Your extended warranty questions answered

If you’ve taken out an extended warranty policy on a household appliance, or are thinking of purchasing one, here’s everything you need to know

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Extended warranties can be bought for a range of household items – including washing machines, televisions and furniture – and offer protection above the manufacturer’s or retailer’s standard warranty, which usually lasts one or two years. An extended warranty often offers cover for accidental damage and mechanical or electrical breakdown after the warranty from the manufacturer or retailer has expired.

Ross Penstone-Smith, policy advisor for general insurance at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), answers your questions on making a claim, how a policy protects you, and what to do if a supplier goes out of business.

Q: Is accidental damage or theft included in an extended warranty?

A: Extended warranty policies vary, but most will cover the cost of accidental damage, repair your item in the case of mechanical or electrical breakdown, and cover a new-for-old replacement or a compensation payment if the item cannot be repaired.

Q: Will an extended warranty cover replacing broken appliances?

A: Extended warranty policies will vary, but most will cover the cost of repairing, or provide a replacement if repair is not possible. Most policies have exclusions that are not covered under the policy. For example: cosmetic damage – such as cracked glass or damage to paintwork – which is not directly associated with the incident cannot be claimed for, and mechanical breakdown during the period covered by the manufacturer’s or retailer’s warranty is exempt.

Q: When does a policy start?

A: Most extended warranties will start the day you purchase the policy. Extended warranties usually last for two, three or four years after the warranty from your manufacturer or retailer has expired.

Your retailer will usually offer you an extended warranty at the point of purchase. However, you can also buy a policy directly from insurance companies or from a price comparison website. You may already have extended warranty cover through insurance you have with your bank account, so check with your bank to see what your policy covers.

Q: Do I need to activate the policy when I get home?

A: Most appliances come with a 12-month manufacturer’s guarantee that requires you to register your appliance when you purchase it or you risk invalidating the guarantee. Extended warranties will start the day you purchase the policy, so there’s no need to activate or register for it to take effect. 

Q: What happens to my policy if the provider goes bust?

A: This depends on your extended warranty as some policies will be underwritten by a third party. They are required to honour contracts if the business that originally sold you the warranty goes out of business. Similarly, if you paid for the policy on your credit card, you may be able to claim back the money from your card provider, if you act within 120 days of the item becoming faulty.

Q: Am I bound to a payment contract when I take out an extended warranty policy?

A: If the extended warranty for electrical goods lasts for more than 12 months, you can cancel it within 45 days of purchasing and still get a full refund as long as no claims have been made. If more than 45 days have passed, you can still cancel the extended warranty and get a pro-rata refund of the cost of the extended warranty, unless you have already made a claim. Check the terms and conditions of your policy for more information.

Q: My extended warranty is due to expire, can I extend the coverage?

A: Many household appliance warranties will allow you to get cover for items up to eight years old, allowing you to get cover if your initial extended warranty policy has ended.

Q: If I need to make a claim, what steps should I take?

A: This will depend on the policy that you have purchased. It is best to contact your provider who will be able to provide you with details on how to make a claim. When making a claim you will usually need to provide proof of purchase, details of what the problem is, and a copy of the warranty or guarantee.

Q: Will there ever be any extra charges incurred when making a claim?

A: This will depend on the policy that you have purchased. Unlike many insurance policies, most extended warranties will not charge any excess. However, in some cases there may be a delivery or installation charge if you make a claim and receive a replacement item under the terms of your policy. Make sure you shop around for the best deal to meet your needs.

Q: How many claims can I make under the extended warranty policy?

A: This will depend on the policy you take out, it is best to speak to your extended warranty provider about this or check the policy terms and conditions. For example, multi-item household appliance policies typically allow multiple claims, however a single-item extended warranty policy may end once a claim has been made.