Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Expanding Insurance Coverage for Personal Cell Phones

Legislation Allows Consumers to Receive Damage, Loss, and Theft Protection for These Devices via Their Credit Card, Debit Card or Checking Account 

Change to Insurance Law Provides Less-Expensive Way to Protect Wireless Communication Equipment 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.4483/A.4672) that will allow New Yorkers a new, less-expensive way to obtain insurance protection for their cell phones through their credit card, debit card or checking account. Prior to the passage of the legislation, state law did not allow credit or debit card issuers and banks to insure their customers’ wireless communication devices from damage, loss or theft.

“Cell phones are obviously a vital, necessary—and expensive—reality of modern life and losing or breaking one can create real financial burdens, disrupt schedules and otherwise inflict undo aggravation on New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “I’m proud to sign these new consumer protections into law and allow greater choices and potentially less-expensive options to those seeking to insure their device and prevent annoyances down the line.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

The legislation signed by the Governor amends state Insurance Law to expand the coverage that a credit card issuer, debit card issuer, or bank may offer to their customers. The law specifically authorizes coverage to protect a cell phone and other wireless communication equipment if it is damaged, lost, stolen, or incurs a breakdown.

Roughly 97 percent of adults in the United States own a cell phone of some kind, according to a recent study. Among them, about 85 percent of these individuals own a smart phone, with 15 percent relying on these devices for their broadband needs.

Yet due to the portable nature of cell phones, they are often susceptible to damage, loss, theft, and mechanical breakdown. Safeguards for a person who experiences one of these losses in the form of insurance is often important given the high cost of a replacement device.

According to Senator Neil Breslin, “Cell phones and other wireless communication devices are essential items that New Yorkers need to meet vital employment, educational and personal responsibilities and have become increasingly important lifelines during the Covid-19 Pandemic. As many of us have personally experienced, the portable nature of cell phones also makes them susceptible to damage, loss, theft and mechanical breakdown. Protection in the form of insurance is a must, given the high cost of a replacement device. This legislation provides New Yorkers a new and less expensive way to obtain critical protection for their cell phones from an unexpected loss through coverage provided to them, often at free or reduced charges with their credit card, debit card and checking accounts. I applaud and thank all who joined me in making this additional safeguard a reality for New Yorkers.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill added, “Cellular phones have become essential items in both our personal and professional lives. However, the portable nature of these devices makes them susceptible to damage, theft and mechanical breakdowns. Replacement can also be cost prohibitive. This new law will provide an essential and inexpensive way to safeguard against these types of losses. I applaud Governor Cuomo for signing into law this important, consumer driven piece of legislation.”