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SquareTrade Warranty Review – Extended Warranties and Insurance For Gadgets & Electronics

By Erik Folgate

squaretrade logoI’m not the typical iPhone user. My phone isn’t wrapped in plastic with six inches of rubber encasing it. In fact, it was going completely “naked” until just recently, when I gave in and put a minimalist bumper around it. I’ve had butter fingers lately, and I don’t want to take any chances since it costs a fortune to replace an iPhone.

With all of the new gadgets out there, and the prices only getting steeper, it’s easier than ever to end up with a pricey accident on your hands.

The average “urbanite” nowadays might be carrying a smartphone and an iPad or laptop with them while traveling to and from work. At home, he or she may have an LED TV, a desktop computer, and a home theater system. Taking care of all of this stuff is a challenge, and stores’ extended warranties never seem to make sense. In fact, many of them are just extensions of the limited manufacturer’s warranty that only covers defects and malfunctions.

Is there anything better out there that offers full protection for electronics and gadgets? This is where SquareTrade warranties come in.

Why SquareTrade?

I’ll admit it, I’m not a big fan of extended warranties. I usually advise people to skip the extended warranties that companies peddle to customers, mainly because they’re pure profit for the company and don’t usually cover the user error issues that tend to occur, especially with mobile gadgets. SquareTrade is different, however. Their warranties are much more affordable, they have accidental damage coverage, and you can buy a warranty for virtually any electronic device – including refurbished products. Plus, there are no deductibles.

Coverage

The standard SquareTrade warranty covers mechanical and electrical issues that occur during normal use of your gadget. You get 100% coverage on parts and labor with zero deductibles. Some examples of covered issues include computer hard drive failures, iPod batteries that stop charging, cell phone keypads that get stuck, and digital camera sensor failures. Accidental Damage and Handling (ADH) coverage is an option for new, store-purchased items and protects against drops and spills. It does not cover loss, willful damage or gross misuse. ADH is typically offered as an option for MP3 players, laptops, GPS devices, cameras, and other portable electronics, but is generally not available on refurbished or used items.
I recommend the ADH coverage for expensive items like an iPhone or iPad that are extremely prone to being dropped or damaged from water exposure.

Key Features

  • Length of Coverage: For new items, coverage lasts 2 to 5 years, and starts at the date of the purchase. For used/refurbished items, coverage lasts 1 to 2 years, and coverage starts the day after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.
  • Coverage Amount: For replacement payments, you’ll be given the full amount that you paid for the item. For repairs, they will continue to repair the item until the maximum value you paid for the item has been reached.
  • Accidental Damage from Handling (ADH): You can purchase ADH as additional coverage and it covers drops, spills, and other accidental damage that may come up.  I highly recommend purchasing this for mobile devices such as your an iPhone or iPad.
  • eBay Purchases: They even have specialized coverage for new, used, and refurbished items purchased through eBay!

Coverage Exclusions

  • Pre-existing Defects: If you get coverage on a used item, any defects or conditions that the item had before you purchased the warranty are not covered. This is a pretty standard exclusion when it comes to warranties and even insurance.
  • Accidental Damage: By default, accidental damage is not covered unless you buy the additional ADH coverage.  So make sure you add on the ADH coverage when you get a warranty with SquareTrade for maximum protection.
  • Accessories and Consumer Replaceable Parts: SquareTrade won’t cover anything that is not part of the original item you purchased and it also doesn’t cover stuff like disposable batteries.
  • Software: If you have any software issues with your item, it’s not covered by the warranty. Only hardware and parts are covered. However, any software issues you have should be able to be fixed without replacing your covered item in most cases.
  • Certain Types of Items: Industrial equipment used commercially such as servers or items fraudulently misrepresented are not covered.

Featured Warranties

iPhone – The iPhone extended warranty is the best in the business. It’s better than the Apple Care extended warranty and much cheaper too. It’s the warranty that I own with SquareTrade, and I’m very glad that I got it. It’s $99, and covers drops, spills, and other accidents. It gives you two years of coverage. There are extended warranties for other smartphones and cell phones as well.

iPad – For $95, you can get a similar warranty for the iPad and I recommend it even more, because the iPad is even more expensive than an iPhone, and more fragile.

LaptopsAgain, I am not a big fan of the extended warranties that large retailers like Best Buy and Dell offer, because they are typically 10 to 20% of the value of the item.  But, SquareTrade’s laptop warranties are typically 48 to 67% cheaper than other extended warranties, so it makes more sense to get the extra coverage.

eReaderseReaders like the Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook are another popular mobile device that people are bringing with them on their commutes to work, vacations, and anywhere else they have time to do some reading.  This makes them extremely susceptible to accidental damage.  At SquareTrade, you can get a warranty for $39.99 with ADH coverage.

Final Word

My first experience with SquareTrade was when I purchased an iPhone warranty.  I saw that for $99 I could get full accidental coverage, and it was cheaper than the Apple Care extended coverage, which doesn’t cover drops and water spills.

My previous iPhone saw some pretty hardcore wear and tear.  I cracked the screen and had to get it fixed by a third-party company that did screen replacements.  So, when I got the iPhone 4 and knew that a new replacement would cost me $499 (compared to $199 I paid to get the phone with a contract), I realized that an extra $99 is a great investment for something that I use every day and is taken with me at all times.

Furthermore, I  recommend SquareTrade’s extended warranties for your mobile devices like eReaders and tablet PC’s.  You might also want to get one if you have an expensive laptop or LCD TV.  The reason why SquareTrade is better than the competitors is they are able to keep their prices low, which makes it a much wiser financial decision when thinking about buying an extended warranty.

Do you have a warranty with SquareTrade? How has it worked out for you?

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • http://www.moneybeagle.com Money Beagle

    We’ve got several items covered with SquareTrade. The price has been awesome, especially since I’ve always found a 20-30% off coupons as well. So far we haven’t had to actually use the warranty yet but based on everything I’ve read, I’m hopeful that it would be an easy experience. I just bought a new, more powerful dehumidifier for the basement. I purchased a warranty simply because I’ve heard that these units don’t last as long as they should.

    • Erik Folgate

      Wow those are good examples of stuff that I would never think about, but I am sure the price was decent.

  • Jenna

    I find it a little odd that you just LOVE every single thing that ever gets reviewed on Moneycrashers…

    • Erik Folgate

      Hey Jenna, that’s not really true. I’ve been critical in the past of some products that I’ve reviewed. But, it’s more natural that I review stuff that I like because I want to share it with money crasher readers as a good product or service to use.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Arnold-Crank/1709488568 Sarah Arnold-Crank

        Do they cover accidental damage on LED 47″ TVs if a Wii controller hits the TV and cracks it? Do you know of any warranty that will replace the screen if something like this happens?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Arnold-Crank/1709488568 Sarah Arnold-Crank

        Do they cover accidental damage on LED 47″ TVs if a Wii controller hits the TV and cracks it? Do you know of any warranty that will replace the screen if something like this happens?

    • jane

      How can I trust this review when it’s plastered with ads for Square what’s-its-name?

  • Dmcclan5

    I work for a retailer that sell the Square Trade for cell phones. It is truly the best deal out there. To cover your smart phone for 2 years is $99 total with a $49 deductible. And they offer you a buy back program at the end of your 2 years for that phone. So come by your Sam’s Club and check it out. It will save you $$$ over the years and by the way it covers your phone if you decide to go swimming with it. No one esle I know does that…..

  • Marc

    I purchased a plan with Square Trade from a purchase of a refurb tablet from Woot. It was available directly after I made the purchase on the Woot webpage. It didn’t give me any information, so I went on the Square Trade website. It lists ADH and other coverages, so I bought it. Come to find out, they don’t cover ADH with refurbs and only offer the basic package, which is basically the manufacturer’s warranty.
    To me, insurance is as simple as paying money in case something happens. With buying a refurb, I understand I’m not going to get the same thing again at the same price. However, I’d like to protect the investment at least. New, used, or refurb, the concept is the same. The insurance company can offer a price for a plan and the person will pay that to protect their purchases. It I bought a brand new iPad for $600 for example, I’d like to get a $600 check if it was dropped. The same goes for a $300 refurb. What’s the difference? Dropping and cracking either has nothing to do with being new, used or refurb.

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