Vodafone Phone Insurance – beware of the new fine print

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 19-Dec-2011 07:40

I’ve been a Vodafone Phone Insurance customer now for around 12 years, joining (from memory) not long after they made the service available. In that time I’ve made two claims, one in 2001, and another in 2011, and in both cases found the service great – I lodged claims and within days had a brand new replacement phone. Overall I’ve been happy paying my premium each month for the service they provide.

Earlier this year Vodafone faced some criticism after a Target show criticised their policy of replacing some handsets with refurbished models. In late October a new policy document was sent out to all customers clearly explaining that refurbished handsets may be used as replacement. It now seems that Vodafone have taken things a step further, and on the weekend I received a letter from Vodafone explaining new changes to the Vodafone PhoneInsure policy. If a refurbished phone is sent out as a replacement, a lower excess will apply, and if you’re somebody who tends to lose or destroy phones on a regular basis, higher excess charges apply for a 2nd and 3rd phone claimed on within a year.

Apart from some other minor changes, Vodafone assure us (in bold) that “Everything else stays the same”.


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As a reader of fine print I started reading the included policy document and was shocked to see some other major changes to the policy, changes that Vodafone clearly don’t see as being significant enough to mention in the cover letter where they have told us that “everything else stays the same”

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According to the policy document cover is now only provided on a mobile phone that is purchased from Vodafone. This means any phone purchased overseas or from any other network or retailer in NZ will no longer be covered by Vodafone PhoneInsure. Previously the origin of handsets wasn’t an issue, and nowhere in previous policy documents was any reference made to handsets, other than Vodafone refusing to replace imported 1st generation iPhones with newer models.. Both of my historical insurance claims have been on handsets that were not sourced from Vodafone, so quite clearly this has never been an issue in the past.

Vodafone clearly don’t think this is an issue that’s important enough to mention in the cover letter, and clearly don’t think it’s a significant change (“Everything else stays the same”), but I consider this this a significant change to the policy, especially as it could result in people who are presently covered being ineligible to claim after these changes take effect in January.

If you’re a Vodafone PhoneInsure customer and use a handset that was not purchased from Vodafone then you’ll probably want to review your policy. Paying money each month when you’re not going to be covered isn’t a great idea!

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Comment by Mark, on 19-Dec-2011 08:15

Also worth mentioning is that the policy specifically does not cover the iPhone 4 or 4S. I found this out when I recently upgraded to a 4S and called Vodafone to change the phone under the policy. The (helpful and honest) Vodafone rep advised that the 4S wasn't covered, so did I want to just cancel the policy.

Author's note by sbiddle, on 19-Dec-2011 08:18

iPhone4's haven't been covered since they launched. This is specifically mentioned in the policy document, and has featured since the launch of the iPhone4.

Comment by jjnz1, on 19-Dec-2011 09:32

Vodafone Phone Insure is an over priced service and I dont understand why you or anyone else use it?

Back many years ago when it was around $7 month I had phone insure. I claimed once for a non data capable rugged phone which got destoryed, and that was painless when dealing with VF. My second claim which was aroung a year later, was for a $1300 samsung -the worlds smallest flip phone at the time. 
 The $1300 phone was pretty featureless, but it was expensive because of its size. This claim was a major issue. 

 Apparently, If yout phone was no longer for sale, VF used to replace phones with another phone resembling its features. So long story short, I made a claim, got told my pgone was no longer available, but they would give me another with the same features. This phone ended up being very crap, $300 worth, and not even small. 

So I ended up claiming on my contents insurance. Got exactly what I wanted. And I no longer had to pay per month for VF phone insure, just an excess of $125 when I needed to make a claim. (through State from memory).
 So my rant is: stop paying for VF insurance, and use your standard contents insurance. It's much cheaper, especially when you don't use it that often.

Comment by jjnz1, on 19-Dec-2011 09:35

Sorry about my spelling and grammar. For some reason it is very difficult to use GZ's text boxes through a tablet browser.  

Comment by Chris Hattan, on 19-Dec-2011 09:38

I rang Phone insure this am. Like you I have been a happy customer for many years. They reassure me that if you are an existing customer and have a phone purchased not from VF then you are still covered. However yes if you have purchased a new phone not from an VF outlet after the intro of the new policy changes then you are not covered. So looks like its bye bye Phone Insure for me

Comment by Dratsab, on 19-Dec-2011 10:00

I've never used Vodafone's phone insurance and never will. As has already been pointed out, if you lose your phone (or it's stolen) and have contents insurance you can claim from your contents providor. Why pay insurance for something that's already insured?

Comment by paradoxsm, on 19-Dec-2011 10:41

My advice, Cancel it and shop around.
If your contents policy is a basic one that doesn't include loss away from home, accidental damage or replacement value, get some quotes for a better policy. $11 a month would most likely upgrade any basic cover to a beter level of cover or it would go a long way towards a standard contents policy if you don't already have one.

You may pay a higher excess but the one claim I had with my contents policy was simple and painless and I got a new phone. I later got my old handset back and purchased it back from the insurance company.

The handset was the "cause" of the electric seat mechanism failing, a few scratches but nothing major.

Comment by GobbyNZ, on 19-Dec-2011 11:49

I think Vodafone Insurance are still useful for corporate purchased devices. Right??

Comment by jonb, on 19-Dec-2011 12:24

So it seems if you are a new insurance customer, with a non-vodafone bought phone you will never be offered Phone Insure. That should take care of that clause for most people.

For existing customers it looks like it's how you define 'purchase' - is that the initial purchase or the monthly purchasing of the contributions.   I agree I would want more than verbal assurance from customer services for personally bought phones on an existing policy.. in that sense it definitely isn't 'everything else stays the same'

Comment by antoniosk, on 19-Dec-2011 13:57

I think these changes are unique to Biddlecorp.... reflecting the outspoken controversial nature of their boss....

Comment by Vodafone Media, on 20-Dec-2011 09:33

Many thanks for all your comments. Seeing as their seems to be some confusion, I thought it would be useful to point out any inaccuracies in the comments. The changes indicated in the policy document do not apply to existing customers who purchased their policy before 5 December 2011. However existing customers will benefit from a much lower excess of $70 for standard phones that are repaired or replaced with a refurbished model. iPhone4 and iPhone4s are both covered by this new policy. For new policies purchased on or after 5 December we are no longer intending to provide cover for phones that are purchased from an unknown source. We have no control over the quality or origin of these devices. Just as before, PhoneInsure still covers you for damage, theft or loss of your mobile both in NZ and overseas. It also covers you for unauthorised use of your mobile if it is stolen. There has been no change to the premium price.

Comment by lopeti1, on 25-Dec-2011 16:54

I was disappointed with the new wording, Phone Insure is not what it usaed to be. it was not clear for me with my existing policy that i would be covered for my non Vodafone purchased phone....
"For new policies purchased on or after 5 December we are no longer intending to provide cover for phones that are purchased from an unknown source. We have no control over the quality or origin of these devices"
Ummm Vodafone?? ar'nt most mobile phones you source come from the same factories as the "Vodafone" branded ones?
I have a LG Thrill 4G and Optimus 3D both made in Korea (Optimus 3D is Vodafone branded)
And I'm wondering if the Refurbished replacements will always be "Vodafone" branded ....
I have cancelled my policy ... too many exclusions on the policy document and unanswered questions

sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at stevenbiddle@gmail.com