There’s been at least one other interesting change this week from Apple that didn’t make it into yesterday’s keynote event, and that’s some subtle but valuable improvements to the AppleCare+ service plans.
Since its inception, AppleCare+ has been offering extended warranty coverage and insurance against up to two incidents of accidental damage from handling, however originally the plan had to be purchased either alongside a new device or within 60 days of your original purchase. It was only good for a two year period, and offered only two incidents in total.
Over the past couple of years, however, Apple has been making some tweaks to its venerable extended protection plan, first introducing a subscription model for it that would not only allow users to pay monthly, but allow them to maintain the plan by continuing to make monthly payments even beyond the initial two-year period.
Then came the news last month that Apple was extending the window to buy AppleCare+ to up to a full year after the purchase of a new device, offering a second chance for those who failed to purchase AppleCare+ with their new iPhone 11 last fall. While some have suggested that the change may be temporary as a result of lower interest in the program during the current pandemic, there’s no indication that the new time window isn’t permanent.
That said, it’s also not without a couple of minor caveats, chief of which is that in order to buy AppleCare+ after the initial 60-day window you’ll need to take your device into an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider to have it inspected and make sure it’s in working condition. After all, this is basically an insurance plan, so you don’t get to buy it after your device has already been broken just to try and score cheaper repairs.
However, now it seems that Apple is sweetening the pot even more to try and get folks to buy into AppleCare+ with two other small but significant changes.
An update yesterday reveals that customers will now be able to claim up to twice as many incidents of accidental damage as before — potentially as many as four during the normal lifetime of a two-year AppleCare+ plan.
Previously, AppleCare+ only provided coverage for two incidents of accidental damage in total. When Apple began allowing subscriptions to its plans, with payments to continue the plan beyond the initial two years, it also began covering two additional incidents of accidental damage in every 24-month period. This basically meant that normal AppleCare+ customers still got the same coverage, but the counter reset if they continued paying for the program.
Now however, it looks like Apple has cut those windows in half, so AppleCare+ customers will now be able to claim up to two incidents of accidental damage in a single 12-month period.
This means that you could potentially get up to four incidents covered during the term of a standard AppleCare+ plan, but it also means that if you continue paying monthly after that, you’ll get two more incidents every year.
Naturally, however, these aren’t cumulative, so you won’t be able to save them up so you can break your iPhone six times in your third year, but it does mean that if you’ve used up both of your incidents during the first year of your AppleCare+ plan, you’ll be able to go back to the well for another claim, as long as at least 12 months have passed since the first one.
Accidental damage claims are still subject to a deductible, of course, although that can be as low as $29 if it’s just screen damage, which is the most common mishap for iPhone users, and it’s considerably less than the normal screen replacement fees which start at $129 for an iPhone SE and run up to $329 for an iPhone XS Max or iPhone 11 Pro Max. With AppleCare+, on the other hand, it’s $29 regardless of which model of iPhone you’re carrying.
Apple hasn’t just shortened this window for iPhone users either; it looks like it’s available on all AppleCare+ plans, including those for AirPods, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats headphones, HomePod, iPad, iPod touch, and even the Mac and Pro Display XDR.
Lower Fees for Theft and Loss Coverage
In the U.S., Apple also offers an enhanced AppleCare+ plan that adds insurance against theft and loss for an extra $100 above the price of a standard AppleCare+ plan.
While this obviously carries higher deductibles than simple repairs, Apple has now changed those to a flat-rate replacement fee of $149 regardless of which model of iPhone has been lost or stolen.
Previously, these deductibles could run as high as $269 to replace an iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Naturally, like any theft or loss plan, you can’t just walk into an Apple Store and tell them you’ve lost your iPhone and get a cheap replacement; you’ll need to take certain steps to prove your iPhone was lost or stolen, such as filing reports with the police and your normal insurance company, but if you’ve legitimately had your iPhone stolen or lost in its entirety, then you could be paying a lot less to get it replaced.
You Could Already Have It
If you’ve already bought AppleCare+, the good news is that it appears that Apple is applying these changes retroactively to all current customers, which makes sense as it’s an enhancement to the existing AppleCare+ program, not an entirely new plan, and Apple hasn’t even raised the prices of its plans to account for these changes, so there’s no reason existing customers shouldn’t be able to take advantage of the new terms and deductibles.
In fact, the terms of AppleCare+ plans already include a clause that says that any changes Apple makes to its plans that “broaden your coverage without additional cost or any increase in service fees” will automatically apply to current plans.
So this means that all existing AppleCare+ users will be able to take advantage of the doubled rate of accidental damage incidents, so if you’ve been living with a broken screen because you’re out of incidents, you could potentially have up to two more available to you now, as long as it’s been long enough since you used your first one. Further, if you’re an iPhone 11 user with Theft or Loss protection you’ll be able to take advantage of the lower replacement deductible should the unthinkable happen to your iPhone.