The Ins and Outs of RV Extended Warranties

RV Owners

On the market for a new travel trailer or motorhome? Congratulations! Shopping for your next vacation vehicle is super exciting… and more than a little overwhelming, too. Along with figuring out which RV class, size, footprint, manufacturer, and dealer you want to work with, you’ll also be facing decisions about how you’ll protect your investment.

Insurance is important, of course — and in some states, legally mandated. But if you’re buying from a dealership, you’ll likely also be offered the option for an RV extended warranty. Should you buy it? How much will it cost, and what does it actually cover?

These days, there are almost as many recreational vehicle warranty policies as there are recreational vehicles. And when you’re already facing such an astronomical cost, it can be difficult to pull the trigger on any additional expense.

But for some RVers, an RV extended warranty can be a great source of peace of mind… and offer valuable savings down the road when repair needs inevitably arise. On the other hand, not all RV extended warranties are created equally — and if your servicer falls through right when they’re needed, the cost is pretty much a total waste.

Sounds scary, we know. But don’t worry! We’ll walk you through all you need to know about how to decide if you need — and shop for — an RV warranty in this post.

Are RV Extended Warranties Worth It?

If you found this page after searching for RV extended warranties, chances are you just want the answer to one simple question: should you buy one? Are they worth it, or no?

Unfortunately, there is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this question. And part of the reason is that RV extended warranties come in all manner of shapes and sizes, and a few different distinct categories you should understand. There are also a wide variety of RV extended warranty companies, each of which have their own reputations, reviews, and policies. Let’s take a closer look at what an RV extended warranty is to get a better answer to the “is it worth it?” question.

What Is an RV Extended Warranty?

An RV extended warranty is not actually warranty — which is, definitionally, a policy offered by a manufacturer to guarantee the workmanship and quality of its product by offering to repair or replace it for free for a set amount of time after purchase.

Rather, RV extended warranties are offered by third-party companies at the time of RV purchase, and are also sometimes called RV extended service contracts or RV extended service plans.

Extended warranties are available for a wide variety of RVs — and, in fact, a wide variety of vehicles in general. Chances are you’ve encountered extended warranty products while shopping for cars or trucks in the past, and they’re similarly available for motorhomes, travel trailers and other types of recreational vehicles.

So what makes an RV extended warranty worthwhile… or not? What does it actually cover?

Well, that all depends.

What Does an RV Extended Warranty Cover?

What’s included in your RV extended warranty coverage depends on what type of RV extended warranty you purchase. There are three main categories to be aware of.

Exclusionary RV Extended Warranties

Exclusionary RV extended warranties are just that: exclusionary. Which is to say, the warranty company offers buyers a list of specific repair or maintenance problems that are not covered… but everything else, which isn’t listed, falls within the bounds of coverage.

These are the most extensive (and thus, most expensive) RV extended warranties available, and they do offer a lot of peace of mind for travelers who think they’re worth the price. They usually cover mechanical components including not only your coach’s engine but all major indoor appliances, and often even your leveling system, slide-outs, and some luxury items like electronics.

However, it’s important to understand that even these warranties do have exclusions and maintenance items that fall outside of coverage, so it’s not a fix-all for every repair issue you could possibly encounter. Common exclusionary clauses on these types of RV extended warranties include any damages caused by collisions, weather, or poor maintenance, as well as certain physical components such as your RV’s paint job or indoor carpeting.

Listed Component RV Extended Warranties

Listed component RV extended warranties work in exactly the opposite way exclusionary RV extended warranties do: rather than a list of what’s NOT covered, you’ll get a list of what IS. Any repair or maintenance issues that fall outside of that list will not be covered under the warranty, and you’ll need to pay for them out of pocket or through qualifying insurance coverage. (More on insurance in just a minute!)

Listed component RV extended warranties are also sometimes called “comprehensive policies,” though you should understand that the coverage is not entirely comprehensive in that some things fall outside of the terms! However, the list of items that are covered is fairly extensive, usually including mechanical components like your engine and powertrain as well as appliances, HVAC systems, slide-outs, leveling systems, and more. They’re also considerably more affordable than exclusionary warranties, which makes them attractive to many RVers looking for as much peace of mind as possible on a budget. But once again: not all eventualities are covered by your listed component RV extended warranty, and if you undergo a mechanical failure that’s not on the list, you’ll need to find another way to pay for the repair.

Powertrain-Only RV Extended Warranties

Powertrain-only RV extended warranties cover, as their name implies, only your powertrain — that is, your engine, transmission, and drive axle. Because the coverage is fairly limited, these policies do tend to be on the more affordable side… but the coverage they do offer would usually be a high-cost repair without the warranty, which make them a valuable and attractive option.

For instance, the diesel engine alone in a Class A motorhome could cost as much as $30,000 to replace. Purchasing a limited extended warranty like this could save you a heap of dough if something catastrophic happened, though there are still a lot of other repairs (such as those to appliances and other mechanical components) that could cost you if they happened and would not be covered under this kind of RV extended warranty.

What Does an RV Extended Warranty NOT Cover?

As you can see, the coverage of an RV extended warranty depends on what type of warranty it is — and the same is true of exclusions. The best way to fully understand what is covered and not covered by your RV extended warranty is to actually sit and read the fine print… ideally before you sign the paperwork.

However, there are some important coverages that almost never fall under the purview of an RV extended warranty, including damages from collisions or liabilities you may owe if you injure yourself or others in an accident. Those kinds of expenses are best met with a high-quality RV insurance policy — which is exactly why such policies are legal requirements in many U.S. states.

RV insurance is also more likely to pay for damages due to weather and other physical causes of damage (as opposed to mechanical failure, which is what warranties are focused on). Thus, they can be considered inverses of each other, and are most effective when purchased together.

The specifics of what kind of RV insurance coverage you need will depend on your state’s requirements, as well as requirements by your financer if you’re not purchasing the rig outright. Many automobile insurers also offer RV insurance, and you may be able to benefit from a reduced rate by bundling your services.

Insurers offer wide range of different types of coverages, including extras which may not be required by the state (but might still be a good idea). For instance, although most states will require you to have comprehensive, collision, and liability coverage, you may not have to buy a policy to protect yourself against uninsured motorists or medical payments… but both might come in handy if you’re in a bad accident and you need them.

Your insurance provider might also offer roadside assistance, total loss replacement, replacement costs on personal effects, vacation liability, and policies specifically for full-timers, which are definitely worth looking into if you’re planning on living in your rig. These can cover you up to a specific limit for injuries you’re liable for in and around your RV.

RV Extended Warranty Pros & Cons

So, by now, we understand the difference between an RV extended warranty and RV insurance, and we’ve got a decent idea of what different types of RV extended warranties there are.

But the question remains: should you or should you not buy it?

The only person who’s going to be able to answer that question well is you — with input, of course, from your significant other or family. But here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding whether or not an RV extended warranty is a good decision for you.

Pros of RV Extended Warranties

  • These policies offer additional peace of mind and may cover expensive repairs due to mechanical failures, which would otherwise lead to excruciatingly high costs.
  • Compared to replacing, say, your engine or transmission, even a high-end extended warranty is pretty affordable.
  • RV extended warranties come in a wide variety of types and levels, so you have a decent chance of finding a product that meets your coverage needs while also falling into your budget.

Cons of RV Extended Warranties

  • RV extended warranties are generally only available from dealerships, as well as a select number of online vendors. It can be difficult to get an extended RV warranty on a used rig or one purchased on the private market.
  • Although RV extended warranties cover a wide range of mechanical failures, they don’t offer any coverage for damage due to accidents, weather, and other physical impacts. That’s one reason why it’s important to add insurance to your total RV protection package, even if you choose to purchase a warranty.
  • RV extended warranties can be pricy, and if your claim falls outside of the purview of your policy’s terms, you might be denied.

Buying an RV Extended Warranty: What to Look For

If you decide an RV extended warranty is right for you, it’s worthwhile to shop around and not just go with the first product that’s offered to you. You want to be sure you fully understand what is covered, so you don’t get stuck with a failure that you’ll have to pay for yourself… on top of paying for the policy.

  • Price — chances are, price is going to be important to you in any product you buy, including an RV extended warranty. Of course, the better the coverage, the more the policy is going to cost. That said, prices can vary wildly between vendors, so if you have the opportunity to choose between what’s on offer at the dealership and something you can get online, do the comparison shopping ahead of time!
  • Coverage — as we’ve mentioned, different policies offer very different ranges of coverage. You’ll have to strike a balance between price and coverage, searching for a policy that offers a maximal amount of coverages for the lowest possible (fair) price.
  • Type — the price and coverage levels will be affected by which of the types of RV extended warranties listed above you opt for. For instance, a powertrain-only policy may have a relatively low price, but will only cover your engine, transmission, and drive axle. On the other hand, an exclusionary policy may have very few exclusions but could cost a lot.
  • Specific exclusions — if there’s something specific you’re worried about encountering a problem with, be sure to find a policy that doesn’t exclude that item.
  • Reviews — don’t underestimate the power of user reviews! If you’re not sure whether or not an RV extended warranty is a good idea, look up the vendor online and see what others’ experience with the company has been. RV extended warranty reviews could alert you to issues in getting claims paid out, customer service latencies, and other issues that will matter in the long term.

Getting the Most Out of Your Extended Warranty

Once you’ve purchased an RV extended warranty, be sure you actually get your money’s worth! It’s so easy to just throw all your new-vehicle paperwork into a file folder and forget about it… but you paid for that policy for a reason.

Refamiliarize yourself with all of the coverages you’re eligible for, so if something does go awry, you can call and make good on the warranty’s promise. Also learn the process for getting in touch with the warranty company and filing a claim; is there a specific phone number you need? What kind of documentation and proof will you have to provide? Knowing all this ahead of time is a great way to reduce stress when something does actually malfunction.

Best RV Extended Warranty 2020

In our opinion, the best RV extended warranty is one that offers you peace of mind without totally overturning your budget. It’s a hard line to walk, figuring out how to protect your investment without spending useless money on a policy that won’t work.

However, by being familiar with the different levels of RV extended warranties available, knowing the specifics of the policy you choose, reading other user reviews, and knowing how to actually implement your warranty if something should go wrong, your RV extended warranty can be a great investment into ensuring that your rig is in good, working order for many vacations to come.

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