Hi Guys! Kevin Valente here to help you answer a very common question, should I buy an extended warranty for my RV? As a former service advisor for the one of the biggest RV dealers in the country, I would get asked this question, a lot. If you have looked into purchasing an extended warranty, you are already aware that they are not cheap! Depending on your RV and the contract length of the extended warranty policy, the price can quickly climb into the thousands of dollars. The problem is, most RV dealers and repair facilities can charge $120-$170/hour to repair your rig and you do not want to get stuck paying the bill!
To understand an extended warranty better, let’s talk about what they generally do, and do not cover. 99% of the extended warranties that came across my desk covered component failure. What does that mean? If there is a part that is defective on your RV, and the service center needs to replace that part, then the part and labor would be covered under the extended warranty. For example, let’s say that you go to a service center and one of your issues is that you have very low water pressure when using your water pump. A technician looks at your issue and diagnoses that the water pump is defective and needs to be replaced. This would be considered a component failure and would fall under the extended warranty policy. However, Let’s say that the technician diagnoses that the water line from your fresh water tank to your water pump somehow got kinked and that was the cause of your issue. This would not be considered under warranty because there was no “component failure”. Yes, the line was kinked, but there is no part for your service center to bill out on your work order, therefore, no failed part.
In addition to the kinked line from my example above, other commonly not covered issues would be cracked wood, ripped vinyl flooring or cracked tile, scratches or dents, etc. These issues would be considered cosmetic and usually not qualify under the policy. Please note, I am speaking in general terms, some policies may cover these items. Just like health insurance varies based on the provider, extended warranties also vary based on price or package. I recommend anyone who is serious about purchasing an extended warranty talk to someone in the service department about which warranty may be best, not a salesman. In general, salesmen are not the most knowledgeable about what the extended warranty will and will not cover. The salesman is usually involved in the process because it is very common practice to purchase an extended warranty during the purchase of a RV. Most dealers or lenders will also let you finance the purchase of an extended warranty into your new RV purchase as well, which can be helpful for buyers who are on a budget.
You should now have an idea about what an extended warranty is and what it will and will not cover. Now I will discuss a few pros and cons of the extended warranty process and then provide you with questions to ask yourself to see if this product is right for you.
-A warranty could save you thousands of dollars depending on component failures during the life of the warranty.
-They can usually be financed into the purchase of your new or used RV.
-It can give you peace of mind that when going to a repair facility all, or most of your repairs needed will not be out of pocket.
-It is usually transferrable or refundable if you sell your RV.
-They can be pricey, sometimes thousands of dollars.
-You may still have a deductible. (Some have an option to opt for a $0 deductible at higher price of warranty.)
-It does not cover all repairs, only component failures and labor.
-Increases time your RV will spend at repair shop due to the approval process.
Important Questions to ask yourself:
1) Would I be financially burdened by a service bill in the $1000+ range?
If the answer is yes, then you should probably opt into getting the extended warranty and trying to finance the cost of your extended warranty with your purchase of the RV. One of the pros of the extended warranty is that it minimizes your out of pocket costs when your RV needs to be repaired. Therefore, if a major component like an inverter or a refrigerator went out on your RV, you would not get stuck paying the entire bill, just the deductible.
2) How often will I be using my RV?
If you will be living full-time in your RV, you should purchase an extended warranty. Just like living in a house, there is wear-and-tear associated with living in an RV. The unfortunate part is, RV repairs are generally more expensive than home repairs because you have to have specialized RV technician diagnose and repair the issue. The specialized parts that have to be ordered will also add to the bill. More time spent in the RV obviously means more wear and tear, which can translate to more repairs. If you are only using the RV a few times a year, you may not get the full benefit from an extended warranty. There will be less wear and tear, and therefore possibly less repairs. Usage of your RV is a very important consideration when determining if the extended warranty is right for you or not.
3) Where would I service my RV?
Most dealers sell an exclusive extended warranty policy contract. This product may not be labeled under the name of your dealer/service center, but is sold by your dealer/service center. Extended warranty companies like dealers/service centers because they sell their product, and Dealers/service centers like to sell the extended warranty product because it generates service work, creates profit, and gives customers peace of mind about future repairs. The important part is to buy an extended warranty from the dealer/service center you plan on servicing your RV at. Some dealers have incentives for you to bring your RV back to their service center. For example, if you service your RV at the dealer you bought the warranty from, they may waive your deductible. In most cases, they will also have a better relationship with your extended warranty carrier. For you, that could mean quicker approval and less hoops to jump through.
4) Am I flexible on repair time?
One of the downsides about the extended warranty is that repair times are generally increased due to the process that your dealer/service center has to follow to repair your rig. If you are paying for the repairs out of pocket, repairs generally go much quicker because you are just approving the repair up front and guaranteeing payment for the repair. When using an extended warranty, all your issues have to be diagnosed by a technician. Once diagnosed, the parts department has to find the parts needed for the repairs. If you have an older RV, this can be tricky and add additional time to the claim. Your service advisor will then call/email the issues in to the extended warranty company. Based on what the technician finds (component failure, or other cause) and the price of each individual repair, the extended warranty company will approve each individual line of the work order. Once the service advisor has the thumbs up on each repair, he/she can order the parts for the repair.
In some cases, the amount of the repairs can go over a certain threshold and the extended warranty company will want to send out an inspector to verify the issues. On average this process can add 3-5 days to the repair cycle. The inspector will come out, verify issues, and can take roughly 24 hours to write a report and send it back to the extended warranty company. The extended warranty company usually takes a few days to process the report and get back to your service center. Long-story-short, an extended warranty repair always takes longer than a customer pay repair. The extended warranty company understandably creates processes to make sure that the warranty claims are not fraudulent and to make sure that repairs are done correctly. The unfortunate part is, the extended warranty process can be painstakingly slow. For this reason, I recommend leaving your RV at a dealer/service center if you are going through an extended warranty claim.
5) How complex is my RV?
This is a broad question, one way to look at it is – how many electrical, plumbing, and mechanical components does my RV have? If you are buying an entry level class C motorhome or trailer, you might not consider an extended warranty because frankly, there is less to go wrong than in a class A, or diesel pusher. Conversely, if you have Class A (gas or diesel), Super C, or Fifth wheel(30ft or more) you may very seriously want to consider purchasing an extended warranty policy. These RVs usually have multiple bathrooms, TVs, lights etc. that run through your entire coach. One common wear item, especially here in Phoenix, is overhead air conditioners. Regardless of what kind of RV you own, replacement AC units can cost $1500+ per unit! If you have an RV with multiple AC units, that extended warranty policy can really come in handy if one of your AC units goes out. The more expensive the RV, usually the more expensive, technology, electrical, and plumbing. Having an extended warranty can save you a lot of money if one, or more of these very expensive systems went out.
An additional factor to remember about the extended warranty contracts is that they do not cover maintenance items. For example, your windshield wipers, brakes, tires, etc. will not be covered by a warranty. Even the caulking on your roof and around the RV is generally not covered because these items are considered “maintenance” meaning that they are not designed to last the lifetime of the RV.
Extended warranty policies are expensive, but so are out of pocket repairs. Like most purchases, you have to determine if the product makes sense for you and your family. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons and do what the makes the most sense for your situation, comfort level, and budget. I hope you found this article to be helpful. If you have any additional questions please feel free e-mail me at Kevin@UCRVAZ.com and I would be happy to assist you with any further questions. Safe Travels!