The extended warranty concept is very much like life insurance. The life insurance company is betting that you will live, and you are betting that you won’t. Carrying that example forward, RV extended warranty companies are betting that little will go wrong, and the buyer is betting that things will.
Readers of Consumer Reports and other sources have historically heard that the extended warranty is unnecessary, and recommends against them for cars and major appliances. Therefore, it would be logical to assume that RV extended warranties are also a bad deal for the customer.
However, in most cases the logic of this argument needs to be reconsidered when considering an RV. Cars and major appliances are built in far greater numbers than any RV model. The manufacturing process is refined and the resulting product is very predictable. All mainstream car companies offer
at least a 36 month warranty as standard. Some go to 60 months, with power trains going to 100,00 miles. A normal year’s production of a mainstream class A diesel pusher could be less than 500. Almost all RVs have only a 12 month “bumper-to-bumper” warranty. Why the difference between cars and RVs?
1) With such a small number of RVs built, the manufacturing process is mostly manual. This lack of automated assembly results in a high variance in quality and gives little time for feedback regarding errors in design or faulty components.
2) RVs are dramatically more complex than any car. In most cases, they can be thought of as a house on wheels. RVs have all the same capabilities of a house – fresh water systems, water heaters, ducted air conditioning and heaters, entertainment systems and much much more. Take this complex set of
systems and subject them to a 3,000 mile trip across the country, bouncing on roadways, pushed side to side over gravel, dealing with potholes and uneven road surfaces, and it is easy to understand why fittings, connections and other critical components could easily have a hard time.
This results in the development of many problems over the life of a RV and explains why the manufacturer limits their responsibility to 12 months. Finding a good, reliable and stable company to provide an extended warranty for an RV helps to deal with these problems whenever they occur – and they will occur!
While these warranties come from a number of companies, they are not all the same. One common point is the decision around the length, mileage and deductable of the coverage you want. After that it gets tricky and requires asking the right questions based on how you will use the RV. For example,
the normal policy provided by Good Sam, a reputable and fairly priced leader in the industry, does not include the wiring in the RV as part of their coverage. So, if your RV won’t start one day, and the cause is found to be a short in the wiring, your extended warranty will not cover it. For example, an RVer got stuck in Amarillo, Texas because the RV would not start. The RV was towed to a repair shop, where 3 days later they found a short in the wiring between the starter switch and the starter. This might sound like an
easy issue to solve, but the cost of the repair was $1200 and was not covered under the extended warranty.
The bottom line here, is that unlike cars, extended warranties for RVs make a lot of sense – if you get the right one. Most extended warranties purchased from the dealer can be worked into the RV financing, making everything easier to handle. If you don’t know what questions to ask to select the right policy, start with these:
– What is NOT covered by the policy?
– Does the policy require me to pay first and then get reimbursed, or will the company pay the repairer directly (less the deductable)?
– Is there any restriction on who can perform the repairs?
– Is there a limit on the distance the vehicle can be towed?
Clearly, extended warranties for RVs are a good idea if you intend to keep the RV for more than one year. Finding the right policy not only provides piece of mind, but will allow you to be sure that you will not be surprised by the cost of fixing the problems that might eventually occur.