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Opinions differ on whether extended warranties for electronics and other expensive items are worth the cost. But the peace of mind that comes with having phone insurance if your hand slips and the device splatters may be priceless. SquareTrade, a company that offers phone insurance, found that 30 percent of iPhone owners had accidentally damaged their phones within the prior 12 months. While the cost of repairing a cracked screen is about $50, if your phone drops in water (which almost always means goodbye) replacement costs easily top $600.

Many sites that offer consumer guidance, including, generally recommend against shelling out for extended warranties. As Consumer Reports has found, some items, such as appliances, rarely break down before an extended warranty expires -- and if they do the cost of repairs is often less than that of the warranty. However, the devices we can't live without -- smartphones, tablets, laptops -- can be knocked out of commission by a spilled cup of coffee, a restless child, or slippery fingers. These products are the best candidates for warranty coverage because of their high risk for damage and high replacement cost. We compared phone insurance plans for the latest iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy Alpha and settled on Protect Your Bubble as the best iPhone insurance and SquareTrade, in combination with a Costco membership, as the best insurance provider for the Samsung smartphone.

In our search for the best cheap phone insurance (i.e., one that provides excellent coverage at wallet-friendly cost), we were surprised to find just a few options. In addition to the companies listed below, we also checked out Warranty Life, which offers similar coverage at a slightly lower cost, but could not reach anyone to confirm plan details -- which told us enough right then. Mobile Rhino was another that caught our eye as an iPhone insurer that covers theft and loss in addition to damage, but there is no coverage for non-Apple phones.

Note that insurance plans generally must be bought within a few weeks of the phone's purchase. Protect Your Bubble stands apart by agreeing to cover any phone that was bought within the past three years.

iPhone 6 16GB ($649) Warranty with Accidental Damage Coverage
Deductible (accidental damage)Accidents CoveredWater Damage Coverage
Apple Care+$99/two years$79Two per coverage periodYes
Geek Squad (advanced plan)$199/year or $9.99/month$150Unlimited; phone may be replaced when third "qualified" repair is requestedYes
SquareTrade$99/two years; $129/three years; or $5/month$75three per coverage periodYes
Protect Your Bubble$5.99/month$50UnlimitedYes

Galaxy Alpha 32GB ($612.99) Warranty with Accidental Damage Coverage
InsurerCost/Coverage PeriodDeductible (accidental damage)Accidents CoveredWater Damage Coverage
Geek Squad (advanced plan)$199/year or $9.99/month$150Unlimited; phone may be replaced when third "qualified" repair is requestedYes
SquareTrade$99/two years or $5/month$50 if phone purchased at Costco; $65 if phone purchased at Sam's Club; $75 everywhere elseFour (Costco and Sam's Club) per coverage period; three everywhere elseYes
Protect Your Bubble$6.99/month$150UnlimitedYes

When Your Phone Is Damaged.

Even a day without a mobile phone can be stressful, which is why the time between accident and replacement is critical when deciding on the best cheap phone insurance. If you live near an Apple store and are enrolled in Apple Care, technicians can hand over a replacement right away after assessing the damage. At Best Buy, Geek Squad ships the phone to a repair center and requires a deposit for a loaner phone (if available). Both phone insurance packages include the cost of shipping the damaged device to a repair location if you choose not to bring it to a store.

With Geek Squad you wait longer for a replacement because the damaged device must be assessed before next steps (i.e., repair or refurbished replacement), which can take seven to 10 business days. Apple places a temporary charge on your credit card and immediately sends a replacement. even before receiving the broken phone. Protect Your Bubble offers a similar process: For damaged phones, the company overnights a replacement along with a prepaid envelope for sending back the damaged device.

Although SquareTrade lacks retail locations, it lets you take the phone to a local repair shop and send a copy of the receipt for reimbursement. If the local repair shop says the phone can't be fixed, you can request a replacement be sent through overnight mail. The company also lets you request a reimbursement for the retail price of a new phone if you decide not to repair yours.

Best iPhone 6 Insurance.

After comparing each of the three low-cost iPhone insurance options, Protect Your Bubble emerges the winner. With this plan you get the convenience of a low deductible, unlimited claims, and having a replacement phone sent overnight. SquareTrade is the runner up with the second-lowest deductible, a reasonably priced plan, and the convenience of bringing your device to any local repair shop. AppleCare+ can overnight a replacement phone to you but it only allows two repairs. Geek Squad fell out of the running with a high deductible and slow turnaround time.

Best Galaxy Alpha Insurance.

The best phone insurance for the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is SquareTrade when the phone and coverage are purchased together at Costco. In this case, the deductible is $50 and the number of allowable claims is four. Buyers at Sam's Club are entitled to four claims, as well, but the deductible rises to $65. If you buy the smartphone and insurance from other vendors, the deductible climbs to $75 and you're only allowed three claims. The SquareTrade plan lets you bring the broken device to any local repair shop and gives you the option of receiving a replacement phone, shipped overnight, if yours can't be recovered. Protect Your Bubble is an acceptable alternative because it allows unlimited claims, but with a $150 deductible it's hard to get too excited about the plan. Geek Squad's $150 deductible and higher premium knocks it out of contention.

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