Cell phone insurance leaves some customers confused - WSMV Channel 4

Cell phone insurance leaves some customers confused

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Most people have had their cell phone broken, lost or stolen at some point, so many of them now buy insurance to cover their devices.

However, that insurance doesn't always guarantee a new phone.

Whether they are dropped in a toilet or left on a car bumper, cell phones are being damaged at such an alarming rate that now some 60 million people have insurance on their phone.

The biggest cell phone insurance provider in the world, Asurion, is based in Nashville, and it has an A+ rating, but the Better Business Bureau says it is bombarded with complaints from people who filed an insurance claim with Asurion, got a replacement and then discovered their new phone isn't new at all.

"That is a big 'what' to most consumers," said Kathleen Calligan, president and CEO of the BBB of Nashville. "It may not be a new phone. It may be a refurbished phone."

It's all in the fine print. The insurance company has the right to give you a phone with refurbished parts. They even have the right to replace your phone with a different brand, model or color.

It's easy to see why people get confused. After all, the terms and conditions they agree to when they first purchase the insurance often span several pages. Unless they read them closely, the consumer may not be getting what they think they are.

"Sometimes, we'll hear customers saying, 'Well, I'm confused,' or 'I didn't have a deductible,' which is clearly called spelled out in the brochure just like other insurance programs," said Bettie Colombo, spokeswoman for Asurion.

Deductibles can run anywhere from $45 to $199, depending on your phone. As for getting a different model as a replacement, Colombo said that only happens about 15 percent of the time, when they have no other options.

"Our goal is to get you back in the same make and model. That is not always possible. If you think of technology, it's moving really, really fast today, and phones that were out 12 months ago, you couldn't go buy today," she said.

The insurance policy also states that if your phone is damaged in an event such as a nuclear attack or a war, those situations aren't covered by insurance.

The BBB reminds consumers that as mind-numbing as the contract may seem, your best bet is to always read the fine print up front.

Also, there are some other insurance options available such as Apple Care or even your homeowner's policy, but those also have fine print just like Asurion or other insurance companies.

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