Maximize Medical Equipment Purchase Part#1: Warranties & How To Use Them To Your Advantage

No one likes to have a “lemon” medical device in their fleet.

I am talking about the kind of device that breaks down unexpectedly after only a year into ownership. Just to be clear, I’m not referring to breakdowns caused by user error, rather these breakdowns I am focusing on are from manufacturing defects or when low quality internal parts begin to fail. 


You are probably thinking, “I don’t need to worry about this, I have a warranty on my equipment! If the machine breaks down and it’s not our fault, the manufacturer will replace the part at no cost.”


You may be right, your equipment has a warranty and there is a good chance the entire cost of repair will be covered if the failure occurs within the warranty timeframe. However what happens if the failure occurs just after your warranty period has expired? I will tell you what is going to happen, you are going to be responsible for the entire repair costs.


What manufacturers tend to do is they only provide a limited warranty (i.e. 1 year warranty) on their equipment in an attempt to be off the hook for unexpected manufacturer defects. This is a clever tactic used to place the burden back onto the customer and to make a little bit extra money off replacement parts. This may seem unfair but at the end of the day, the manufacturers are running a business and they want to limit the amount of loss as possible.


Here are our Top Recommendations to minimize the risk of being left with a bill for an unexpected device failure:


1. Read the fine print of the warranty

Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you have a strong understanding of what is actually covered in the warranty and for how long. Sometimes there are exceptions written in the fine print excluding certain failures from being covered. For example, typical exceptions include exterior casing defects and LCD screens as these types of faults could be argued as user error failures caused by harsh chemicals used during cleaning.


If at any time during your due diligence process you develop concerns on the way the warranty is written, reach out to your sales rep and ask for clarification. Some good questions to ask your rep are "What have been the most common warranty claims against the device since being on the market?" "What have been the most common parts that have failed after the warranty has expired?"  By asking these questions it will provide you with insight to potential problems you may face down the road.


2. Inquire about extended parts & labor warranty

We are a big fan of extended parts & labor warranties, especially for high use & high upfront cost medical equipment. The medical equipment that falls in this category would be devices such as anesthesia machines, ventilators, diagnostic ultrasound, endoscopes, etc. When this type of equipment breaks down, they are not cheap to fix (For example $5000 for a ventilator LCD screen is no joke) and could leave you scrambling to find the funds to cover the costs. Also depending where your hospital/clinic is located you may not have a specialized service technician in your area. Therefore you would most likely have to pay the travel expenses for a technician to travel to your area which adds to the cost of the repair.


By budgeting and negotiating an extended parts & labor warranty during the initial procurement phase, this will provide you with peace of mind knowing that if something breaks down you will be covered and will not have to pay for it out of pocket.


3. Understand the warranty conditions:

To submit a warranty claim, manufacturers don't make it easy for you. Oftentimes the manufacturers stipulate strict conditions in order for the warranty claim to be processed. At a first glance, you might think the warranty claim conditions are fair, however when the time comes to submit your claim, you realize it is quite time consuming and places a burden on your organization. To help you be more prepared and to help you understand the warranty claim conditions,  we have provided a list questions to ask using the 3 most common warranty claim conditions as an example:


Condition: The device must be sent to the manufacturer or manufacturer approved third party service deport

-Where is the manufacturing or service depot located?

-Are there any approved manufacturer service depots in my area?

-It's a simple repair, can you send us the part and allow our local medical equipment service company to complete the warranty repair?


Condition: Sender is responsible for all shipping costs and any damage occurred during shipping is the responsibility of the device owner

-It's very expensive and logistically challenging to ship from our small town, therefore, can we use our local medical equipment service company to complete the warranty repair?

-Your manufacturer service depot is located in a different country, is there an approved service depot in my country?


Condition: Device will be put in queue for service and you will be notified once the service has been completed

-This is our only device and we don't have a spare, is there a loaner device you can send us at no charge?

-How do we know the service won't take 6 months to complete? In the event of warranty could we have a repair ETA on paper?

I want to end this blog post off by saying warranties are a great investment and can be used to your advantage. Always remember everything is negotiable during the sale process, all you have to do is ask for what you want!

Do you have questions about your medical equipment warranty? Fill out the form below, we would be happy to help!