Extended Auto Warranties Buyers Guide
When you purchase a new car, the manufacturer usually offers a warranty that will cover any major break downs for a certain amount of time. As we all know, nothing breaks till a week after your warranty expires. That’s how it usually seems, anyway. The warranties are usually only for a short time, during which cars simply won’t be used enough to break down.
For so many people, living on a tight budget between paychecks, a broken vehicle can be catastrophic. You need your car to get to work, but you can’t afford to skip out on a bill to pay for the repairs. In this Catch-22, what can the average person do but go into debt putting repairs on a credit card? Instead, you could have an auto repair service plan, commonly called an extended auto warranty, that will cover the cost of the repairs for you.
What is an auto repair service?
After your manufacturer’s warranty expires, you can purchase an auto repair service, or extended auto warranty, to pay for any repairs for which you are covered. This monthly fee works like insurance: if your car breaks down, and the part that needs to be fixed is covered by your extended warranty, it will be paid for by the company. These service plans are available through many different companies, both online and not.
What to Look For?
There are hundreds of companies selling Extended Warranties direct to consumers. There are a few things you should look for in the company you choose to buy from. The first thing you should look for is a company that has been in business for a decent amount of time. Many companies come and go in this industry. If they haven’t been around for at least 5 years what makes you think they will be there when you need them. There are many companies that come in to this industry, collect premiums for a few years, then vanish into thin air. You do not want to be in a position where your Extended Warranty Company is not available when you need them most.
Another new trend is companies selling Extended Warranties that are not insured. Not only is this illegal in most jurisdictions, it rarely ends well for the paying customer. These companies rarely stay in business for more than a few years and when they are gone, you have absolutely no recourse. If you are being sold a policy and the price is too good to be true it probably is. Make sure that your contract states in black and white what insurance company insures the liability of your contract. If it is not stated on the contract it is because it is not insured. If a company is willing to sell you a policy that does not meet State and Federal Guidelines what makes you think they will pay your claim when the time comes?
What kinds of plans are available?
You can get plans for nearly any budget and any need. For those who can’t afford or don’t want an extensive coverage service plan, you can purchase a basic monthly service plan that covers only the most expensive repairs, such as engine and transmission break downs. Some companies offer tiered plans that make it easy to add services that you want covered until you get to the right amount of coverage for your budget.
Prices for auto warranty plans are almost unanimously kept off the Internet; you’ll have to call for a quote, and the type of car you drive plus your driving history will play a part in how much you pay for the service coverage.
Word of Caution
Before you purchase any warranty plan, you need to be sure that you have the coverage you need. For example, you may wish to examine your auto insurance, your manufacturer’s warranty, and even your credit card benefits, to be sure that you aren’t already covered for some of these services.
Avoid companies that offer uninsured policies. Companies which write their own policies are referred to as "Direct Sellers" - they handle their own claims and have a long history of going out of business. Over a hundred of these warranty/service contract companies have either been shut down or closed their doors overnight, leaving policy holders with no coverage. On the other hand, established companies which offer insured plans provide an extra layer of protection and the peace-of-mind from unexpected repair bills.
Then, be sure that you read the fine print on any warranty you purchase. Some companies require that you keep proof of regular yearly upkeep on a vehicle before they’ll pay for any claims. You may find that issues can be smoothed out by the broker used.
For drivers of older model vehicles with no way to get manufacturers to extend warranties, or to get the most service-rich insurance, these extended auto warranties can be real life savers. Just be sure to read the fine print, and do your homework before signing anything.