An extended warranty covers a qualifying appliance's repair or replacement costs when something goes wrong.
Extended warranties offer peace of mind, customizable coverage, and professional repair.
However, some warranties don’t cover accidential damage and, therefore, aren’t worth the price.
Always read the fine print to determine exact coverage, cost, and term length.
A few hundred bucks to protect your shiny new gas or induction cooktop may sound like a deal you should jump on, but what happens if you drop a frying pan on the glass top? Will the extended warranty cover the damage? The truth is that it depends. Keep reading to learn the truth about extended warranties and whether they’re worth considering the next time you “add to cart” or swipe your card.
What’s an Extended Warranty?
An extended warranty is a service agreement that covers a qualifying appliance's repair or replacement costs when something goes wrong. Countless products have them, but they’re commonly associated with major appliances (think refrigerators, stoves, and washing machines).
The terms and conditions of various extended warranties can differ greatly. Some may be valid for just one year, while others may cover your appliance for five years or longer. Some only cover the cost of repairs, while others may offer you a full refund. There’s also the question of exactly what kinds of repairs are covered and whether you have to pay additional fees, such as deductibles or shipping fees, to avail yourself of that coverage.
Pros of an Extended Warranty
Extended warranties offer a ton of benefits, such as continual protection for that “problematic” appliance.
Peace of Mind
If your appliance breaks and the issue is covered by your warranty, you may only have to pay a small deductible—the insurer will pay all other repair costs, no matter how much they might be. And if the manufacturer can repair your appliance, you’ll receive a refund for the purchase price so you can buy a replacement.
While the underlying terms and conditions (what’s covered and what’s not) of an extended warranty are set in stone, you do have a choice in program length. Depending on the appliance you purchase and how much you pay for it, you might elect for an extended warranty that spans one year, three years, five years, or longer.
When you opt for the warranty, you’ll know from the start how much you’ll pay for it. Most warranties require you to pay the full amount at the time of purchase, so you’ll pay one fee and be set for the warranty term. There are no maintenance fees or other hidden charges.
Whether you purchase an extended warranty from a manufacturer or a third party, you can rest assured that a qualified technician will make potential repairs. Third-party insurers often contract with local appliance repair experts who will come to your home for the service.
Valid for the Entire Warranty Term
While it’s true that many appliances can go their entire expected lifespan without an issue, there are always exceptions. A huge benefit of an extended warranty is that it protects you from repeated repair bills if you happen to purchase a problematic appliance. Even if the machine suffers several malfunctions during the warranty term, your insurer will cover all your claims (or possibly issue a refund of the purchase price of the appliance so you can buy a new one).
May Be Transferable
Depending on the warranty’s terms and conditions, you may be able to transfer it when you sell or give away your appliance. This added benefit will help you net a higher price on the secondary market and give potential buyers the peace of mind you once enjoyed.
Cons of an Extended Warranty
Other times it's best to ignore the warranty offer if your appliance is less expensive.
May Cost as Much as the Appliance
Extended warranties typically start at about $200, depending on the type of appliance you purchase and how much you pay for it. While extended warranties may be worth it for larger appliances that cost thousands of dollars to repair, they make less sense for smaller or more affordable ones. For example, a $200 warranty for a $350 appliance doesn’t make as much financial sense as a $400 warranty for one that’s $3,000.
Coverage May Overlap
Most extended warranties require purchase while your appliance’s original warranty is still in effect. There could be as much as a year in an overlap between the two warranties, meaning you’re paying for a year’s worth of warranty that goes to waste.
May Go Unused
Today’s appliances are robust machines, and there is a very good chance you may never use your extended warranty while it’s in effect. Extended warranties won’t help you if they’re valid for five years, but your machine breaks in the first year (when it’s covered by the manufacturer’s warranty) or the tenth year (when all warranties have expired).
Must Purchase for Each Appliance
You have to buy a separate warranty for each appliance you’d like covered. This can add up to quite a bit when you consider all the appliances you have in the kitchen and laundry room.
Doesn’t Cover Accidents
One of the biggest drawbacks of an extended warranty is that they don’t cover accidents—a common cause for appliance repair. So if you drop a frying pan on your glass top stove or damage your dishwasher by using the wrong detergent, you’re on your own.
What to Consider Before Buying an Extended Warranty
Before purchasing an extended warranty, it’s important to review its cost, term, and coverage to ensure it offers a good value.
Compare the cost of your extended warranty against the cost of the appliance and the average repair costs for that appliance.
For example, a $3,000 refrigerator might offer an extended warranty option for $300. This is actually an excellent value, considering that the average refrigerator repair cost is $200 to $300 (and can cost as much as $1,000).
Extended warranties are available in several terms, with most ranging from one to five years. Some insurers may only offer one to two-year warranties, which may fall in line with your manufacturer’s warranty, rendering the extended warranty useless.
For most major appliances especially, longer warranties tend to offer the better possible return.
A huge drawback of many extended warranties is limited coverage. Most don’t cover accidents, and some may deny your claim if you don’t follow a particular maintenance schedule or take it to an authorized service center. Be sure to carefully review all the fine print to ensure that your extended warranty covers what you expect.