Go Gadget Go

With iPhone Theft on the Rise, Protect Your Bubble’s Gadget Insurance Hopes to Break Into New York

pyb logo strap cmyk purple blue no tag With iPhone Theft on the Rise, Protect Your Bubbles Gadget Insurance Hopes to Break Into New York The last time Betabeat got mugged (8pm in the West Village by a couple of jerkoff hipsters!), smartphones hadn’t really been invented yet. Or maybe they had, but we didn’t have enough disposable income to buy one. If we lost our iPhone today, however, we would be be, in a word: screwed. Not that we’re doing anything about it. Despite ample warnings about the bike thieves of Brooklyn and subway iPhone pilferers, we pretty much walk around with it in our hands all the time. In short, except for our stingy streak, we’re probably Protect Your Bubble‘s ideal customer.

Yesterday, the UK company launched stateside with the hope that America’s obsession with its gadgets means they might willing to start insuring them beyond whatever warranty you pay for point-of-sale. Starting at $2.99/month (iPhones are $7.99/month; iPads are $9.99/month), the company’s policies protect against things like mechanical breakdowns, accidental water damage, and theft and promises a new device mailed to your door within 24 hours of filing a claim for a phone or tablet. The company also offers a lock/wipe/locate feature that lets you remotely secure your data or track down a device to within four square meters.

Protect Your Bubble is actually startup that “sits under” Assurant Solutions, a division of Assurant, the global insurance company headquartered in New York, said president Stephen Ebbett, when he stopped by Betabeat’s offices last week. Since launching, Protect Your Bubble has already sold 400,000 policies in the UK and hopes to improve on that growth here. “We see New York as a fantastic opportunity because people are constantly on the go and carrying two gadgets at least,” he said. In order to keep up with the 24-hour turnaround time, the company has a big distribution center in York, Pennsylvania. Mr. Ebbett’s own office is also chock-a-block with the stuff. “They call it Aladdin’s Cave-lots of nice gadgets up there,” he said proudly.

If your phone is damaged (they cover Androids too), along with the new device, Protect Your Bubble sends you an envelope so that all you have to do put the phone in and mail it back. The company then salvages the damaged phones for parts. And what if someone doesn’t mail it back? Do they send in the hounds?  “We ask them nicely and probably give you a friendly reminder call,” he said.

As another friendly gesture, Protect Your Bubble has offered to give a free iPhone 4S to two Betabeat readers who comment on this post with the best story about losing (or damaging) their phone. We’ll pick the winners by the end of the week. The company, it should be noted, also offers insurance for pets and travel. But sorry, guys, no free puppies or trips.

Update Monday, March 12th, 9:45 am EST: Dear amazing Betabeat commenters, we’ve chosen our winners who have been notified by email. Thank you so much for participating in this little experiment. Oh yeah, and sorry to hear about your iPhone. That sucked.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com