Let’s talk about RV extended warranty programs. They can be quite controversial. If bought directly from a dealership you are likely to overpay as much as 50%! It is hard to believe that the markup between the warranty company and the dealership is double! In my case, I got a three year extended warranty, three years of tire coverage and a year of Coach-Net for LESS than half what the dealership offered me just for the extended warranty. Obviously a money maker for the dealership! Furthermore, it may not be the best coverage for you and your RV.
Do you need an extended warranty? The answer is “it depends”. I’m a single woman going out full-time in a ten year old rig. Although it has only 25,000 miles on it, after ten years things can begin to go wrong. I’m also not going to do much in the way of my own repairs so a good extended warranty is something I clearly feel would be helpful. It allows me to budget my expenses in that I know exactly how much the warranty will cost. There will be no unexpected repair bills for that might totally blow my budget. This peace of mind can prove invaluable for some, unnecessary for others. Only you can determine your comfort level.
I quickly learned that their are two major differences in extended warranties – those that are exclusionary (listing things not covered) and those that list what is covered. Because exclusionary policies include almost everything in their coverage, rather than listing what they cover, it is easier to list what they DO NOT cover. The list is usually rather short and basically common sense. Anything normally covered by one’s RV insurance policy is not covered. Common sense, right? Things not factory installed are not normally covered. There might be some variation between policies but they are often quite similar.
Warranties that are not exclusionary are much more difficult to compare. Unless one is very well versed in all the systems that make up an RV it would be quite difficult to know how well covered one is with any particular policy. If one is going to go with this type of policy, a very important thing to find out is if the policy covers consequential damage. In other words, if the engine piston which is covered decides to have a hissy fit and it damages the radiator, is the radiator covered? In some policies of this type, it may not be if the radiator is not included in the items scheduled for coverage. Consequential damage can cover this. Some seem to believe that if you have an exclusionary policy you need to make sure it also covers consequential damage but this is not true. If it is not excluded then, by definition, it is covered. Still, it is worth checking out just to be sure.
I, for one, would not consider anything except an exclusionary warranty. There are too many surprises that can creep up otherwise. Therefore the issue of consequential damage becomes moot.
Extended warranty companies will not cover anything that is pre-existing but how do you manage to prove whether something is pre-existing or not? Naturally, with a less scrupulous company this can become an issue. There are two possible ways of handling this. One is quite simple – when going through a walk through on you rig, video tape the whole thing. In theory, that video will serve as proof as to something’s status as functioning properly when taking possession of the RV.
Another way of handling this is to get a professional to actually go through the whole RV and assess its condition, exactly as a person would do when purchasing a house and using a home inspector. This can serve two important purposes. First, it will clearly assess whether any system within the RV is functioning or not. Second, while making that assessment, if anything is found to be functioning improperly, one could then have the dealership make the necessary repairs. Once the repair is made and the proof of that repair sent to the warranty company, you should be covered for any future issues.
The company I’ve decided to go with offers an RV inspection by a neutral third party as part of their warranty. By doing this everyone is quite clear as to what is pre-existing and what is not. From my vantage point it is a great way to protect oneself. If you chose to do this on your own, there are companies that will do the inspection for you. National car inspection companies will often do this service for an RV and it may be well worth the expense to help protect oneself if the warranty company you choose doesn’t offer this service.
Extended warranty companies in the past were known to be quite flaky. They would take your money and not too long afterwards might be out of business. People too often were getting ripped off as a result. Things had to change in the industry and they did, at least for the better companies offering extended warranties. What you want to ascertain is whether or not the company’s plans are insured. If so, how reputable is the insurance company insuring your warranty? This is a very important point since there are still some companies that offer low prices to get people to sign up and, because they don’t have enough money in reserve, they end up not being able to pay out what they should and eventually go broke leaving the consumer without coverage and losing their money. Discounted companies rarely give you really what you want.
One way to learn if the company you are considering is a good one or not, besides asking those who have already been through the process, is to just go out and ask various RV repair shops.
Ultimately the real issue is whether a repair will be taken care of or not. Being on the road and finding something has failed is difficult; finding that the repair is not covered can be financially devastating.
The thing I found with extended warranties is that there are fewer obvious differences between them than with RV insurance. However, it becomes so much more important to find a company that stands behind their product. Believing you have coverage and finding out that it is being denied totally defeats the purpose of having an extended warranty.
Deductibles can vary but often can be chosen. I’m not sure if all companies offer this benefit but some will allow you to pay one deductible per visit rather than per item. While this may not make much of a difference most of the time, there may be times when this can make a huge difference in how much you have to put out. It is well worth determining how this works on any warranty you are considering.
Some people believe that banking the money spent on an extended warranty will serve them better than actually getting an extended warranty. Again, it depends entirely on your comfort level as well as your ability to do at least some of the repairs on your own. Unlike RV insurance, an extended warranty is not required and may seem like money thrown away but it can also be money well spent.
I have decided to go with Wholesale Warranties, a company acting as an intermediary between the customer and the provider. Their reputation is quite good from everything I’ve heard and they will help with claims if this ever becomes necessary. By far their staff was the most knowledgable of those I contacted and they were capable of answering every question I had.
A point or two about what is required by the purchaser of an extended warranty. It is an absolute necessity that all maintenance be done on time and receipts must be in hand. One of the people I spoke to suggested getting a surge protector for the electrical system of the RV to keep the electrical system protected from surges including a lightning strike which may not always be covered otherwise, depending on your coverage. I think this is a great idea, especially if one is planning on having any techie type things onboard. Protection is always better than having to later fix or replace something.
I offer this post to help others know what to look for in an extended warranty. The information within is the result of my own research. We are all quite different and my needs are not necessarily the same as yours. My hope is that some of my research will help you understand what to look for within an extended warranty.
© 2014 deborah kauffeld