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Extended Warranty Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

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When you purchase an item, you're making an investment. You want your purchase to serve you for a long time to come; that's why you should protect it in any way possible. While properly tracking and maintaining your purchase will certainly help extend its life, you know the high frequency of circumstances beyond your control that will have an effect on a purchase's longevity. Manufacturer defects, power surges, features damaged in shipping or improperly handled, normal wear and tear: The list goes on and on. That's why you, the smart shopper you are, will want to consider charging your purchases with extended warranties.

The world of extended warranties can be tricky to navigate. There are some things to consider before you decide to commit to one, and Overstock.com is here to help clear up any confusion you may have. This extended warranty buying guide includes some basic information to help you wade through the available options, so you'll know what will best meet your needs.

When purchasing an extended warranty, you may have some questions: What purchases should I think about getting an extended warranty for? What does an extended warranty cover? What are the differences between service plans and replacement plans? Don't worry about your warranty wonderment; being inquisitive will help you get a guarantee that will work for you.

Extended Warranty Candidates:

The necessity of an extended warranty can vary depending on personal concerns and preference. You will want to think about the item you're purchasing and its potential weaknesses before settling on a warranty.



  1. Consumer electronics and computers: Due to their fragile inner-workings and frequent use, consumer electronics are some of the most popular nominees for extended warranties. For portable electronics like laptops, extended warranties are essential. These portable devices face more wear and tear than stationary products such as desktop PCs, so extended warranties are a must. Don't overlook guarantees for your stay-at-home electronics, however. Electronics, from LCD TVs to stereos, are big purchases, and extended warranties help defend them for longer periods of time than manufacturer warranties.

  2. Appliances: From your washing machine to your microwave, your appliances help keep your life running smoothly. To keep your appliances running smoothly, an extended warranty is a brilliant idea. Most appliances come with limited warranties, but an extended warranty offers the peace of mind of knowing your product will be protected long after the short manufacturer warranty has expired.

  3. Fitness equipment: The moving parts that fitness equipment utilizes to keep you fit are constant targets of wear and tear. A malfunctioning piece of fitness equipment isn't only an inconvenience, it's also dangerous. That's why an extended warranty is such a boon to exercise buffs. If your machine starts acting faulty, a protection plan can help whip your machine back into shape.

  4. Camping gear: It's fun to buy camping gear, but doing it over and over in short periods of time can put a damper on your enjoyment of the great outdoors. Avoid paying to replace worn and torn gear by investing in an extended warranty. No one enjoys finding just the right camping spot and then finding that their gear is out of order. With an extended warranty, these kinds of headaches are easily preventable.

  5. CD/DVD/Video games: We've all had those moments where you are at the best part of the song, movie or game and all the sudden it pauses or starts skipping. You hold your breath willing it to pass through the bad spot on the disk so you can continue with your entertainment. Sometimes your wish is granted, and other times you find yourself seconds from throwing the remote at the TV. With an extended warranty you are able to send in your CD/DVD/Games and receive a replacement for the scratched or damaged media.

  6. Jewelry and watches: Jewelry and watches are the perfect finishing touch to any outfit, whether for business or pleasure. So it's a shame when you can't complete your outfit because a clasp or chain is broken, an accent stone is missing, or your watch just isn't ticking. Depending on the warranty provider, everything from kinks to cracks, to missing accent stones are covered, helping guard against incidents that can happen due to normal wear and tear.

  7. Golf clubs: Sometimes you just want to go hit nine and get away from it all. If your golf clubs aren't in top condition, your birdie is going to become a bogie. With an extended warranty, failures caused by normal wear and tear, such as gouges and chips, that affect performance are taken care of so you hit par every time.

  8. The Extent of Extended Warranty Coverage:

    There's often some confusion as to what an extended warranty will actually protect. Before making your decision on an extended warranty, it is a good idea to confirm what is covered to avoid any disappointment or surprises.



  9. Will cover: Most extended warranties cover failures caused by defects in workmanship and materials, so you can rest assured knowing that if the manufacturer skimped, you won't be to blame. Mechanical and electrical failures, whether brought on by a faulty product component or a power outage, are usually covered by extended warranties. The most prevalent reason for products failing -- normal wear and tear -- is often covered by extended warranties. Of course, nearly all extended guarantees are required to cover lemons as well.

  10. Won't cover: No extended warranty covers abuse, misuse or simple product dissatisfaction. It's good to keep this in mind when preparing to smash your laptop over your knee after losing a particularly tense computer game. Also, buying an extended warranty on top of an existing limited warranty usually doesn't constitute double coverage. Extended warranties won't cover losses either, so it's best to check under your bed before expecting your extended warranty to conjure up a replacement.

  11. Service Plans vs. Replacement Plans:

    It's easy to mix up replacement plans and service plans. These popular extended warranties do share similarities but are actually quite different from one another.



  12. Replacement plans: Replacement plans do just what you expect them to do: replace a faulty product. If something goes wrong with your purchase, these protection plans provide you with a reimbursement of the purchase price, so you can get a new, working product. Generally, replacement plans are offered on lower-ticket items in the two-hundred dollars or less range.

  13. Service plans: For pricier items, such as computers and large appliances, service plans are a great option. Service plans promise to fix covered items, and if said products can't be repaired, they are replaced. For something like a laptop, which holds unique value to each individual owner, a service plan is actually preferable to a replacement plan; no computer owner wants to have to start over completely.

  14. Common Extended Warranty Questions:

  15. Can I get an extended warranty after my purchase?
    It depends on the store or website you are purchasing it from. The Platinum Protection Plan offered by Overstock.com, for example, can be bought up to ten days after your initial purchase.

  16. What happens when I make a claim?
    The experience can vary depending on the provider. When you call to make a claim with your Platinum Protection Plan offered by Overstock.com, you will be asked a few questions to best determine if trouble shooting can help, or if the product is broken. If the product is broken, a prepaid label will be emailed to you so you can send in your product, or you will be set up with a service center in your area. If your item is not able to be repaired, an in-store credit will be issued to your account for the purchase price of your item so that you are able to buy a replacement of your choice.

  17. How long do extended warranties last?
    On average, extended warranties last between two and four years. Most replacement plans cover you for two years, while service plans usually promise to repair your purchase for anywhere from two to four years at the longest. This all varies, of course, by product type and recommended coverage.

  18. If I accidentally drop my laptop or MP3 player, will that be covered under the extended warranty?
    If the extended warranty coverage you purchased included ADH or Accidental Damage Handling, it is generally covered. With the Platinum Protection Plan offered by Overstock.com, accidental damage such as dropping or water damage is covered on laptops and smaller, handheld electronics such as cameras and MP3 players.

  19. Ideas from Overstock.com:

  20. Defend your purchase with Platinum Protection.
    Extended warranties are an intelligent precaution for virtually any purchase, and that's why Overstock.com has taken the concept to the next level with the Platinum Protection Plan. The coverage of the Platinum Protection Plan is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so it doesn't matter when your purchase is in need of attention; you can get the ball rolling on a repair or replacement any day you choose. With a flexible network of over 25,000 professional repair facilities at our disposal, we can ensure quick, quality service for your product. Plus, the Platinum Protection Plan offers other perks, such as easy owner-transferability and transmission, remote control coverage, in-home service (if supported by the manufacturer), an online care portal that includes trouble shooting, 24-hour chat and product information. Platinum Protection also covers accidental damage on laptops and portable electronics, a huge benefit for these fragile devices.

  21. Act quickly.
    Many people avoid buying a protection plan at the same time they make a purchase, promising themselves they'll get it at a later time. Unfortunately, that "later time" never comes, and they are faced with a broken product and no coverage. Most extended warranties are only available for a short time after your initial purchase, so avoid the regret or worry associated with forgetting a protection plan and get yours on day one.

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