Finally, iPhone Insurance (Sort of)

A very common “feature” of many highly used iPhones are unsightly cracks in the screen. Since screen cracks are almost never covered by the iPhone warranty, an entire cottage industry has cropped up for iPhone screen repairs. Even Apple (s aapl) decided it wanted a piece of the pie, and now do (expensive) iPhone screen repairs. AT&T (s att) doesn’t offer any insurance for iPhones, but does for other smartphones. Obviously, this has to do with the high cost of repair combined with the likelihood of breakage. What’s a paranoid iPhone user to do?

Mission: Repair, one of the leaders in iPhone service, is now offering a program which bridges the gap between iPhone repairs and iPhone insurance.

The program, called a “Peace of Mind/Maintenance Performance Guarantee” will cover screen and other repairs to your iPhone. The terms and conditions are a bit lengthy and technically they can’t call it insurance or a warranty. Essentially, the program is a “pay in advance” system for iPhone screen repairs that in practice behaves like an insurance program.

You pay $19.99 for one year or $29.99 for two years and if your screen breaks, they repair it at no charge. For a bit more they’ll cover almost everything but the screen ($34.99 1 year/54.99 2 years) or combine the two (54.99 1 year/79.99 2 years). Unlike AppleCare, this program will cover accidental screen damage as well as iPhones or iPods that are already out of warranty.

Water damage is excluded and you have to ship your iPhone/iPod touch to them for inspection before signing up for the program in order to prove it is in good working condition (an iPhone App allowing you to test it yourself without sending the phone in to Mission: Repair is coming soon). The current requirement for advance shipping is a pain of course, but when I’ve had to do a repair before, I buy a cheap GoPhone and put my SIM card in there for a day. Additionally, users of the new program are required to install an iPhone screen protector and users are limited in the number of repairs per year. The closest equivalent is BestBuy’s $15 per month “BlackTie Protection” which covers pretty much everything. However, one only needs to pull out the calculator app to see that $180 is not a terribly good deal. AT&T’s insurance program for other phones is $60 a year, so Mission: Repair’s combined coverage program is competitive with AT&T’s offerings on other phones.

I’m sure others will pick up on the idea, but I’m glad Mission: Repair is taking the lead! I know what I’ll be giving as stocking stuffers to my risk-averse iPhone and iPod touch friends this year.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user christyxcore.