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Wednesday, July 11, 2007 09:02 am

iNsurable

State Farm has iPhone’s number

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Untitled Document Jeff Bricker’s got a few calls to make. Until this week, the local State Farm agent was turning away clients who wanted insurance on their spiffy new— and expensive — Apple iPhones.
That changed this week, Bricker learned. Because the iPhones are so expensive — retailing for $500 or $600, depending on the model — State Farm decided to cover them under a personal-article policy for $32.50 per year and no deductible. “That’s great news, and hopefully we can insure a few of these,” Bricker says. State Farm already covers other valuable gadgets, such as photographic equipment, that meet a certain threshold, says Missy Lundberg, a spokeswoman for the Bloomington-based insurer.  “But your $59 cell phone — we wouldn’t cover that,” Lundberg says. Even AT&T, the company that has the exclusive agreement to provide service for the iPhone, won’t offer coverage for America’s new favorite gizmo under its wireless-phone insurance plan. (The iPhone is covered against defects under Apple’s manufacturer’s warranty, however.)
An Ohio company, Safeware Inc., which covers portable electronic devices against accidental damage, theft, vandalism, and acts of God, announced last week that it was unsure whether to get involved with the iPhone. Michael Barry, vice president of media relations for the Washington, D.C.-based Insurance Information Institute, says that he wasn’t aware that any major insurers were covering the sought-after devices until he was contacted by a reporter. He’s not surprised, though, noting that various types of specialty insurance are available for everything from pet travel to identity fraud.
However, he believes that State Farm could touch off a trend across the insurance industry.
“It shows there’s pent-up demand for it, considering the market share they already have,” Barry says, “so if they’re doing this they’ve looked at the numbers and come to the conclusion that it’s worth a go.”

Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com.
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