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How do people value extended warranties?: Evidence from two field surveys


  • Marieke Huysentruyt

    (London School of Economics)

  • Daniel Read

    () (Durham Business School)


Extended warranties are popular but expensive. This paper examines how consumers value these warranties, and asks whether economic considerations alone can account for their popularity. Results from two field surveys show that consumers greatly overestimate both the likelihood and the cost of product breakdown. However, these biases alone do not explain their willingness to buy them. In fact, we find evidence of probability neglect, in which warranty purchase decision depends on the magnitude of the possible consequences of not having insurance and not on the probability of having to suffer these consequences. The expected emotional benefits ("peace of mind") from having a warranty was the best predictor of purchase decision and willingness to pay. We also found that people with higher numeracy and cognitive skills are less likely to overestimate the economic determinants of warranty value, yet are still highly influenced by emotional considerations when deciding whether to purchase a warranty. We conclude by arguing that consumer welfare could be improved by increasing the competitive intensity in the market for warranties.

Suggested Citation

  • Marieke Huysentruyt & Daniel Read, 2008. "How do people value extended warranties?: Evidence from two field surveys," Working Papers 2008_02, Durham University Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:dur:durham:2008_02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 505-540.
    2. Hanming Fang & Michael P. Keane & Dan Silverman, 2008. "Sources of Advantageous Selection: Evidence from the Medigap Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 303-350, April.
    3. Hogarth, Robin M & Kunreuther, Howard, 1995. "Decision Making under Ignorance: Arguing with Yourself," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 15-36, January.
    4. Sunstein, Cass R, 2003. "Terrorism and Probability Neglect," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 121-136, March-May.
    5. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson & Guillermo Moloche & Stephen Weinberg, 2005. "Information Acquisition: Experimental Analysis of a Boundedly Rational Model," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000480, UCLA Department of Economics.
    6. Hsee, Christopher K & Kunreuther, Howard C, 2000. "The Affection Effect in Insurance Decisions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 141-159, March.
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