With Tony Barthel
From the editor: Tony Barthel is a warranty expert, and he’s here to answer your questions. Check out these two articles if you have any questions or thoughts on extended warranties: Should I buy an extended warranty for my RV? And, What kind of extended warranty should I get?
Here’s one question from a reader:
My extended warranty company requires an estimate for all work prior to starting, in order to get an approval number. What should their turnaround time be for an approval number? I travel 1,800 miles round-trip to this service center that specializes in my brand. They scheduled us for 2 days to complete all work and yearly maintenance. They do not work with an extended warranty so I will be reimbursed and have to do all the negotiating. Any points on negotiating? —Rootie Canal
Hi, Rootie Canal,
Each company that handles extended warranties has its own practices for payment on those, but it is fairly universal that they require preapproval for reimbursement. For example, in another column, the covered RVer was hoping to be reimbursed for work they wouldn’t be covered for, so it would be unfair to the RV’s owner and possibly to the repair shop if they were unable to pay for the repair.
So the procedure I’ve come across the most is to submit photographs of the repair along with your information and the vehicle information to the company that’s covering you. From there they make a decision and how long that takes depends on the company’s backlog of claims and when the claim is made. A company I’ve worked with frequently has several claim agents working from their home so, even on Saturdays, we were able to get claims turned around very quickly.
But other times more decisions were involved. I’ve also had to resubmit additional pictures or other information in order to get a claim covered. For example, we had a claim where there was water damage that the claimant thought was caused by a faulty seal but, it turned out, they didn’t have their slide room all the way in. Again, that was an operator error and not covered by the warranty.
As for the speed of repairs, right now RV parts are in short supply. In fact, I damaged the awning on my own trailer and a replacement for the awning is likely not going to happen in the coming months. Living in California, I use the trailer year-round, so it’s a bummer as I spend most of my RVing time under the awning. Oh, well. Stupid tree.
What you might consider doing is speaking with the repair facility that you’ve chosen and make sure that they have the parts for your repair available so you don’t have to make multiple trips. You might also be able to work directly with your warranty company and provide the necessary documentation to facilitate the repairs being covered.
Delays caused by parts availability are probably the biggest challenge in the RV repair industry right now, so making sure the facility already has the parts could go a long way toward a speedy repair. You may have to pay for parts in advance, although not usually.
As for negotiating a repair, the more accurate information you have on the circumstances of the issue the better off you’ll be. There’s a big difference between saying, “I don’t know, the heater just doesn’t work,” and telling them under what circumstances things are happening. For example, if you can tell them that you hear the blower starting and the flame just doesn’t ignite, they might already be able to narrow down what’s wrong or at least have an idea of which specific areas it might be.
The more you know about the function of your RV the better off you’ll be in any circumstance. Knowing how to listen for both normal and abnormal performance from components in your RV can be very beneficial. In fact, I frequently pull my trailer with the radio off in the tow vehicle and windows down so I can listen for any sounds that aren’t normal.