Service Agreements and Extended Warranties
RVs are expensive. When you spend money on high-dollar items like cars and RVs, there is always the worry of the cost of repairs down the road. These fears of future bills prompt many people to consider purchasing extended warranties and repair service agreements. Extended warranties are very common and are offered on almost every large purchase you make.
Do you need an extended warranty? As with most other RV topics, there are two schools of thought on this subject. You will find a group of RV owners who swear that extended warranties and service agreements are a very necessary expense and will make your life more secure. Other RV owners will tell you that they are a waste of money — just another way for RV dealers to take money out of your wallet. Whom do you believe? The Service Contract Industry Council admits that 80 percent of extended warranties never have a claim filed against them. Newer RVs are generally well built and breakdowns are not generally an everyday occurrence. New RVs are also covered by a manufacturer's warranty (the length of which will depend on the manufacturer). In addition, most RV owners are usually very adept do-it-yourselfers who often find it easier to fix the small problems that crop up and to take care of routine maintenance.
When you buy a new RV, it is a given that the salesperson will offer you an extended or service warranty. These are very profitable add-on products that dealerships make a lot of money from. Your salesperson, working on commission, wants the final sales price to be as high as possible — and the more you spend, the bigger his or her commission check.
Some RV dealers use high-pressure tactics in promoting these products. Don't let a salesperson pressure you. Stand firm and only purchase this option if you really feel it is in your best interest to do so.
Before you buy these warranties or service contracts, read them over very carefully and ask questions if there is wording you don't understand. Don't take the dealer's word on what will and will not be covered. Look carefully at the restrictions and at the deductibles. It may be cheaper to just do it yourself and not pay the deductible. The contract should also specify where you can get service. If you are restricted to only a few options for service in the immediate area, this agreement will not do you much good on a cross-country trip.
You should also take a good look at your manufacturer's warranty. If you have a warranty that covers the rig bumper to bumper (or tongue to bumper) for seven years and you plan on trading up in three years, an extended warranty makes no sense, unless it is transferable (a rarity).
If you are considering purchasing an extended warranty or service agreement, investigate the company that offers this coverage. There have been many of these companies that have turned out to be fly-by-night operators who have gone out of business and left their customers high and dry.
If you do decide that an extended warranty or service contract is worth the cost, be sure to always carry the paperwork in the RV. If you cannot show proof of coverage, you may have to shell out a large amount of money that you did not plan on. You may be able to get reimbursed after the fact, but if you are already traveling on a budget it could end up changing your vacation plans.
There is one instance when an extended warranty may be a very wise choice. If you purchase a used RV from a dealer that sells new and used RVs, you may be offered an extended warranty during the sales process. Most used RVs are sold “as is” with no warranty available. If one is offered, look it over carefully and decide, based on the condition of the rig, its age, and the cost of warranty if it is a good deal. When you buy used, you also buy the previous owner's preventive maintenance (or lack of same). If the rig has been well taken care of, an extended warranty may be a waste of money.
Most extended warranties and service contracts contain language that will void liability for payment if the RV has not been used as recommended (overloaded, for example) or if recommended maintenance has not been done. Keep your receipts for proof when and if you need to make a claim.