What Is a TV Extended Warranty?

Get Optional Protection for a HDTV with a TV Extended Warranty

Broken TV screen
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Wouldn't it be great if you could buy something like a TV extended warranty -- also known as a TV service plan -- for relationships?

Think about it. Heartache wouldn't last as long because when the relationship broke you'd be eligible to get a replacement just so long as you had an extended warranty. The extended warranty could make it that much easier to dive into the next relationship. If only.

The reality is that you can't but an extended warranty for a relationship.

You can, however, buy an extended warranty for a TV.

What Is a TV Extended Warranty?

A TV extended warranty is a fixed-price insurance policy for a television that is usually sold at the same time the TV is purchased. Its purpose is to provide financial protection for you -- the consumer -- in the event that your expensive, new HDTV breaks.

In addition to TVs, other electronic components, like a Blu-ray disc player or video game system, usually have some sort of extra protection available.

Extended warranties generally provide the consumer with benefits like preventative maintenance, free replacement, no or low-cost repairs, and power surge protection.

The lure of the extended warranty is that you can say goodbye to the costly fees associated with TV repairs. Many extended warranties offer in-home service and pickup for defective products, so you won't have to haul your big, broken big screen LCD TV back to the store.

Just remember that an extended warranty is in no way affiliated with your TV's manufacturer warranty. It's a completely separate and optional service that you will pay for in addition to whatever you pay for your new TV.

What Does a TV Extended Warranty Cover?

If you go online and read various message boards and customer review polls then you might think that nothing is covered by an extended warranty.

That's just not true.

The extended warranty for a TV should act much like a bumper-to-bumper warranty for your car. This means that the picture screen (burn-in), buttons, inputs, outputs, internal components, TV stand, IR sensor for the remote control, on-board circuitry/software, and more are all usually covered under a typical extended warranty.

The extended warranty will often include convenience features like in-home service or free pickup should your TV need to go to the repair shop. Some extended warranties, like Best Buy's premium protection plan, might also cover other convenience features like preventative maintenance, telephone troubleshooting, and recalibration.

Most extended warranties will include one free lamp replacement for the duration of the warranty -- one lamp means one lamp, not a lifetime supply of lamps. Be sure to confirm the specific details by reading the terms and conditions of the warranty.

Where Can I Buy a TV Extended Warranty?

You should be able to buy some sort of extended warranty or TV service plan anywhere a TV is sold. Usually, the store will try to sell you the extended warranty at the time you buy the TV. If you refuse to buy it then you can usually return to buy it within 30 days.

If the store doesn't sell extended warranties or if you don't trust the company selling the extended warranty then you can turn to the Internet to solve your extended warranty needs. Websites like DTV Express, Ted Unlimited, and Amazon sell third-party extended warranties - meaning they sell warranties for a TV that you bought somewhere else.

Since these online companies weren'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 it could be within nine months in the case of DTV Express.

Something else to consider about online warranty companies is their customer rating and reliability. My recommendation is to only buy an extended warranty from an online retailer when that retailer has a good Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating.

Should I Buy a TV Extended Warranty?

Only you can decide if you should buy an extended warranty. Points to consider before buying an extended warranty include:

  1. Value of item being purchased
  2. Price of extended warranty
  3. Length of manufacturer's warranty
  4. Length of extended warranty 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 the manufacturer's warranty is before deciding whether or not to buy an extended warranty. Extended warranties can cover a TV for years.

Coverage for extended warranties begins the day you buy the warranty. If you bought the extended warranty at the same time you bought your TV then this means that your new TV is covered by two warranties for its first year. Once the manufacturer's warranty expires then you'll be covered solely by the extended warranty.

The first year might seem like you're paying for two services but only getting the protection from one. So, why not just start the extended warranty after the manufacturer's warranty expires?

This is a fair request and it's one of the downsides to buying the extended warranty while still under a manufacturer's warranty. However, extended warranties tend to pick up the slack for manufacturer's warranties, and they're a lot more customer-focused than a typical manufacturer's warranty.

Determining the value of an extended warranty is in the eye of the beholder. For some, it offers security and peace of mind knowing their investment is protected long after the manufacturer's warranty runs out. Others believe it's a worthless product sold only to raise profits while appearing to provide a value.

What Doesn’t an Extended Warranty Cover?

Normal wear and tear, accidental damage, and power surges are at the top of the list of things that might not be covered.

There have been a lot of people burned by claims made by a salesperson about what the extended warranty would cover only to find out that it wasn’t covered under the warranty.

These greedy salespeople are partially at fault, but where does the consumer take ownership for buying something that they didn’t understand in the first place?

There is a difference between what you think the extended warranty should protect and what it actually protects.

Forget what the salesperson tells you the warranty covers. Forget what your friends told you. The bottom line is that the extended warranty will only cover what is detailed in the terms and conditions for the policy you purchase.

Read the fine print before buying any extended warranty no matter how trustworthy the person or company selling the warranty appears to be. Ask questions when you are unclear and when in doubt get clarification in writing if you don‘t see the protection listed in the warranty‘s terms and conditions. It’s your money being spent, not theirs.

How Much is an Extended Warranty?

In most circumstances, the price of a TV repair will be more expensive than the price of the extended warranty.

Whether you buy an extended warranty online or in a store, prices for extended warranties are determined by the price of the TV, which might also factor in the type of TV.

This means that a warranty for a LCD TV could cost differently than the same extended warranty for a same size, same priced plasma TV.

So be sure to ask about the price for the extended warranty as it applies to each television. Don’t assume that one price covers all. This is important to remember if you’re on the fence regarding the type of technology you want inside the TV - LCD, plasma, DLP, etc.

In addition to being priced by TV type, a funny thing about extended warranties in a not-so-funny way is that an extended warranty for a $499 television could have an entirely different purchase price than a warranty for a TV that costs $500 even though both extended warranties are identical in coverage.

This is an unfortunate side-effect of what happens when you price warranties based on a range of prices, like $500-1000. So, it’s critically important to pay attention to where the price breaks are for extended warranties. Depending on where you buy the extended warranty could determine how much of a gap there is between price breaks. It might make it worth your while to move up or down the price ladder depending on the added cost of the extended warranty.

Buying Advice for an Extended Warranty

What’s the worst possible damage that could happen to your equipment? 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?

Extended warranties can be well worth the extra expense. Then again, they can be an incredible waste of money and chances are that you’ll never use your extended warranty.

Advantages of the extended warranty include financial protection from costly repairs, in-home service, and a theoretical peace of mind while the product is under warranty.

Disadvantages include the cost of the extended warranty, potential hassles when trying to submit a claim, or a rejected claim due to a loophole in the contract’s wording.

When shopping for a TV, you’ll want to know how much extended warranties cost in comparison to the TVs you’re looking at. You can save a few dollars if you know where the extended warranty price increases. Maybe then you can feel like you got the most out of the warranty purchase as far as price is concerned.

Always read the extended warranty terms and conditions. If the warranty vendor can't produce them then kindly ask the vendor why they would expect you to pay for something as important as an extended warranty without seeing written documentation.

Also, ask if someone can explain in detail what a typical claim process would look like from your perspective. You never know when someone will pass you a tidbit of information that will help you out down the road. Salespeople know their product so use them as a resource.

Whatever you decide, your decision will undoubtedly come under scrutiny by someone -- be it a friend, family member or online writer. Ultimately, you’ll buy or pass on the extended warranty for your own reasons. Hopefully, this guide helped you on your way.