That’s a broad statement, but it’s the crux of finding the warranty that’s right for you. Extended warranties involve many variables, and whether your deal is good for you depends on them, including:
- Who is selling the warranty
- Who is the underwriter (backer)
- Warranty length
- Premiums (purchase cost)
- Deductibles (out-of-pocket costs)
- Covered repairs and parts
- Where and by whom repairs can be done
An extended RV warranty can cost well over $1,000, and as much as $20,000 for a luxury motorhome that’s lived in full-time, has high mileage on the odometer, and requires a higher level of coverage. Warranties for motorhomes cost more than for towables, but remember: If you tow, you’ll have to consider a warranty for the tow vehicle as well as for the trailer.
Before going through the variables, remember one important thing: Warranties are not insurance. You still need insurance for liability protection and to cover repairs after mishaps such as accidents and fires.
Who hasn’t gotten a call from someone supposedly selling vehicle warranties from a bogus telephone number? As with car warranties, you should never buy from callers you don’t know or give them personal information.
More than likely, you’ll buy an extended RV warranty from your local RV dealer or from an established warranty broker or warranty company. Always check the Better Business Bureau for ratings and outstanding complaints about the seller, and read consumer reviews of the company. You may be charged more by an RV dealer, but if you’re buying an RV and a warranty, the dealer has more wiggle room. (That will be denied, but don’t be afraid to push.) Establish a price for the RV alone; then start dickering on the warranty. Don’t just drive the RV—drive a hard bargain. If the dealer insists on an exorbitant price for a warranty, then counter that the RV price must drop.
Someone has to pay for your repairs, and that’s the company that issues the warranty, called the underwriter. Choose only a reliable and preferably established company. Examples are Good Sam, Eagle Vision RV and RVing Solutions. Some may offer warranties only to club members. Some may sell only through RV dealers. Still others may sell only through brokers.
Google any warranty company you consider to see if there are outstanding lawsuits, dissatisfied customers and owners who got stuck with repairs that should have been covered. As always, check BBB and read consumer reviews.
If you travel a lot, your RV is all over the map, but no more so than extended warranty premiums. There’s competition for your business, so shop around. Some companies may charge less and cover less. Others may charge more and cover more. But some may charge more for less coverage. Read the fine print.
When you pay also varies. You may have to pay the entire warranty cost upfront, even with a multi-year policy, when you buy a new RV and an extended warranty from a dealer. A warranty company with direct sales or sales through brokers may offer yearly, semiannual, quarterly or monthly payment plans, probably for a service fee.
Pay cash if you can. Rolling the warranty cost into a loan for the RV means you’ll pay interest on the warranty premium and the RV purchase, costing more in the long haul. Compare the fees charged for periodic payments against interest to see which is cheaper.
Look for a warranty that is refundable and transferrable:
- Refundable means the underwriter will pay you a prorated amount of the unused premium if your RV is a total loss.
- Transferrable means the unused part of the warranty will go to the new owner if you sell your RV. Transferrable warranties can be a good selling point.
Expect lowballing—advertising a low price and then revealing optional coverage or levels of coverage, often labeled with euphemisms like silver, gold and platinum. Add on too many packages and you’ll be missing some of your gold.
This is pretty much up to you, although some policies may limit the number of years covered. Some warranties will limit your covered mileage. Make sure you know what’s being offered.
Longer warranties, of course, cost more. In general, however, the longer the warranty, the cheaper the cost per year. That’s good, since the older an RV gets, the more likely it is to need repairs or replacements to expensive mechanical or electrical components, such as refrigerators, compressors and air conditioners. That’s also why some warranty companies don’t sell policies on used RVs.
Some warranties on used RVs require an inspection for existing defects before aproval. Look for warranties that don’t require inspections.
Covered Repairs and Parts
Extended warranties typically come in two types:
- Exclusionary warranty. This lists everything that is not covered. This type typically costs more.
- Listed components warranty. This type of policy usually costs less because it covers less. If a component or system is not listed, it is not covered. It may be preferable, however, if your concern is keeping costs down while covering the RV’s biggest, most expensive components. Extended service plans usually are in this category.
Other things to consider:
Weigh your risks and what you could afford to fix, versus what you would pay for a waranty, and buy accordingly.
Understand what labor is covered, including diagnostic costs. Policies may limit covered labor costs, requiring the RV owner to cover any excess.
Make sure you will get the parts you want. Some warranties require the RV owner to accept used parts or limit coverage to used part costs. Others guarantee new parts but still may limit how much of the cost they will pay.
If you want road service included, make sure it is. Some companies charge extra for the coverage.
Some warranties cover travel interruption costs, such as hotels, meals and car rentals. Find out whether such coverage is a reimbursement or paid up front. Warranties usually cap such costs; maximums vary.
These out-of-pocket costs vary widely by company and warranty. The owner is required to pay so much of a needed repair before coverage kicks in or, as mentioned earlier, after the warranty pays a maximum.
Typically, the higher your deductible is, the lower your premium, because you’re accepting more risk.
Where You Can Get Repairs
The more places that may do your repairs, the better.
It’s not unusual for a warranty to require that work is done in certain shops, including chains that have an agreement with the warranty company. Avoid warranties that require you to have work done where you bought the policy, or to return there if you are within so many miles. If you bought in Virginia and break down in Yosemite, and have work done back home, a warranty is worthless.
Not all warranties include mobile RV repair services, so make sure yours does if you want that protection. Sometimes it’s an extra-cost option.
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