How do extended warranties work?

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An extended warranty could pay for repairs if your household appliances break. But what do they cover and are they worth it? Here is what you need to know.
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When you’re buying new goods, you might be offered an extended warranty by the manufacturer. Typically, these policies mean that the costs of repairs or replacements is covered for longer, but they’re not always good value for money. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the types of cover, standard exclusions and when it’s worth spending the cash.

What is an extended warranty?

It is a type of insurance policy that covers the repair costs of your appliances, after the manufacturer's guarantee has expired.

For example, if your fridge breaks down, an extended warranty could cover the cost of repairing or replacing it.

They’re optional extras, which are often offered at the point of purchase. However, you don’t have to get your warranty from the shop where you buy your goods, and it’s usually a better idea to shop around online to get the best price.

How long do extended warranties last?

Standard warranties usually last for one or two years. Extended warranty policies often cover you for far longer - usually last between one and five years. Most providers will not cover appliances that are more than 8 years old.

What appliances do they cover?

Extended warranties can cover a wide variety of purchases including white goods, technology and small appliances.

Typical products covered by extended policies include:

  • Washing machines

  • Tumble dryers

  • Fridges

  • Freezers

  • Dishwashers

  • Electric ovens

  • Hobs

  • Microwaves

Lots of providers will let you insure more than one appliance on a single policy, and some even offer a discount for multi appliance cover. 

For example, you could get 5% off the price of your cover for every appliance you add.

What claims do they cover?

Most extended warranties cover:

  • Mechanical breakdown, for instance if the drum on your washing machine breaks

  • Parts, labour and call-out fees

  • Accidental damage

The cover offered by an appliance warranty depends on your policy, so check the terms of cover carefully before you buy.

Here is more about how you can claim on an extended warranty

Are there any exclusions?

Yes, but exclusions vary depending on your policy. The most common exclusions are:

  • Call-out costs if no fault is found with your appliance

  • Cosmetic damage, like chipped paintwork, or wear and tear

  • Problems that existed before you took out cover

  • Replacing fuses, batteries or bulbs

  • Breakdown if the appliance is still under manufacturer's or retailer's original warranty

  • Delivery or installation costs

You also will not be covered if you:

  • Leave your home empty for more than 30 days in a row

  • Use an unauthorised repairer

  • Deliberately damage your appliance

  • Fail to follow the manufacturer's instructions, for example overloading the washing machine

  • Claim for business use, such as if you run a laundry

You should always check the small print before you take out a policy. Make sure you have the cover you need and understand what you can claim for.

Where can you buy cover?

You can get an extended warranty from:

  • The shop you buy your appliance from

  • Direct with an insurer, by calling them or visiting their website

  • By using a comparison tool

The best way to get an extended warranty is to compare deals and shop around, so that you can find the right cover at the cheapest price.

Before you buy, make sure you check the rules around authorised repairers, what happens if your item can’t be fixed, and any loopholes or exclusions.

You’re often offered the choice between paying monthly or in one lump sum. Monthly usually works out more expensive, so think carefully before you choose this approach.

Do you need it?

You may not need to pay for an extended warranty if your appliances are already protected elsewhere.

If an appliance breaks down within 6 months of you buying it, you should also be protected by the Consumer Rights Act.

Check to see if you are already covered by any of the below before you buy an extended warranty.

  • Manufacturer's or retailer's warranty: You do not need separate cover if your appliance is still under its original warranty. Manufacturer and retailer guarantees usually last between 1 and 5 years, so check your purchase receipt to see if you have cover

  • Home insurance: Your home contents insurance will likely provide some cover for your appliances, like fire damage and theft. However, you may not have accidental damage cover or breakdown repair unless you have paid for it as an optional extra. Check your home insurance policy to find out

  • Packaged bank account: Some bank accounts come with bonuses and rewards, including free 12 month extended warranties. Although most packaged accounts come with a monthly fee, this could be a cheaper way of getting cover for your appliances

  • Consumer Rights Act 2015: If an appliance develops a fault within 6 months of purchase, you are entitled to a full refund from the retailer you bought it from. Here is more about your refund rights

  • Section 75: If your appliance cost between £100 and £30,000 and you paid with a credit card, your card provider must refund you if it is faulty. Here is how Section 75 protects your credit card spending

Here is how to decide if you need extended warranty cover