Buying a phone on a contract provides many people with a way to get an expensive smartphone along with voice and data packages. Good contracts do not inflate the cost of the phone significantly over the contract period, and even people who can afford the cost upfront at least consider going this route.
What Should You Do If You Lose Your Phone?
However, what happens if you lose your phone with months or years still to pay? Do you have to continue paying the contract, even as you’re required to buy a brand-new phone?
Your provider is not just going to let you off the hook. The best-case scenario is that you have insurance that covers lost phones which will pay the cost of your phone. You can use this payout to prematurely close your contract (which will come at a fee) or simply buy the best new phone and continue paying off the old one.
Before you get to that point, there are some steps you should take to try and avoid potential problems.
There is a case to be made for getting the insurance offered by your mobile provider. They are administering the contract, after all, and will have all the relevant information when you make your claim. They will be able to tell you what your insurance covers in terms of the remainder of your contract, and may offer you alternative plans.
However, the insurance from your mobile provider is inefficient at best and a rip-off at worst. The reason for this is that insurance is not their industry. They offer this service in the hope that they can make some extra cash from their clients. In reality, they are being underwritten by an actual insurance agency, but instead of dealing directly with the insurer, you have to go through a middleman.
It is also important to be aware that you may well already have insurance for your phone. Renters insurance, as well as homeowners insurance, covers your possessions, and your phone is included.
If you suspect your phone has been stolen, having a contract with a mobile provider may actually help. You can try tracking your device, but if you cannot find it, that does not mean a thief will be able to use it. Many mobile providers tie the device to their service, and this can make it useless for someone not registered with them.
Speak to your contract provider about how to remotely ‘brick’ your phone when you believe there is no chance of getting it back. They will help you ensure your data is not stolen and the thief does not benefit from your device.
But what happens if your phone gets stolen and you don’t have insurance? Maybe you can’t afford to pay out the rest of your contract or buy a new one. If so, you will have to look at some alternatives which are far from ideal.
Check if your old phone still works, even if it is a few generations outdated. You may have to make do with that for a while. Ask your friends and family members if they have a spare phone they’re no longer using. You can also look online for second-hand phones, although you will usually end up paying over-the-top prices for phones that don’t function nearly as well as they should. They also won’t come with any sort of warranty or recourse if they stop working.
If you can’t get an old phone, you could try to get a second contract for a less expensive phone. This is a worst-case-scenario solution, as you do not want to be indebted to mobile providers for two different phones, especially since you are only in possession of one.
A contract does not give you any sort of immunity for losing your phone. You should have insurance that covers the cost so that you can get a replacement without having to spend your hard-earned cash.