Worldwide insurance company, Assurant, has acquired mobile repair company CPR Cell Phone Repair. This marks the third big phone repair acquisition by an insurance company this year, and the second in as many months.
CPR has grown to over 825 locations in the US, and even more locations abroad, making it one of the largest brick-and-mortar mobile repair operations in the world. They offer repairs on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and gaming consoles, as well as any other general electronics like televisions and drones.
Assurant offers a plethora of insurance options, including travel insurance, home appliance protection, and mobile device insurance. Assurant protects nearly 50 million mobile devices, including phones, tablets, and laptops. They also partner with a number of carriers, manufacturers, and retailers.
Allstate-owned SquareTrade acquired mobile repair company iCracked earlier this year, and global insurance provider Asurion recently purchased uBreakiFix back in August. These acquisitions are seemingly becoming a hot trend, but we aren’t sure how we feel.
On the one hand, this proves repair is big business, and legitimizes independent repair by offering even more places for Assurant customers to get their devices fixed locally.
On the other hand, this further limits the country’s repair options. “The ongoing consolidation in the industry underscores the importance of representation for the remaining truly independent local repair shops,” says Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director of The Repair Association. CPR has been on a spree, acquiring quite a few independent shops, and is now itself being acquired by a company that provides cellphone insurance through carriers like T-Mobile. That means fewer repair options when it comes time to fix that broken screen.
“On the surface, it is welcome news for consumers and the industry, as it brings a level of uniformity when it comes to receiving service,” says Matt Zieminski board member of The Repair Association. “But, I think the inherent danger is a lack of options for consumers.”
Furthermore, these large insurance companies are members of the CTIA, an organization that has heavily lobbied against Right to Repair legislation. It is possible that the increased importance of repair to CTIA members will bring about change inside the association. Right to repair legislation could be a significant boon to insurance companies like Assurant, Asurion, and SquareTrade. Automotive insurance companies were essential in funding the Massachusetts Right to Repair bill in 2012.
iFixit has always stood up for independent repair shops and the independent right to repair. CPR has rescued hundreds of thousands of phones for grateful customers, and we’re thrilled for their team’s success.
Small, independent, locally-owned repair shops are a critical part of the market. They manage a lot of repairs that OEMs refuse to perform. The reduced competition brought in by market consolidation could be dangerous for the industry. Complete manufacturer control would mean fewer choices for you as a consumer, and fewer opportunities for truly masterful board-level fixes.