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Do lifetime warranties actually last a lifetime?

Person pointing to a tablet that has an image of a lifetime warranty on it

When you hear the term “lifetime warranty”, you probably imagine an ideal warranty plan that never expires and is free of repair and replacement costs. However, the truth is that most lifetime warranties aren’t all they’re chalked up to be. Between hidden clauses, ambiguous terms, and other drawbacks, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of a lifetime warranty so you can make sure that your purchases are as protected as you think they are.

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So, what is a lifetime warranty and what does it actually cover? Here’s everything you need to know:

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What is a lifetime warranty?

Although you’ve probably heard of warranties like the Otterbox lifetime warranty, the Craftsman lifetime warranty, or the KitchenAid lifetime warranty, you might be wondering what a lifetime warranty actually entails.

A lifetime warranty is a guarantee from a manufacturer that they will back your product with needed repairs or replacements in the event of certain types of damage for the duration of a “lifetime”. Often, manufacturers choose to offer lifetime warranties as a way of building trust and rapport with consumers.

How long does a lifetime warranty actually last?

Although the word “lifetime” might sound straightforward, it’s actually a lot more nuanced than you might expect. While “lifetime” sometimes refers to the rest of your life as the consumer, more often than not, it refers to the expected lifetime of the product–and this is a big difference! Manufacturers who create the warranty have the authority to decide how long the product’s lifetime actually is, which is important to know if you think your purchase is protected for decades longer than it actually is.

It’s also important to understand that lifetime warranties often don’t last for the duration of whatever the product's lifetime is, either. Many manufacturers include terms and conditions that can preclude you from making a claim if you don't adhere to them exactly. Here are some examples of common terms and conditions that may void your lifetime warranty:

  • Not keeping up with maintenance. If you read your warranty’s terms and conditions carefully, you may see a suggested maintenance schedule that your manufacturer requires you to follow in order to keep your warranty in good standing.
  • Abnormal usage. Some lifetime warranties can become void if the service provider determines that you used your product outside of the bounds of normal usage. Unfortunately, “normal usage” is often subjective, so it’s important to be careful with this one.
  • Performing repairs on your own. While you might think it’s a good thing to attempt your own repairs, this is often a bad idea that can in fact void your warranty. Some manufacturers require you to send the product in for them to repair in order to keep your warranty active.

What is a limited lifetime warranty?

A limited lifetime warranty is a lifetime warranty with certain limiting terms and conditions. Although limited lifetime warranty coverage varies, it may limit things such as what product parts the warranty covers, what types of issues it covers, and more. Every limited lifetime warranty is different, so it’s important to make sure you take the time to study and understand the terms of your product’s limited lifetime warranty.

Final thoughts

While lifetime warranties sound ideal, unfortunately, they’re usually not as good as they claim to be, and it’s easy to think your purchases are well-protected when they actually are not. This is why it’s so important to make sure you’re prepared with product protection.

Product protection plans offer thorough coverage for all types of damage, including accidental coverage too. You’ll never have to deal with any hidden fees, deductibles, or conditions, and making a claim is quick and seamless.

Interested in protection for more than one item at a time? Although you might be more familiar with warranty plans like Warranty Forever that protect cars and other large purchases, when you subscribe to Mulberry Unlimited, you can protect unlimited purchases with no hidden fees or exclusions for only $9.99 per month.

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Mulberry is on a mission to help consumers protect the things they buy while saving on everyday financial products. The Mulberry browser extension allows consumers to get free 1-year product protection plans wherever they shop online, plus savings on extended coverage and other financial products.

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