By Tony Barthel
RVtravel.com asked you for your RV warranty questions and we have been flooded with responses. We have a series of articles upcoming about RV warranties – both the standard warranty and extended warranties. In this first of many articles, we start by looking at extended warranties and things you can look for when buying one.
Here’s a question from reader Rick:
I often wonder if an extended warranty is worth the initial expense. Can I count on the provider to honor the contract? I’ve read many stories about claim denial issues and so forth. Very concerned and confused. I travel about 3-4 months a year in a Newmar Bay Star. —Rick
As with so many things in life, there is no one answer to this question. An RV warranty is a gamble in many ways. You’re gambling that something expensive is going to break; the warranty company is gambling that it won’t. There are also better warranty companies and some definitely stack the deck in their favor.
Essentially there are two kinds of RV warranties: EXclusionary and INclusionary.
An INclusionary policy is going to tell you all the things they include. If you look through their paperwork there will be a surprisingly long list of items that are covered. These lists are really long on the things they include in their coverage so it looks quite comprehensive. Oftentimes there are components that you hadn’t even thought of, and these policies can really make you feel good.
But check how the policy is written and under what circumstances it actually goes into effect. I’ve experienced a situation where minor breaks then cause a failure in something major and the warranty company can use that to not cover the cost of repairs. For example, imagine if a GFI power outlet fails which causes an electrical issue that then causes your residential refrigerator to fail. Yes, I’ve seen it happen. And it wasn’t covered by the warranty company.
Then there is the EXclusionary warranty. While it may sound like this would be a worse type of coverage, it’s usually not. What this warranty’s policy information tells you is all the things that are not covered – or are EXcluded. All warranties basically exclude wear items like tires and brakes and that sort of thing, but the EXclusionary policies will also tell you other things that might not be covered by their plans.
In the EXclusionary plan, if something breaks and it’s not specifically excluded in the warranty, it’s covered. In most of the cases that I have seen, the Exclusionary policies do a better job of covering you as there are fewer clauses and conditions that the warranty company can use to get out of covering a repair.
Of course, it is in your best interest to evaluate all the aspects of the warranty and the company behind it. I will tell you that all warranty companies are going to have both great reviews and horrible reviews and it’s going to be part of the process to see if there’s a pattern in those reviews or not.
In future columns, we’ll talk about how to look at the company you’re considering, whether you should buy from a dealer or not, and more. If you have an RV warranty-related question you can submit them here and we’ll do our best to get back to you. —Tony