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Back to School: Is Buying Gadget Insurance For My Kid Worth It?

Whether it's worth the cost may depend on who'll be using it, and how.

It's a terrible feeling when an expensive gadget drops out of your hand and smashes on the floor or falls into a pool of water. Companies offer extended warranties and insurance plans for all types of devices — but whether it's worth the cost may depend on who'll be using it, and how.

Little hands may be even more accident-prone. A survey by warranty company SquareTrade shows 89 percent of households have a smartphone, tablet or laptop that's been damaged by a kid.

Many electronics retailers make a hard sell at the register for the purchase of an extended warranty, but Consumer Reports generally does not recommend buying them.

The magazine's data shows it's rare for a device to malfunction within the first three years of purchase, and if it does, the repair is usually inexpensive.

A variety of insurance plans are also available. Mobile phone insurance plans, for example, might be offered directly through your wireless carrier, the manufacturer of the phone itself (like Apple or Samsung) or a third party insurer like SquareTrade. Plans can cover loss, theft, physical damage or device malfunction.

So which plan, if any, should you buy? As you would with any insurance plan, you’ll want to consider what kind of coverage you really need. It's also important to do the math, taking into account the the amount of the monthly premium and the plan's deductible.

The growth of repair services has made it possible to get a broken screen replaced often for much less than the cost of insurance or of getting a new phone. For example, Apple will fix a broken iPhone screen for about $110-$130. Device theft may also be covered through your renter's or homeowner's insurance, so be sure to check the fine print on those plans.