The need for mobile insurance increases as smartphone dependence rises

04 AUGUST 2022

As we transition to our post-pandemic office and school set-ups, the importance of smartphones and gadgets has never been more amplified and relevant than right now. The country’s smartphone market grew by 22.6% in 2021. About 80% of working Filipinos prefer the new hybrid, internet-heavy set-up to the traditional office.

Beyond academic institutions and offices, smartphone use is shaping the way we spend our everyday lives and carry out routine tasks, like accessing job opportunities, financial services, online shopping, and social networks. Six out of ten Filipinos make their purchases and book their trips through mobile apps. According to one pre-pandemic survey, about 55% of Filipino children own a smartphone---and 80% of them prefer to surf the internet than watch TV.

Essential to life

Not surprisingly, this dependence on smartphones and gadgets has made their operability and safety a priority for a lot of people. The damage to a smart device can mean the difference in earning or losing income to breadwinners, making the grade for students, or doing a needed online conversation with a family member in another country.

“A phone that has suddenly gone dark or permanently off can be a nightmare, especially when it happens on a payday weekend,” recalls Kate Paulyne Tayco, 23, Social Media Manager of an online wedding business company. Tayco dropped her device on hard ground while vacationing in a remote town. “During that time, I could not do my usual thing of paying my bills or doing bank transfers through my smartphones. And because the ATMs in that town had run out of cash, and the banks and bayad centers were closed, I didn’t have spare cash to have my phone repaired.”

These unfortunate events are aggravated by the costly mobile repair costs. Replacement by buying a new one can be even costlier. Currently, a budget-friendly quality smartphone costs around P5,000 while a premium one can cost more than P50,000.

With smartphones becoming an essential device as well as an expensive investment, its protection through insurance has become a necessity, no longer an option. Mobile insurance provides gadget owners the coverage they need to repair a phone at the time of its damage. It can help quickly restore a phone’s full functionality in case of an accidental fall or damage. With that technical restoration comes opportunity and economic recovery.

Mobile phone insurance becomes more urgent as damage to the device can happen anytime, anywhere. Research shows that the most frequent accidents that occur to a smartphone involve its falling out of a pocket or dropping into the toilet bowl.

Mobile phone protection

Etiqa Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer, Rico Bautista, affirmed that smart gadgets, like health, property, and other aspects essential to our lives, need consistent, reliable protection through insurance: “Mobile devices are no longer seen as just a status symbol or used solely for work but have become a necessity, helping us to further our careers, businesses, and day-to-day activities. In securing them, the mobile insurance plans will ensure that the lives and activities of their users will continue with minimal disruption, even if these devices are damaged. This is aligned with our commitment to offering products and services that will make our customers’ lives easier.”

Mobile phone insurance falls under the category of Insurtech, which applies technology to the insurance industry. Technology makes online policy enrollment, checking or buying a plan, and topping up efficient, safe, and in real-time through digital platforms like GCash or Shopee. Other Insurtech examples include social insurance, data analytics as a method to understand consumer behavior and improve customer service, and the customization of policies for specific groups and organizations.

Southeast Asian Insurtech company Igloo has developed mobile insurance plans with Etiqa Philippines to ensure coverage for the phone screen and its functionalities (Phone Screen Protection plan) or the entire device (Full Phone Protection plan). However, these plans exclude cases where the devices have been experiencing gradual deterioration, stolen, or lost; damage due to malware, repairs, and servicing is also not included.

Tech-powered insurance

Customers also need to report any damage within 48 hours of the incident before making a claim.

The mobile insurance plans are designed to make them cost-effective while giving premium value to the wide demographic range of smartphone users, especially those who rely on them for their living. One plan, for example, is equivalent to paying for one small snack a month while its coverage amount is enough to buy an economical smartphone.

Technology is making both affordable and accessible the insurance coverage that protects the important aspects of our lives. It has extended that service to our all-around important tool and digital companion, the ubiquitous smartphone.

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