Buying a used phone is something of a crapshoot. Customers can do all the research they like or pore over photos with a magnifying glass, but eventually they just have to trust that someone else hasn't dumped a lemon of a device onto the next sucker. Swappa, a marketplace for gadget buyers and sellers that specializes in Android hardware, is trying to take some of the uncertainty out of that process. Starting today the company is offering device protection plans for phones, with laptops and tablets coming soon.

The terms of the plans are pretty reasonable: $50 a year protects a device up to $300, with more expensive tiers at $60/500 and $70/1000. That's a year less than the latest Pixel protection plans from Google, but we're talking about used devices, so SquareTrade's protection plans starting at over $100 per year are more applicable. The Swappa plans cover standard accidents and repairs plus labor and parts, with a $50 deductible. Common ailments like cracked screens and water damage are covered for up to the value of a new device, but "pre-existing conditions" and battery failure (which are probably more worrisome for used devices) are not covered. That might explain the cheaper price.

Protection plans have to be bought at the same time as a Swappa purchase, so users can't add their existing devices to a plan. The coverage can be renewed after a year or transferred to another device, presuming of course that the second device was also purchased from Swappa. Shipping to and from the repair center is covered, according to the terms of service with the third party affiliate WarrantyLife. It's probably worth looking carefully through those terms (PDF link) for anyone considering a coverage plan.