up to $1,000. If your phone is wrecked to the point it is beyond fixing, you can get a new replacement. You can get door-to-door ‘Express’ repair service.
However, it does not cover cosmetic damages which are defined as damages that don’t affect the normal operation or functionality of the mobile phone e.g. scratch marks, dents or discolouration. You can also enjoy worldwide protection during your travels.
Igloo Insurance by FWD
Igloo Insurance by FWD is the most basic of phone insurance plans as it only insures your phone screen and does not cover damage to the rest of your phone or loss of your smartphone.
Mobile phone insurance by telco operators
Local telco operators also provide mobile phone insurance when you buy your new phones with them. In terms of coverage, they are usually more basic (repair and replacement due to cracked screens, water damage) than the more comprehensive insurance plans offered by insurers.
The replacement fee or swap fee of your replacement device is based on the recommended retail price and your current subscription plans.
A like-for-like swap or replacement means (as compared with your original enrolled device), a device which:
- is of a similar kind, quality and functionality
- is new or refurbished
- will have the same or greater memory
- may be of a different brand, model and/or colour
- is delivered in plain packaging marked “not for resale” rather than original manufacturer’s packaging
- does not include any device accessories
Here’s a price comparison of the most basic plans:
|Local telco plans||Coverage||Premium/mth|
|Circles Life PhoneProtect||Device repair, replacement||$7|
|M1 FoneCare+||Device upgrade, repair, replacement||$8.50|
|Singtel MobileSwop Unlimited||Device replacement, swap||$9.90|
|StarHub SmartSupport||Device replacement, swap||$12|
Circles Life PhoneProtect
The virtual telco’s PhoneProtect mobile insurance plan starts at $7 a month and covers cracked screens, water damage or damage beyond repair. Underwritten by HL Assurance, you can apply for the plan through Circle Life’s mobile app. Claims are also made through the app by filling out a form. The plan also offers a convenient door-to-door repair and replacement service.
M1 FoneCare+ basic plan starts at $8.50 a month and offers an early handset upgrade, door-to-door device swap or replacement/delivery within 4 hours.
Singtel MobileSwop Unlimited
Singtel’s MobileSwop Unlimited plan at $9.90 per month (inclusive of GST) allows you unlimited swaps and one handset replacement every rolling 12 months. The plan is charged to your Singtel bill, with every sign up of a Combo Plan unless you choose to opt-out.
Note that each like-for-like mobile device has a six-month warranty against manufacturer malfunctions and defects that starts from the date of delivery.
StarHub’s SmartSupport plan starts at $12/month and covers device replacement or swaps within four hours islandwide. This can be done twice over 12 months.
Do you really need mobile phone insurance?
With high-end smartphones from Apple and Samsung these days easily costing over S$2,000 – more expensive than a short getaway to Japan or Korea! – it’s really worth thinking about mobile phone insurance and if you need one.
Here’s some food for thought to help you decide:
1. Know thyself
Whether you are a working adult or someone in your late teens, you must have owned at least five or more mobile phones by now. Ask yourself, how many mobile phones have you dropped since you have started owning these devices. If you’re the butter finger sort, maybe you should consider getting mobile phone insurance this time.
2. Cost of your mobile phone
If your smartphone costs over $1,000 and the cost of repairing the damaged phone is worth a small bomb, then it’s worth considering getting mobile phone insurance.
Take for instance if you insure with Citibank Lifestyle Guard: the premium is $199/ year and it also covers your other belongings. It does not seem like a huge sum to pay, considering the combined value of all your insured possessions.
3. Nature of your job
Do you have to spend a lot of time outdoors and are you exposed to the elements? Are you also in the construction line, have to operate a lot of machinery and have to use your smartphone a lot while you’re in the job?
Chances of damaging your mobile phone are higher compared to people whose jobs are more desk-bound.
4. Do you lead an active lifestyle?
Do you enjoy the outdoors and lead an active life? Do you like hiking and activities such as canoeing, sailing, rock climbing? If the answer is yes, there’s a high chance you may drop, lose, or damage your mobile phone, and getting an insurance plan makes sense.
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By Zann Huang
A recipient of the Magnum Foundation Emergency Grant in 2014, my photos from the Middle East and Asia have also been published in Time Magazine and Le Monde etc. My written work ranges from travel, politics (Mid-East) to the environment and finance-related matters.