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Extended warranties provide peace of mind to many RVers

By the New RVer staff

Buying an extended warranty for your motorhome or other RV is a bit like gambling. But unlike most gambling, the odds of a payoff on an RV extended warranty are excellent. The advent of the Internet has made an extended warranty even more desirable thanks to online companies that have deeply discounted their rates because of no middleman.

An extended warranty pays for repairs on your RV after a regular manufacturer's warranty has run its course. And, as most veteran motorists well know, the biggest, baddest repairs always seem to come 10 miles or 10 minutes after a warranty expires. It's one of the unwritten rules of nature.

Most RVs come with a three year/36,000 mile warranty on the chassis and a one year warranty on the coach's components. Once the warranty period expires, the owner is on his or her own to pay for repairs and failures of equipment. Extended warranties pick up where these initial warranties leave off. For many RVers, having an extended warranty provides great peace of mind.

RV dealers "push" extended warranties because they are highly profitable. The warranty companies, in turn, must raise their rates to ensure their profit after the dealer's cut. Online companies don't have this commission to pay and may offer a better price.

An important factor in buying a warranty is to deal with a reputable company. The most reputable warranty companies are underwritten by "A" rated insurance companies as rated by AM Best Company, Standard and Poor and others. Be very careful in buying an extended warranty from a business that will not disclose the rating of the company that actually backs the policy.

We know of a recent horror case involving extended warranties that were sold by a financially shaky RV dealer. When the company later declared bankruptcy, it was learned that the dealer had not paid the extended warranty company for the policies it had sold its customers. Ouch!

Extended warranties are sold on both new and used RVs. Generally, very old or high mileage RVs will not be eligible.

One of the most popular extended repair programs is offered by the one-million strong Good Sam Club. Its Continued Service Plan covers repairs on the coach, engine, appliances, and accessories of a new or used motorhome, trailer and tow vehicle. Good Sam provides a free online quote.

How will the RV you purchase affect the warranty price?

Depending on what type of Recreational Vehicle you purchase, the cost to protect yourself from the high cost of repairs can vary by quite a bit. Here are some very general guidelines to let you know how different factors can affect your warranty cost (the dollar amounts listed are approximate and will vary depending on the quality of coverage in the contract you purchase, the company you are dealing with and may depend on other factors such as vehicle age and such) Keep in mind that the figures below are very general and will likely vary from company to company.

1. Engine Type – Diesel Engines will cost from $100 to $500-600 more depending on their location (rear is more expensive).

2. Engine Location – Rear engines can run from $50 - $350 more for gas engines and about $300 - $5-600 more for diesel.

3. Engine Manufacturer - Most companies exclude Renault built engines.

4. Engine Features – Turbochargers will add from between $150 - $400 to the price of coverage. Some engine modifications can void warranties; generally these include items done to modify performance that are not factory (or factory approved dealer) installed. Though these types of modifications are more common on automobiles, you should still be aware if any of them have been performed, especially on used vehicles.

5. Vehicle Age and Mileage – This seems a fairly obvious one, but you should be aware of the general guidelines. As the vehicle increases in age there is usually a surcharge added in for every year past the last couple (or few) years. These run somewhere between $25 and $150 for each year. With mileage, generally the surcharges start a bit earlier and are higher than you would expect to see in an automobile warranty. Usually there is a fairly low threshold (10,000 – 20,000 miles) after which there is usually a surcharge added, this is usually done in increments (e.g. 12,000-20,000; 20,000-35,000, etc.). These surcharges are usually higher than the year surcharges and run from $100 - $400. There may also be additional charges for things like seals and gaskets that range from $50 - $200. The age and mileage will also determine if you are eligible for bumper to bumper coverage if available (almost everything is covered) or major component coverage (most everything is covered but not to the same degree as bumper to bumper).

6. Accessories – You can expect to pay somewhere between $75 - $350 to add coverage for the extras (DVD, Satellite Dish, TV, Stereo, etc.). This area of coverage can vary widely. Some contracts cover some but not all and some cover none. It will depend on these factors. There may also be charges to cover Navigation systems separate from the cost of the above accessories.

7. Components – These things may or may not be included and will cost between $50-$250 to add coverage for if not included: slide-out rooms, power step systems, leveling systems, and awning components.


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Contents copyright 2003 by Chuck Woodbury, Out West Newspaper.

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