Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About RV Warranties

RV Warranties: Who, What, When

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Does an RV extended warranty make sense? Today, it may appear that extended warranties are available for nearly everything, from items as small as toasters, all the way up to RVs. RV Travel guest writer Jeff Shelton from Wholesale Warranties provides an opinion for why an RV extended warranty could be a good idea - and what to watch out for before making a purchase.

RV extended warranty plans are a popular topic of discussion among travelers, but it can be surprisingly difficult to unearth any detailed information about these policies. The web is filled with an array of horror stories, positive testimonials, and heated opinions, making it virtually impossible to educate yourself on the contracts themselves. Before you can decide if an RV warranty is a worthwhile investment for you, you’ll need to answer the who, what, and when behind these hotly debated contracts.

What Is an RV Warranty?

Now that we know the “who” to purchase from, we need to discover “what” exactly an RV warranty does? RV warranties, or RV extended service contracts, provide coverage for mechanical breakdowns on your towable or motorized RV. These policies will step in to pay the RV repair costs for mechanical components ranging from the diesel engine to the slide-outs, leveling system, hot water system, air conditioning units, refrigerator, and more.

There are several different levels of coverage available to RVers, but the most common options are:

  • Listed component RV warranty: This type of policy will list exactly which items will be covered by the contract. If the failure you experience is not on this list, it will not be covered.
  • Exclusionary RV warranty: An exclusionary policy is the most comprehensive coverage available. This contract will list items specifically excluded by the policy. If your breakdown is not on the list of exclusions, then it will be covered.

It is also important to understand what an RV warranty is not. An extended RV warranty is not an insurance policy, and will specifically exclude all physical and collision-related damages. RV warranties are also not designed to cover your regular maintenance, and will not pay for oil changes, tire rotations, refrigerator cleaning, or any other manufacturer required maintenance tasks. RV warranties specifically exclude aesthetic damages as well, including windows, furniture, awning materials, flooring, and upholstery.

Who Offers RV Extended Warranties?

RVers have two major options on where to purchase coverage: RV dealerships or online RV warranty providers. Most RV dealerships will offer an RV warranty at some point during the purchase of the vehicle. Buyers also have the option of turning to an online provider to research coverage. While each contract varies, online providers will generally be able to offer a policy to motorhome and towable RVs within 13 model years of age, and around 100,000 miles. In addition, you do not need to be in the process of purchasing your RV to secure coverage with an online provider.

Once you’ve gotten a quote from one or both of these options, the real fun begins! Always research the “who” behind the policy to ensure that you are purchasing coverage you can rely on. Start your research on popular consumer advocacy websites such as the Better Business Bureau, Google+ reviews, or Customer Lobby. These sites allow customers to leave honest reviews of the service they received, and cannot be altered or removed by the company in question, giving readers a genuine picture of how a warranty provider will perform.

Additionally, a reliable RV warranty provider will always allow you to view a full copy of the terms and conditions of coverage before asking you to sign on the dotted line. They should also fully educate you on the type of policy you are purchasing, including what will and will not be covered, as well as how to file a claim should you face a breakdown while traveling.

When Should I Purchase an RV Warranty?

The easy answer: Now!

Modern RVs are complex machines, and with the added technology and features comes a higher cost of repair. Current RV claim and repair statistics show that the average cost of RV repairs runs $300 per hour between parts and labor. RV warranty coverage can offer a safeguard from these high repair costs, but you must secure coverage before running into an issue.

Another reason to purchase as soon as possible lies with your probability of breakdown. With each passing year and mile driven, the likelihood of your vehicle suffering a major breakdown increases. In fact, 3 out of every 10 RVs will suffer a mechanical failure by only their 2nd year on the road. This jumps to 8 out of 10 RVs by their 5th year and nearly every RV by their 8th year in-service. As time goes on, you are more likely to suffer a costly breakdown, and more likely to see an increase in the cost of RV warranty coverage.

If you have decided that an RV warranty is worth the investment, securing coverage now can save you big down the road.

Buyer Beware

Like many extended warranties and insurance coverage offered on the market, it’s important to read the fine print. Terms and conditions will vary between RV warranties. To avoid surprises when you need service, you must read everything your extended warranty covers and ensure you know what it doesn’t. Many extended warranties fail to offer coverage for simply having your RV looked at by a service center; many companies also pay months down the line versus more timely. You may have to pay out of pocket for services rendered and wait for your extended warranty company to reimburse you in certain circumstances.

One of the best ways to determine if an RV warranty is right for you is to talk to service centers in your area. They’ll be able to give you advice on which companies they have found are best to work with, pay out promptly, and offer comprehensive coverage.  This can give you some insight into whether an RV extended warranty is the right way to go. Be sure to check out RV forums, membership communities, and just talk with fellow RVers are your travels to find out if investing in this type of coverage will help you or set you back in the long run.

Whether or not to purchase an RV warranty is a personal decision, but every traveler should be educated on the type of protection available to them. Major mechanical failures are a real threat to an RVers budget, and the sooner you secure coverage, the easier your life will be when an inevitable breakdown occurs. Always buy your coverage from a reputable RV dealer or online RV warranty provider, read the contract carefully to ensure you understand what will and will not be covered, and purchase soon to better prepare for the road ahead.

Jeff Shelton has spent over a decade in the recreational vehicle industry, becoming the leading expert in RV protection products. As owner of Wholesale Warranties, Jeff has solidified himself as an elite member of the RV industry and community.