An extended warranty is a fixed-price insurance policy that, as the name implies, goes beyond the standard manufacturer's warranty. Most televisions come with one of these policies as an add-on option. It is meant to provide financial protection for the buyer in the event that their expensive new HDTV breaks or malfunctions.
So, should you purchase a TV warranty?
What We Like
Coverage for costly repairs.
Convenience of in-home service.
Peace of mind.
What We Don't Like
The cost of the extended warranty itself.
Potential hassles when trying to submit a claim.
Possible claim rejections due to loopholes in the contract’s wording.
What Does an Extended TV Warranty Cover?
Remember that an extended warranty is not affiliated with your TV's manufacturer's warranty. It's a separate and optional service that you pay for in addition to whatever you pay for the TV.
Extended warranties generally provide benefits like preventative maintenance, free replacement, no- or low-cost repairs, and power-surge protection. Many such policies even offer in-home service and pickup for defective products, so you don't have to haul your large, heavy TV back to the store.
A worthwhile plan should act like a bumper-to-bumper warranty for your car. It should cover the picture screen (burn-in), buttons, inputs, outputs, internal components, TV stand, IR sensor for the remote control, on-board circuitry/software, and more.
Some versions also include convenient features like in-home service or free pickup should your TV need to go to the repair shop. Some extended warranties, such as Best Buy's premium protection plan, might also cover other convenience features, such as preventative maintenance, telephone troubleshooting, and recalibration. Be sure to confirm the specific details by reading the terms and conditions of the plan.
Read the fine print before buying, no matter how trustworthy the person or company selling the coverage appears to be.
Where Can I Buy a TV Extended Warranty?
You should be able to buy some sort of TV service plan anywhere TVs are sold. Usually, the store will try to sell you an extended warranty at the time you buy the TV. If you refuse to buy it at the time, you often have the option to change your mind within a set period, usually 30 days.
If the store doesn't offer this add-on, or if you don't trust the company selling it, you can turn to the internet to meet your needs. Amazon and Square Trade sell third-party plans, meaning they sell warranties for TVs purchased elsewhere.
Because such a company isn't involved in the TV sale, there is usually a time limit on when you can buy an extended warranty in relation to when you bought the TV. The time limit could be within 30 days or as long as 9 months.
Something else to consider about online warranty companies is their customer ratings and reliability. Always check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating.
Should You Buy a TV Extended Warranty?
Only you can decide if you should buy extra coverage. Here are some points to consider before you buy:
- Value of the TV being purchased.
- Price of the plan.
- Length of the manufacturer's warranty.
- Length of the additional policy and date coverage begins
Most TV manufacturer warranties cover parts and labor for one year from the purchase date. So, it's important to know how long you are covered before deciding on an extended plan. Some plans can cover a TV for years.
Coverage usually begins the day you buy it. If you bought it at the same time you bought your TV, your new TV will have two warranties for its first year. Once the manufacturer's warranty expires, you'll only have the extra one you purchased.
The first year may seem like you're paying for two services but only getting protection from one. Why not just start the supplemental coverage after the manufacturer's expires?
That's a fair question. Keep in mind that extended warranties tend to pick up the slack for manufacturer's coverage, and they're a lot more customer-focused than a manufacturer's plan. For some, they offer security and peace of mind knowing their investment is protected long after the manufacturer's coverage runs out. Others believe it's a worthless product sold only to raise profits while only appearing to provide value.
Ask the warranty dealer to explain in detail what a typical claim process would look like. You never know when someone will pass you a tidbit of information that will help you out down the road. Good salespeople know their products, so use them as a resource.
What Is Not Covered by an Extended Warranty?
Normal wear and tear, accidental damage, and power surges are at the top of the list of things that might not be covered. But what about what's not covered?
Many people have been burned by salespersons' claims. These greedy salespeople are partially at fault, of course, but you must also be proactive and informed with any purchase you make. There may be a huge difference between what you think the extended warranty should protect and what it actually protects.
Forget what the salesperson tells you is covered. Forget what your friends tell you. The bottom line is that the plan will cover only what it details in the terms and conditions for the policy you purchase.
Read the fine print before buying anything, no matter how trustworthy the person or company selling the coverage appears to be. Ask questions when you are unclear; get clarification in writing if you don‘t see the protection listed in the plan's terms and conditions. It’s your money being spent, not theirs.
How Much Does an Extended Warranty Cost?
In most circumstances, the price of a TV repair will be more expensive than the price of the extra coverage.
Whether you buy an extended warranty online or in a store, prices are determined by the cost and type of TV. This means that plans may differ for TVs with extra features or certain technologies. These change fast, so be sure to ask about the price for the extended policy as it applies to a particular television. Don’t assume that one price covers all.
An extended warranty for a $499 television could have a different purchase price from a plan for a TV that costs $500, even though both policies are identical in coverage. This is an unfortunate side effect of products based on price ranges (for example, $500–1,000). Accordingly, it’s doubly important to pay attention to where the price breaks are. It might make it worth your while to move up or down the price ladder depending on the added cost.
Consider Your Intended Use
Consider where you'll be using your TV and imagine the worst possible damage that could occur: Do you have kids or pets? Do you host wild parties or plan on moving your TV from room to room or house to house? Will your TV be used in a college dorm room? In these cases, extended warranties can be well worth the extra expense.
Always read the terms and conditions. If the vendor can't produce these in writing, kindly ask them how they would expect you to pay for something without seeing written documentation.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to your comfort level. The best advice is to read the fine print and make an informed decision, then head out and get the TV that best suits your needs.
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