published Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Phillips: I insure my cell phone, but not new TV or PC


by Ellen Phillips

Q: I know you’ve written on “regular” insurance, but I don’t recall seeing anything about “special” insurance (i.e. for cell phone damage). Can you tell me a bit more about these protections? — Peter Planning

A: Dear Mr. Planning: What you’re referring to, I believe, are nonessential insurance plans and, just as the term implies, it’s not as necessary that you provide protection for certain properties as say, life or health insurance. That said, even though lots of folks may disagree, a couple of these policies certainly can help take the sting out of a lost or stolen “bite.”

• You mention cell phone insurance, which is a good place to start. I’ve purchased this policy ever since the time on vacation several years ago when my cell phone dropped in the cup of coffee. The old advice to remove the battery and cover it overnight in a dish of uncooked rice didn’t do the trick. As soon as I returned home and armed with a new phone, I became a savvy subscriber and pay $5 monthly, which is a cheap deal for me.

On the other hand, some people don’t agree with buying insurance. Unfortunately, an insurance company may replace the phone with a refurbished model rather than with a new one. The critics’ best advice is to skip the policy and tuck away enough cash to cover the necessary repairs or to buy a new phone.

• I’d never take a vacation without travel insurance. Because I’ve been on a trip when my husband experienced a terrible medical problem that necessitated us coming home ASAP, I learned the importance of this type of insurance.

Not only does a policy cover trip cancellation, but also medical evacuations. Just recently, a group of neighbors planned a cruise. All had purchased travel insurance.

Just a couple of weeks before embarking, one couple canceled because of their own illness, and another couple canceled because of a mother’s illness. You can bet your sweet bippy they were all thrilled to be compensated a couple of thousand dollars.

• I’ve noted extended warranties in a past column. This kind of policy can be a real worry in deciding whether or not to put out the money. By boosting the price of an item (a TV set or a computer other other appliance) by about 20 percent, it’s rarely worth the money spent. After all, whatever breaks doesn’t usually do so during the time period covered. However, this is a use-your-best-judgment decision.

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at under Local Business.

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