Consumer Reports: Pros and cons of cell phone insurance

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Nina Pineda reports on the pros and cons of cell phone insurance. (WLS)

Accidents happen, especially to our phones. And when a pricey smartphone takes a hit, it can amount to hefty repair costs.

What about insurance for your phone? Consumer Reports took a look to see if smartphone insurance is a smart choice for you.

There's a story behind every cell phone mishap, but what are the odds of a smartphone snafu happening to you?

In a recent survey, Consumer Reports found that over the last two years, half of the folks they surveyed had at least one major incident with a phone in their household. And if there are kids in the house, that goes up to 81 percent.

Without coverage, the average cost to repair a cracked screen for an Apple iPhone 8 is $145. For a Samsung Galaxy S8 PLUS, it's $277.

"Phones in general now are more expensive because they have more sophisticated components, which means if you break it, it's going to cost you a lot more to fix it," Consumer Reports tech editor Bree Fowler said.

Apple and Samsung sell their own protection plans. Apple Care+ for an iPhone 8 costs $129, and $199 for the iPhone X. Samsung Premium Care is $11.99 a month.

"Coverage plans from Apple and Samsung don't cover loss or theft," Consumer Reports money editor Margot Gilman said. "They're basically extended warranties, not insurance. So they cover things like cracked screens, mechanical failures."

You could also consider getting insurance through your provider. All four major carriers cover repairs, along with loss and theft, depending on the type of plan you select and your device.

But is cell phone insurance really necessary?

"The important thing is to know thyself," Gilman said. "You need to take a step back and ask yourself, 'Am I the kind of person who tends to lose things? Do I have teenagers who tend to lose or break things?'"

Consumer Reports' rule of thumb is if you feel like within a two-year period, you're likely to have two or more incidents occur to your phone, you may want to get insurance.

Consumer Reports also found that cracked screens are by far the most common repair need. About 30 percent of survey respondents said someone in their household had cracked their smartphone screen in the past two years.

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