Best answer: Yes, in most cases buying an extended warranty for a student's laptop is a good idea. Laptops can be used all day every day for just about any type of college work, and their mobility means they will always be on the move, ultimately putting them through above-average use and abuse.

Know how your student uses their laptop

A spill waiting to happen.

Thousands of students head back to college every year, and even though your student — with an able laptop in hand — is responsible, lecture halls, dorms, labs, and libraries are bustling with people. Anyone can walk by and bump a laptop off a table, spill coffee on a keyboard, or step where they shouldn't when a backpack is being rearranged. Accidents happen, and even if your student is not one to abuse their tech devices, damage to a laptop can occur.

Accidents are made more common due to the frequency of use. A laptop is usually hauled to each lecture, each lab, and each study session, then back home or to a dorm for hours of work in the evening. While a lot of laptops will see no more than a few hours of use in a day, your student's laptop might not have a cooldown for days, especially during exams and other crunch times.

Laptops are designed to put up with this type of use, but that doesn't mean something can't fail. A battery might degrade to the point where it needs to be plugged in almost always, ports might stop working due to frequent use, or a display might collect some dead pixels. While you can still generally use a laptop should these problems creep in, you probably want the least amount of distractions for your student.

Like with all insurance, there's the risk of paying for something you don't use, but not having to worry about these problems thanks to an extended warranty could make a big difference, and you could ultimately save a lot of money if you do go with extra protection and something fails after the basic warranty has run out.

Check what's included in the basic and extended warranties

Surface Laptop 2

Using Microsoft's excellent Surface Laptop 2 — which we recommend for students — as an example, new purchases come with a one-year limited hardware warranty and 90 days of technical support.

The one-year standard warranty only deals with hardware defects (internal components, display, touchpad, etc.) and will not provide any help for accidental damage. As for the 90 days of tech support, it's basically there to help get Windows 10 and its apps set up properly.

An extended warranty, which is called Microsoft Complete in this case, can be added at the time of purchase or within 45 days of the purchase. It can be had for up to two years and will cover your student's laptop for any accidental damage, including drops, spilled liquids, or broken screens. For its duration, you'll also have the standard hardware defect coverage that is normally only in place for the first year.

For another example, using the Spectre x360 13t convertible that we also recommend for students, HP offers a standard one-year limited warranty with new purchases, as well as 90 days of tech support to help get everything set up.

There are four other warranty plans you can choose from, including an extension of the original plan for two or three years, as well two- and three-year extended plans with accidental damage coverage.

The best package, at least for accident-prone students, is likely the three-year coverage with accidental damage protection. It includes pickup, repair, and return of a damaged laptop, and it covers spills, surges, drops, and the standard hardware failure coverage. If a laptop is damaged beyond repair, there's even a money-back guarantee so you're not out of a laptop and the money you paid. That's a solid deal, especially because it costs far less than the price of a new laptop.

Finally, Dell's Latitude 7400 2-in-1, which is classed as a business laptop and thus built to take more than an average beating, has some impressive warranty options. Not only are there basic hardware service warranties for up to five years, there are also ProSupport and ProSupport Plus options that cover everything from accidental damage (drops, spills, surges), onsite service for repairs, automated and predictive issue detection, and malware removal. If your student is particularly accident prone, this type of coverage is no doubt a great idea.

Is it worth the extra money?

It's clear from these examples gathered from some of our favorite laptops that extended warranties are not all the same. In general, the cost is far less than an entirely new device should catastrophic damage occur, but the length and breadth of coverage is something to which you need to pay attention.

The most stylish laptop out there might not be a great match for your particular student because of warranty coverage, or you may choose to forego an extended warranty and hope for the best. No matter what laptop you buy, always be sure to read fully what is offered in the basic and extended packages. In most cases, an extended warranty for a laptop that will be subjected to life at school is a great idea.

Premium Ultrabook

Surface Laptop 2

A great all-around laptop for students

With a slim, light chassis, the Surface Laptop 2 has the portability and performance needed to get through a standard day's work. Battery life is excellent, and it can be had with up to a two-year extended warranty.

Excellent value

HP Spectre x360 13t

Premium convertible at an unbelievable price

The all-new Spectre x360 13t demonstrates HP can do jaw-dropping hardware and design, and a great price only adds to the package. Extended coverage can be had for up to three years.

Incredible battery life

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1

Excellent battery, super adaptive

The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 brings about 15 hours of battery life from a charge, a durable all-metal body, beautiful FHD touch display, and performance hardware. Grab up to five years of extended support for this laptop.

Latest And Best Prime Day Deals

Unlock voice control with Echo device deals and $5 Amazon smart plugs
Amazon Echo devices bundled with $5 smart plugs

Amazon's Smart Plug lets you start voice controlling anything plugged into it by asking an Alexa-compatible device, and today's deal lets you snag one for only $5 with purchase of select Echo devices.

Be more productive with a year of Office 365 Home and a free $50 Amazon gift card
Office 365 Home 12-month subscription and $50 Amazon gift card
$99.99 $150.00 Save $50

The subscription works with up to six people, but that card can be all yours.

Amazon's Fire TV Cube is down to just $70 thanks to this Prime Day deal
Amazon Fire TV Cube
$69.99 $119.99 Save $50

Grab TCL's 32-inch 720p Roku TV for less than $100 in this Prime Day Lightning deal
TCL 32S325 32-inch 720p Roku TV
$99.99 $130.00 Save $30

Act fast while you can. These Lightning deals tend to sell out quick.

The Ring Alarm security system is reaching new low prices for Prime Day
Ring Alarm home security systems

Various configurations of the Ring Alarm are discounted to their best prices yet exclusively for Prime members at Amazon through Tuesday night to help keep your home secure.

The Sonos Beam Prime Day deal includes a $40 discount and 2 $50 Amazon gift cards
The Sonos Beam Prime Day deal includes a $40 discount and $100 in Amazon gift cards
$359.00 $499.00 Save $140

That's just so much savings in one deal. You'll have to wait for the physical gift cards, but that's basically $100 to spend however you want.

Prime Day dropped this PlayStation 4 console bundle to just $250
PlayStation 4 Slim 1TB console with Marvel's Spider-Man and Horizon Zero Dawn
$249.99 $359.98 Save $110

This deal on the PlayStation 4 Slim console saves you $50 off its regular price while also including Marvel's Spider-Man and Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition for free. You'll just need an Amazon Prime membership to snag it.

The newest device in the Echo family, the Show 5, is now down to just $50
Echo Show 5
$49.99 $89.99 Save $40

It's only been on the market since May, but it hasn't escaped the Prime Day price cuts.

More Prime Day Deals