If you’ve purchased anything recently, chances are pretty good that you’ve been offered an extended warranty during the checkout process. Oftentimes you feel pressured into making a hasty decision without doing the research to determine if an extended warranty is worth the money. So when is an extended warranty worth it?
What you should consider when comparing extended warranty plans
- What is actually covered? Does the extended warranty include true accidental protection, or is it just an extension of the manufacturer’s warranty? If it does not include accident protection, you may end up double-paying for product defects that are already covered under your manufacturer’s warranty.
- Read the fine print. Many extended warranties have so many exclusions and limitations in the fine print, they’ll never cover actual product damage. Make sure you also understand the requirements for proving an issue occurred, what you need to submit as evidence and the timeframe for which the plan will cover damage.
- Is it simple to file a claim? Some warranty plans make the process for filing a claim so difficult and frustrating that it won’t be worth your time to go through the process. Check out the claim process before you purchase the plan so you’ll be prepared with the right information should you need to use the warranty. Make sure you understand how easy it is to get access to plan details and check on the status until there’s a resolution.
- Are there hidden fees? Some extended warranty plans lower the upfront cost of the plan by charging you more for deductibles and additional fees when it comes time to file your claim. If it’s hard to determine what the fees will be, chances are pretty good that there are going to be ‘gotchas’ later on. Look for an extended warranty that offers no deductible and no additional fees when you file your claim.
Extended warranties should be accessible for everyone, and they should cover real damage that happens to your products - spills, rips, tears, breaks, drops, cracks, defects - everyday accidents that you can’t predict. You purchase an extended warranty to avoid having to replace expensive items down the road. It’s called product protection because it protects your investment. An extended warranty is worth it if you value the product you bought and you want to ensure it lasts. So once you’ve found an extended warranty company you trust to protect your investment, how do you decide if you should spend the extra money on the coverage?
How to determine if an extended warranty is worth it
Cost of repairs or replacements
It often doesn’t make sense to purchase an extended warranty for a product that is cheap to replace or easy to fix yourself. But for products that would be expensive to repair or replace, an extended warranty can be very useful. When your washer breaks and it costs $200 alone for the technician to come out and assess the damage, an extended warranty is worth it. Or when your $2,000 leather couch gets a tear in the center cushion that no pillow will hide, and extended warranty is worth it. Check out the most common products shoppers purchase extended warranty plans to cover.
Hassle of dealing with issues
If you’re handy and like to fix issues that come up, then feel free to go the DIY route! But if you dread finding a trusted repair person who knows how to appropriately repair your product, passing that task on the extended warranty company may be worth it. When you have a protection plan and a product issue comes up, the warranty company will work with their network of repair companies that specialize in the product or brand you’ve purchased. And if a repair isn’t doable, they’ll work with the retailer to replace your product. You won’t have to spend hours on the phone trying to find the right person to handle your issue. For some, the time saved is worth the price of the extended warranty.
Peace of mind that you can enjoy your product
Sometimes the concern over staining your new couch or breaking your new tablet keeps you from actually using the product you purchased. But why purchase a product if you can’t even enjoy it? An extended warranty can provide the peace of mind that you’ll be covered in case an accident happens. You don’t need added stress…or plastic couch covers like your great grandma had. Lower your stress level and let the extended warranty company worry about accidental damage (as long as accidental product protection is included in your plan!).
Extended warranties are no silver bullet to getting to enjoy your favorite products for a lifetime, but they can go a long way in saving you money, time and stress. You may not need an extended warranty for everything you purchase, but extended warranties can be worth it for certain products when you’re looking for these types of benefits.
This article was originally published July 2018 and updated June 2021.