Feb 28 2023

Keep One-to-One Device Repair Costs Within Budget

Worth Ave. Group’s device insurance can help K–12 districts maintain predictable budgets and free up IT teams.

$3.5 million — that’s how much one Georgia public school system will shell out for lost and damaged devices this year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The urban school district estimates that about 11 percent of its devices have been lost or damaged, and that figure is much higher in some other districts, according to Quang Ha, executive vice president at device insurance provider Worth Ave. Group

Repairing and replacing devices continues to be a major challenge for one-to-one device programs across the country. “On average, 8 to 12 percent of devices are damaged per year,” Ha says. “Some schools will have 25 percent of their devices damaged, and some will have 2 percent.”

The cost to insure a device against accidental damage such as liquid spills and cracked screens could be as low as $20 to $23 per device per year, Ha adds. By comparison, replacing an entire computer that’s lost or damaged beyond repair can cost hundreds. The final costs and potential savings will depend on the school district.

Here’s what to consider for your schools.

How Does Device Insurance Work?

As with all types of insurance shopping, it’s important to read the fine print when it comes to device insurance to ensure it will cover the losses and damages your students typically encounter.

EXPLORE: Learn how Worth Ave. Group can protect devices in your K–12 district.

Worth Ave. Group, for example, covers any physical damage outside of intentional damage, Ha says. Schools work on an honor system, reporting what seems intentional or accidental to the best of their ability. Worth Ave. Group’s claim submission process consists of seven questions for IT staff members to answer. All devices are listed in an online portal to ensure a quicker claim submission process that doesn’t overburden the IT team.

Most schools opt for a zero-deductible plan, Ha says. In some cases, schools move the insurance process to the families, who can opt to purchase insurance for their students’ devices. In these instances, Worth Ave. Group issues a group policy, where parents typically pay about 10 percent of the device’s cost to insure against theft or damage. Notifying parents of this policy in advance can help them budget for it in their back-to-school shopping. In 2022, families spent about $13 billion on electronics for students returning to school, according to data from the National Retail Federation. Fifty-six percent also began shopping as early as July, NRF data shows.

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Are There Additional Benefits from Device Insurance?

There are additional benefits with insurance programs, according to Dan Durkin, managing director of technology at YES Prep Public Schools, whose 24 campuses serve more than 18,000 students in Houston. His district has used device insurance for about three years.

“It allows us to report the device as lost or stolen to the authorities, report the last known geolocation, lock the computer from a basic input/output system level and change the boot-up screen to a message we’ve tailored,” he says, noting that these perks have mitigated losses for the district.

“We’ve seen an increase in devices returned that otherwise would have been lost,” Durkin says. “Nearly one-third of reported lost devices are returned. I am not sure if it is specifically attributed to the police report filed, locked-out access or a screen message asking to return the device.”

In addition to mitigating lost devices, schools should consider the potential time savings. With device insurance, IT teams can spend less time making repairs and manually tracking down lost devices, which keeps them from other tasks. 

Quang Ha
It’s not just employing them; you have to have equipment for them to use for repairs,”

Quang Ha Executive Vice President, Worth Ave. Group

“We pose the question to schools: What is your cost going to be to employ technicians? And it’s not just employing them; you have to have equipment for them to use for repairs,” Ha says. In addition, there are costs for shipping, labor and upfront bulk purchases of parts to use for repairs.

As a result, IT teams must determine whether hiring in-house technicians and staff to repair and replace devices is worth it financially, or if device insurance is a better option.

WATCH NOW: One-man IT staff builds support for this school from the ground up.

How Can Schools Determine if Device Insurance Is Worth It?

For Durkin, insurance is a must-have. “For about $60,000 annually, it mitigates an expected yearly loss of around $400,000,” he says.

Ha says some districts don’t need insurance as much as others. “They buy a quality device, and they put a protective case on it. I don’t mean a carrying case. I mean a snap-on, drop-resistant case,” he says. He explains that this will result in far fewer losses. “If schools run that program properly, it may be better to set those funds aside and just pay for the incidents that do arise.”

LEARN MORE: What do K–12 IT leaders need to know about spending federal funds?

To make sure you are choosing a reputable insurer, Ha recommends finding out if the agency is fully insured. This can help schools avoid instances in which self-insured companies go out of business, leaving everyone who purchased insurance out of luck. “Ask who the insurance carrier is, then go look at that carrier and see what their financial rating is,” Ha says.

Through some due diligence and intentional budgeting and goal planning as a team, you can determine if device insurance will alleviate financial and logistical pain points for your district.

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