RV Extended Warranties - Helpful Tips

12/1/2022 – Good Sam

As RV owners, you know more than most the importance of economy, efficiency, doing more with less, taking care of our possessions, and respecting the value of something—especially when it comes to running our rig.

It’s true: you can be detail-oriented. You often do well following step-by-step processes, tend to double-check our work and rest easier knowing everything has been taken care of in advance.

It makes sense, then, that you’d be interested in an RV extended warranty. Additional protection? Sure. But you want to know the details, we want the research, and you want to be able to make an informed decision when considering any kind of additional protection plan outside the manufacturer’s warranty.

Below, you’ll find some tips to include in your research when deciding if an RV extended warranty is right for you. And if you have reservations, stick around until the end to see alternative options to consider when it comes to protecting the longevity of your RV investment.

Shop around for extended warranties

When researching extended warranties online and in RV communities, you’re prone to hear at least some negative reviews. Much of the negativity you’ll see has two origins: not knowing what’s covered in a plan or getting sold the wrong extended warranty plan. The latter being most prevalent.

Dealerships typically offer some sort of extended warranty to bundle with your RV purchase. Similar to what you likely experience at an auto dealership. Keep in mind, however, that there’s usually no reason to rush into an extended warranty package—especially when your RV already comes with some form of manufacturer’s warranty.

At the very least, a new RV will provide a year’s worth of warranty, if not more, and this buys you time to shop around for the right extended warranty.

Better yet, engage your salesperson about future warranty options. You aren’t leaving today with an extended warranty, per se, but it’s something you’re planning on later down the road. This conversation might give you something even more beneficial: truthful information about warranty options.

Don’t pay for redundant warranties

When dealerships offer you extended warranties, consider that the manufacturer’s warranty covers many components of your RV already. There’s no need to pay to have additional warranty charges to overlap coverage.

This is why it’s essential to get a line-by-line list of everything covered under the manufacturer’s warranty if there are multiple warranties (coach/chassis) and when they expire. The more information you have, the better, so you can be prepared to transition to additional protection if necessary.

Some extended warranty contracts can begin once your manufacturer warranty falls off. When these are book-ended together ahead of time, you eliminate the risk of overlapping coverage or operating your RV during limited coverage gaps.

Don’t let the excitement of a new RV purchase rush you through the details of knowing what’s covered. If the manufacturer’s warranty runs thin, consider some form of a Listed Component Contract, which is a type of limited extended warranty.

Know which type of extended warranty you’re purchasing

There are several different types of extended warranties (and even more protection options in addition to those). Limited warranties, structural, powertrain, bumper-to-bumper, perforation, used, accessory—warranties can get pretty specific with what they cover.

To simplify a potentially complicated process, two types of extended warranties provide some clarity: exclusionary contracts and listed component contracts.

Exclusionary contracts

These two contracts are on opposite sides of the spectrum, with the exclusionary contract being the more generous. Here, any RV components listed in the fine print of the agreement are not covered, which makes it fairly simple for you to know what’s at risk and what you need to watch for and budget for.

Listed component contracts

A listed component contract is just the opposite of the exclusionary contract: any components listed on the contract are the covered components of your rig. If you’re worried about replacing the engine or powertrain, a listed component contract that includes those items would be ideal.

Be prepared to pay for consequential damage on your own

When extended warranty providers investigate a claim, they try to identify the root cause of the problem to know if they’re liable for replacement or reimbursement. Consequential damage occurs when a broken or damaged component affects an additional component somewhere down the line as a related issue.

Consequential damage is typically not covered in a limited extended warranty, so it’s important to know what to watch out for.

Let’s use the example of the listed component contract. In this scenario, your radiator is covered, but your thermostat isn’t. If your thermostat goes bad and causes your radiator to malfunction and require replacement, the root cause is the uncovered thermostat, not the broken radiator. And some extended warranties wouldn’t cover the consequential damage to the radiator, putting you in a bind.

Avoid modifications that void your warranty

Look in your extended warranty contract for any stipulation that mentions modifications, as some changes to covered components on your RV could void the warranty on them—even if you’re solving a slight problem with an upgraded part.

There is some gray area regarding modifications, as some warranties require proof a modification was the root cause of a bad component before the warranty will accept liability. But it’s a good rule to check the contract before making any modifications.

For example, these are common modification areas that could affect your warranty:

  1. Upgrades to electrical, plumbing, heating, or cooling systems. What modifications would put added strain on these?
  2. Installing upgraded appliances that might require higher voltage, putting your electrical at risk.
  3. Adjusting the engine’s performance.
  4. Suspension changes or improvements like sway bars, suspension replacement, levelers, etc.
  5. Weight compliance: would any modifications to the interior or exterior put additional strain on the RV or a specific portion of the RV?

Who is backing your extended warranty plan?

A warranty prevents you from shouldering the bill of unexpected repairs, but someone still has to pay at the end of the day should the situation arise. That’s why it’s essential to know who is backing the warranty.

Find out who is backing the warranty, and try to find one backed by a well-rated insurer. Or, at the least, backed by a company that has proven longevity, reliability, and transparency.

Is full-time living covered under your warranty?

As you research more, you’ll see a common thread regarding full-time RVers and how warranties apply to their situation. This comes down to language differing from multiple sources, including dealers, manuals, manufacturers, warranty contracts, and extended warranty contracts.

Some language will specify the warranty only covers regular recreational usage or that the RV in the contract should not be used as a permanent dwelling place. Due to the rise in popularity of the full-time RVer, many warranties cover full-time living. However, outdated language still exists that would exclude full-time living from the warranty.

A common theme: check with all involved parties if you plan to purchase an extended warranty as a full-time RVer, and get assurance in writing that you will still be covered.

Consider service locations

Investigate where your extended warranty will guarantee service. A potential downside to extended warranties purchased at the dealership is that they require assistance to be completed at the dealer. Which isn’t much help if you’re vacationing 1,500 miles away and need significant repair.

Some extended warranties will only require pre-approval of a service shop before work can be done to cover the repair, but make sure you get this confirmed. Other coverage options like a vehicle service contract don’t specify where you need to have repairs completed; they just will need to speak with the service provider before completing repairs or service.

Prices & payment

Know that some extended warranties require you to pay an up-front sum that pays for the extent of the warranty, opposed to month-to-month, as with some specialty insurances or regular insurances.

Also note: you will still be charged a deductible when a component needs coverage from your extended warranty. This can vary plan-to-plan, but know your initial payment doesn’t cover everything. Know what your deductible will be so you have cash in reserve should you need it.

Don’t ever assume anything

Call this redundant, but we can’t iterate enough how important it is to review any contractual warranty before purchasing. If any rock has been left unturned, there’s a good chance that specific rock might be what’s hiding a bad RV warranty experience.

Know not only what’s covered but how consequential damage situations would go. Plan not only for how long your current manufacturer’s warranty will last but also for transitioning onto a new, extended warranty.

Consider alternatives to extended warranties

So, if you find an extended warranty just doesn’t make sense for you after your research, what then? There are other protections and ways to save to give you the peace of mind that you’re prepared for the unexpected.

Designate rainy day funds for unexpected repair costs. Many RV owners forgo the expenses to pay for an extended warranty or additional insurance and instead begin a honey pot that grows over time, so they’re prepared when the expensive, necessary repair does come. The strategy here is consistency: continuously add to the pot and never touch that resource unless needed for repair.