What's The Deal With RV Warranties?
RV Warranties – a hot topic in the world of RVing. Hit the community forums and you’ll find countless threads with mixed reviews. Moreover, many influential RVers will have their own opinions about coverage and providers alike.
So how do you make a decision on whether or not to buy an extended warranty?
The first step is education. Not all warranty providers are created equal, and understanding what you want out of your coverage will narrow down your choices. If you’re brand new to RV warranties and protection products, start here to get a better picture of what this coverage does.
The Value of an RV Warranty
Cost Effective Planning – The most important feature of a warranty is that it will step in to pay the repair cost of mechanical and electrical failures in your rig. As motorhomes and towable RVs have become increasingly complex, the demand for skilled RV mechanics has risen, resulting in an average cost that can devastate any budget. Oftentimes these inevitable repairs are needed when you least expect it, and on average you’ll be spending about $300 per hour for parts and labor.
Personalized Coverage – RV warranty plans will differ significantly depending on the provider, but a reliable one will personalize coverage for your travel needs.
There isn’t a one size fits all RVer, and your warranty should be unique to your travel style. Whether your rig needs exclusionary coverage, listed component coverage, powertrain only coverage, or coach only coverage, you should be able to start with a base policy and add additional features that are important to your specific RV life.
So what do these various levels of coverage look like? Here’s a quick breakdown on the types of policies available:
Types of RV Warranty Policies
Exclusionary RV Warranty
This level of coverage will tell you exactly what is NOT covered by the policy. If your breakdown is not on the contract’s specific exclusions list, then it will be covered. Typical exclusions include maintenance items, physical damages, and aesthetic items like glass and upholstery. With so little room for interpretation, this exclusionary level of coverage is the most comprehensive option on the market.
Listed Component RV Warranty
Another comprehensive option, this policy read as the exact opposite of an Exclusionary contract. That is, a Listed Component RV warranty will provide a list of what IS covered by the policy. If the failure is not specifically listed as covered, it will be excluded.
Powertrain Only RV Warranty
Built for the motorhome owner who is looking to protect their budget from the most catastrophic possible breakdowns, a Powertrain Only policy will cover your engine, transmission and drive axle components. All other failures are excluded by this type of contract.
Coach Only RV Warranty
This type of warranty policy will offer coverage to the mechanical components housed in the “coach” of the unit. Your engine, powertrain, and drive axle will be specifically excluded.
Add On Features
Add-Ons, whether you pay an additional fee or the warranty provider adds these into the contract pro-bono, are an extremely important enhancement to your policy.
Regardless of which level of coverage you choose, a quality policy will include “Wear and Tear” failures without an additional charge. Wear and Tear is difficult to define, but generally speaking, a policy that allows for wear and tear coverage will cover claims on components that have worn past manufacturer specifications, but have not fully stopped functioning. Consider a slide-out motor that is running slowly, but still running. With Wear and Tear, you won’t need to wait until you’re stuck with a stalled slide to have repairs covered.
If you’re looking for the ultimate peace of mind with your warranty, consider “Consequential Loss” coverage as an add-on. This can be a major differentiator between policies, with only the highest rated contracts offering Consequential Loss. This coverage is a standard contract exclusion defined as damage to a covered part caused by the action or inaction of a non-covered part.
These slight differences between warranties can be the distinguishing factor between a good experience and a bad one with a policy. The inclusion of Wear and Tear and Consequential Loss coverage lessen the ambiguity within a warranty plan, and make for a top-of-the-line policy.
How to Find Reliable RV Warranty Coverage
Insurance Backed Policies – Every quality warranty policy will be backed by a stable insurance carrier, and it will often be one that you’re familiar with. The insurance backer of an extended RV warranty ensures your claims will be paid even if the warranty provider or administrator goes out of business. Buying a policy without an insurance backer is a huge financial risk, and is never recommended.
Community Opinions and Reviews – Educate yourself on the specific warranty provider using forums, reviews, and community message boards. RVers tend to be extremely helpful, and give their honest opinions about companies and products. Choose a policy with a reputation for great customer service and fair claims processing.
Sites like the Better Business Bureau, Google, Customer Lobby, iRV2.com and RVNetwork.com are all great resources for unsolicited information about real RVer warranty experiences.
Read Your Coverage – As a consumer, you deserve the opportunity to research your warranty on your own. To do this, you’ll want to read through an exact copy of the plan. If your salesperson is not willing to provide you with that contract, it could mean they’re misrepresenting what they’re selling you.
A reputable warranty provider will walk you through all of your options, and guide you through the process of finding the policy that’s right for you and your budget. If you’re only able to dissect a brochure or limited view of the policy, you won’t get a full picture of what your warranty will and won’t cover in the event of a breakdown.
Extended RV Warranty Eligibility for RVers
Most extended RV warranties are purchased at the same time as the vehicle. If you’re making that purchase through a dealership, you’ll likely hear their warranty pitch during the buying process. Make sure you explore your options and get a quote elsewhere to compare.
If you don’t purchase a warranty alongside your rig at the dealership, or you purchased an RV via private party, you’re still in luck. Most online providers will be able to offer their coverage for motorhomes as far back as 20 model years old with less than 125,000 miles on the odometer. For towable RVs, coverage will typically stop around 15 model years old.
When Should I Buy an RV Warranty?
Another important part of the search for reliable coverage is timing. While many RVers believe they are only able to get coverage from the dealer at the time they are purchasing the RV itself, this is actually incorrect. Online RV warranty providers will be able to set you up with coverage at any point during your RVing journey, whether you’re buying a new unit, a used RV, working with a private party or dealership, coming out of another warranty, or simply a long-time RVer interested in protecting their road ahead.
That being said, there are certainly some key points to keep in mind as you look into when to secure your RV warranty protection. We’ll go into a few of the most important ones here.
Should I wait until the manufacturer warranty has expired to buy an extended RV warranty?
To put it simply, you will never get a longer term at a better price than when your rig is brand new.
Extended RV warranty providers know that the manufacturer warranty will take precedence, particularly during the first year the RV is in service, so they offer great rates to these units. Securing your policy, likely up to seven years of coverage, when your manufacturer warranty is in place will allow you to take advantage of these savings.
Your next question might be: but won’t I have overlapping coverage? And the answer is yes! However, the cost savings may mean this isn’t such a bad thing. Further, any repairs that aren’t covered by your manufacturer can be pushed to your extended protection. This will vary based on your specific contract, but providers like Wholesale Warranties include great additional benefits in their policies, such as RV Roadside Assistance, Tire and Wheel Protection and RV Tech Assistance. While your manufacturer may take care of the repairs during the first year, they likely won’t provide coverage for things like blown tires, tows, lockout services, and more. If you secure your RV extended warranty right away, you can utilize these services should you need them at any time during your policy term.
So, should you wait? It’s up to you! Just keep in mind this decision will affect the price and term you are able to secure for your RV warranty.
It’s winter and I won’t be using my rig. Should I wait until spring to buy an RV warranty?
Another factor RVers will want to take into account is the time of year. As many RVers store their rigs during the winters, they will elect to hold off on buying an extended warranty until they’re actively traveling again. And while this is an option, it’s something most RV warranty providers will caution you against.
Again, this is going to come down to pricing. On January 1st of each new year, all RVs are considered one model year older. Age of the vehicle is one of the major components in how RV warranty providers price out their protection options. As your rig ages, the likelihood of failure increases, which will drive up the cost of your policy. This means that as all rigs age each new calendar year, the cost of RV protection for these vehicles does go up.
Additionally, these changes at the new year may affect the level of coverage and term you qualify for. Some RVs will age out of coverage all together, while some may see a significant drop in the length of policy they can purchase along with an increase in price.
And lastly, while it can be tempting to not pay for RV protection until after the winter season is over, it may cost you on an RV repair front. Many RV warranty providers report a significant number of claims occur in the spring, particularly for RVs that have been stored all winter. These vehicles are really not made to sit unattended without being driven, and therefore suffer breakdowns during these periods of disuse. If you have your RV warranty in place before you put your rig into storage, any of these failures that are covered by your policy will be paid for! If you wait, you’ll have to pay for the repairs, and then pay for your RV warranty protection after those repairs are completed.
So, What’s the Deal with RV Warranties?
Not everyone will want an extended warranty, and will prefer to take the financial risk against the odds of a breakdown. On the other hand, there are many RVers that believe the peace of mind is worth the investment. Protecting your travel budget is much easier when you know you have a provider who will go up to bat for you when an unexpected breakdown happens. That’s exactly what a reliable warranty company will do. There’s a lot of education, case studies, and reviews out there – so do your research and use these tools to decide if this type of coverage is right for you!
Jeff is the owner of Wholesale Warranties, a leading provider of RV protection direct to consumer. Jeff grew up in his family marina business along the St. Croix River, and has kept his passion for travel and the outdoors ever since. Jeff is a former full-time RVer, and enjoys hitting the road as often as possible.
Jeff is dedicated to serving the RV community through Wholesale Warranties, and built his company on a foundation of education, quality RV warranty products, and reliable customer service.