Read this before you signup for Mobile Insurance

Buying any insurance needs your full attention. If you go by the advertisements or the sugar coated words of the salesperson, you are in deep trouble. Mobile insurance is a new concept in India. With the rising cost of mobile, the risks of damaging or loosing the mobile is also increasing. So naturally everyone who invests in an expensive mobile, would want to stretch a bit and pay for the insurance. Buying an insurance for the mobile should give solace to the anxious mind with an assurance that the purchase is protected from accidental damage or loss. Unfortunately it is not as simple as that and let me explain why.

mi3

A couple of years ago, I got my brother a Xiaomi Mi3 from Flipkart. Xiaomi was new to India and they did not have any sort of insurance plan to go with the purchase. A few months later, I happen to visit the Xiaomi service center in Indira nagar.

The service guy after helping me out with my issue with a Redmi 1s, wanted to up-sell an insurance plan. I did not read the documents and it was not a very expensive plan. It promised to protect the mobile from accidental damage, broken display or even theft. So I got the plan for my Redmi 1s and also got it for my brother’s Mi3.  It was a third party insurance company (TPA) called OneAssist and the plans they had for Xiaomi mobiles were called Mi Assist. I also misunderstood that it was an official plan from Xiaomi.

A few weeks ago, my brother was travelling in a Sleeper bus. He stored the mobile in his pocket and went to sleep. When he alighted from the bus, the next day morning, he found out that the display has cracked and it was not working. So we decided to claim the insurance and submitted all necessary documents. After weeks of following and submitting,resubmitting documents finally I got a call from OneAssist.

The person at the other end informed me that the case has been rejected by the insurance company on the grounds of “willful negligence”.We had stated the truth in the written statement while claiming the insurance. But found out that the truth was used against us. Naturally, I was not happy with the way things went and I started digging for more information. Here is the official communication from OneAssist.

Rejection Remark:

Insured has stored the handset incorrect inside his pants pocket & slept off in the sleeper bus, thus indicating negligent handling on the account of user. As such it has resulted dint damage of the handset.

EXCLUSIONS –

“Exclusion 10 – Loss or damage caused by incorrect storage, poor maintenance, willful negligence, incorrect installation, incorrect set. up, Improper handling, dismantling, fitting adjustment, repair alteration or modification not approved by the makers/manufacturers and / or the agents of makers/manufacturers or use of such property contrary to the directives of the makers/manufacturers and/or this agents unless the authorized Service Centre representative would confirm otherwise with due substantiation.”

My brother has kept the mobile safely in his pocket. If he had kept it near him, it may have been stolen easily. If he had put it in his bag and his bag was stolen, he would have been stranded. I am sure any of you travelling on a public transport would keep your mobile in your pocket.

 So what is “Willful Negligence” and how it is used by Insurance companies as a blanket weapon against you.

Willful Negligence. Intentional performance of an unreasonable act in disregard of a known risk, making it highly probable that harm will be caused. Willful negligence usually involves a conscious indifference to the consequences.

– quotes from dictionary

Here are the few reasons that the insurance company would reject your claim and some counter suggestions for writing your claim story. While writing the claim story, make sure you follow the suggestions here.

  • Loss or damage to the Gadget due to mysterious circumstances / disappearance or unexplained reasons.
    • The term mystery is being used here. So make sure that you are sure about the story. You must never tell that “you are not sure what happened”. 
  • Loss of Gadget resulting from or caused by theft, or attempted theft from unlocked vehicles or rooms.
    • So basically theft is not covered. If you are pick pocketed or if you loose your mobile in a public area, make sure that you inform the case with the police and get an acknowledgement. (No FIR will be written for a lost mobile). Draft your story to look like you struggled to protect the mobile at any cause and still the thief managed to run away with the mobile. Never tell that you were careless or the mobile was lifted without your knowledge. 
    • I have never heard of an instance where a thief breaks locks to lift a mobile. So if you leave your mobile in your car or bike and it was stolen, be sure to tell them that the lock was picked and the mobile was stolen. At any cause, don’t reveal your carelessness. 
  • Consequential loss of any kind or description.
    • Now this is very tricky. Let us assume that you have kept your mobile in your bike and it was stolen along with the bike, that is considered as consequential loss. One loss resulting in a collateral loss is called consequential loss. Make two separate claims and don’t link the loss in your story. 
  • Loss or damage caused by incorrect storage, poor maintenance, wilful negligence, incorrect installation, incorrect set-up, unless the authorized Service Center representative would confirm otherwise with due substantiation.
    • That is the ground on which my insurance was rejected. The rules are the same. Never reveal the fact (or not) that the damage or loss was out of bounds from your control. Write a story that would say that you took utmost care of the device and yet the damage or loss happened. 
    • If your kid dropped your mobile and broke it, don’t tell them. If your mobile fell out of your pocket while in your home, office or road, don’t tell them that. Maybe you can them that you were holding on to the mobile carefully and someone came from behind and knocked it to the floor and it broke. 
    • Never tell them that the mobile was damaged during travel or while driving.
  • Any type of self-repair or attempted self-repair.
    • This happens with most power users. If you try to root your device, you may end up bricking it. Now try your level best to fix it yourself. There are loads of ways to unbrick your mobile. If you still want to claim an insurance for this act, weave a strong story before calling that toll free line. 
  • Mechanical or Electrical Breakdown or electronic derangement or malfunction unless caused by an external accidental means or liquid. Cost of Replacement of Battery unless caused by an accidental or liquid damage to the Gadget. Any damage or loss occasioned from any water borne craft, unless such damage is caused by the accidental ingress of liquid/water, and if the Subscriber has taken reasonable care to protect the Gadget from damage.
    • This means that any damage or loss due to liquid is not covered. The service personal can easily identify liquid damage by looking for salt deposit in the motherboard. So if you want to mask it, get the internals cleaned by a trained personal, before trying to get a claim on that. 
  • Any instance where you are not a resident of India at the time that the Theft or Damage occurred.
    • Make sure you weave a story that involves you being in India and being near the device during the loss or damage. 

There are many such carefully worded and disguised statement with multiple levels of meaning and like a game of chess, you have analyze the next move by the insurance company based on your first move, which is the claim statement. So read them all before

The underlying statement is, never let know that you were careless. Accidental is different from careless. So make sure you make them believe that it was pure accident although you were as careful as an hawk. Never bring the travel element in the story. Remember, that the venue of the story must always be within the four walls. Keep

Following these precautions while applying for a claim, may not guarantee that the claim will be honored. It will simply give you a better chance.

Insurance is a subject matter of solicitation and read the offer documents carefully.

Better still is not to buy an insurance plan for your mobile. With that money, buy a good screen guard and a protective case for your mobile. Save the money and save the headache of dealing with insurance companies.

Also read: How I lost and found a mobile.

I have also noticed that claiming loss or damage of an Apple iPhone is a smoother process in India. I am not suggesting you to buy an iPhone, just telling that if you are willing to spend half a lakh on a mobile, you must first assess your carefulness. If you are butter fingers like me, better …

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