Worth Ave. of Stillwater offers insurance for smartphones, other small electronics
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Friday, October 12, 2012
10/12/12 at 4:29 AM
STILLWATER - It's easy to get insurance on many major things - your house, your car or your life itself, for example.
But a Stillwater-based company is finding success by insuring a much smaller but still dearly held item - your iPhone.
Worth Ave. Group now sells insurance policies for a range of electronic items prone to being dropped or breaking, such as laptops, game systems, e-readers, music players and all kinds of smartphones.
Gretchen Cathey, operations manager at Worth Ave., said it's the last category that has spawned a surge in customers.
"Now that everyone has a smartphone, that's caused our business to skyrocket," she said. "We've almost doubled our business in the last year."
Worth Ave. employs 40 people, 10 of whom were added when the company added a 6,000-square-foot in-house repair facility in Stillwater.
Although Worth Ave.'s strategy focuses on high-tech items, the company itself just turned 40 years old. Cathey said that when Worth Ave. was founded in 1972, it focused on selling property insurance for college students.
The company still offers that kind of coverage, but it has discovered a bigger market elsewhere.
"As the technical and cultural climate has changed, we've expanded into offering different kinds of products," Cathey said.
Customers buy their policies over the company's website. After selecting the product, the customer chooses the length of the policy. For example, a three-year policy covering a 32GB iPhone 5 costs $231.80 and has a $50 deductible.
Over the life of the policy, Worth Ave. will either repair any damage to the device if it can be fixed, or replace it if it is stolen or can't be fixed, Cathey said.
Even with the new in-house repair facility, the company still outsources much of its repair service, Cathey said.
Though these devices can be covered by traditional homeowners or renters insurance, Cathey said Worth Ave.'s policies have the advantage of being smaller.
"The big drawback to homeowners insurance is the deductible, and the penalties you can get for filing a claim," she said. "My homeowners deductible is $1,000, so that won't help you if you're just replacing a phone."
Worth Ave. continues to look toward the future. Cathey said the company has begun offering a service called WorthTrack, which can monitor the location of covered devices, and has more ideas in development.
"We're always looking to expand and offer more coverage options," she said.
Original Print Headline: Company sells insurance for smartphones
Robert Evatt 918-581-8447