With T-Mobile’s(s Tums) attractively-priced pre-paid wireless plans stealing customers, other carriers are looking for ways to distinguish their postpaid offerings and add value. Starting Friday, AT&T will offer a comprehensive device insurance program which covers three devices, even if they’re not connected to AT&T’s network.
The insurance program, called Multi-Device Protection Pack, starts at $30 per month and is offered through AT&T’s long-term insurance partner, Asurion. The plan covers loss, theft, and damage. $30 is significantly more than the current mobile insurance option AT&T sells, which costs $7 per month.
In exchange, you get to cover three devices, instead of just the phone you bought from AT&T. One of the devices must be a phone, tablet, or MiFi on an AT&T postpaid plan. But the other two can be unrelated to your mobile plan: Laptops, iPads, and some Kindles are eligible to be insured, too.
If you lose your device, you’ll naturally have to pay a deductible. These start at $50, but most devices will have a $200 deductible. However, as the value of your phone or tablet depreciates over time, your deductible will go down as well: After six months, you can save 25 percent off a deductible. After a year, your deductible cost will be half of what it was.
At first blush, this doesn’t seem like a great deal. At $30 per month, over the course of a 2-year contract, a customer will pay $720 on top of whatever the contract costs. That’s enough — even without the deductible fee — to buy a unlocked iPhone 5S, for example. And although AT&T officially says the plan comes with six claims, Asurion has been known in the past to bring up fine print in order to unfairly deny claims.
What’s worse is that the plan doesn’t even cover a bunch of devices you likely own: Although AT&T claims the program includes devices running OS X, according to the most recent device eligibility document, there isn’t a single MacBook included. In fact, most of the laptops which are eligible are older netbooks for which the cost of the deductible is comparable to the cost of buying a new cheap laptop. While we could eventually see more expensive computers added to the list, if you were looking for back-door Applecare, this isn’t it.
The complete list of supported devices can be found here and the terms of service can be found here. Look through them carefully to figure out if you’re enough of a fumble-fingers for this plan to make fiscal sense.