In this post, we’ll try to explain how to get the most out of your extended warranty. By that we mean, how to use it most effectively and get claims paid without frustration. Stress comes from having expectations too high and those expectations not being met. So, it’s important to make sure owners of extended warranties have a realistic expectation of what should happen when a claim is filed.
Understand your contract
Yes, the contract is a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo, but it is important that you understand it. Have someone familiar with warranty contracts review it for you if possible. If that’s not possible or too expensive, read over it slowly until you understand it or jot down questions you need answered. Ask the person that is selling you the warranty about provisions you don’t understand. Of course, you need to have trust in that individual due to the obvious conflict of interest. Again, the contracts can be complicated, so no one will know every answer to every question, but the good Contract Providers will find the answer for you if they don’t know.
With all of the above said, don’t be intimidated by the contract. For the most part, repair facilities know what is and isn’t covered and Administrators don’t go out of their way to deny claims as long as their suspicions aren’t raised.
The Administrators have to be on the alert for fraud and misrepresentation so they aren’t paying out illegitimate claims at the expense of the honest customers and repair facilities. Yes, the Administrators do sometimes deny claims that certainly aren’t fraud or misrepresentation and seem like they should have been approved, but that is the exception rather than the rule, although many incorrectly believe it is the other way around.
Understand what is NOT covered
This is where the most confusion and frustration occurs. When you read a contract, it looks like a lot is not covered, but in an exclusionary contract, at least it’s all listed out. Many of the excluded items are common sense (must have a VIN, odometer, ECM must be working, items covered by manufacturers warranty or by collision/comprehensive insurance are not covered, etc.).
In some cases, you can add optional coverage for items you are concerned about that are specifically not covered in the base contract.
Health insurance companies these days are paying for preventative care in order to keep future, larger claims down. But that’s not the case for warranty companies – if it ain’t broke, there’s no coverage. They don’t pay for preventative actions that might save them money later.
Be aware of the “Consequential Damage” clauses. Many extended warranties exclude “repairs of covered parts caused by failure of non-covered parts” and “repairs of non-covered parts caused by failure of covered parts”. These are “Consequential Damage” clauses. These clauses can cause denials of large claims, so it might be wise to look at optional “Consequential Damage” coverage if it is available.
If you aren’t sure whether something should be covered and it is a concern, ask before you buy.
Perform routine, manufacturer-recommended, scheduled maintenance
A service center can do this or you can do it yourself, but make sure you maintain records and receipts. Proper maintenance is actually a requirement of most extended warranty contracts and failure to perform the maintenance could result in claim denial. If you haven’t kept records of your service and maintenance before the warranty purchase, definitely keep them afterwards
Make sure your repair facility gets pre-authorization BEFORE doing any repairs
Pre-authorization is a vital part of the service contract and it is YOUR responsibility to make sure your repair facility gets that authorization.
It’s very important to work with repair facilities that have good warranty departments or personnel that are used to completing the proper procedures for warranty coverage. A good warranty person in a repair facility can make things go very smoothly and reduce the possibility of claims denial. He or she may be the most important person in the whole repair claims process.
Note: Sometimes larger repair facilities can be better for warranty services simply because they have dedicated, experienced warranty personnel.
Still, make sure you know that they get pre-authorization, and be sure you understand what your charges (beyond the deductible) will be if the repair facility doesn’t get approval for everything they submitted to the warranty Administrator.
In some cases, the repair facility may accept what the warranty Administrator authorizes and waive the additional costs as it relates to the covered repairs. In some cases, the repair facility may charge you for the difference. Know where you stand before authorizing the repair facility to go forward.
Before we leave this section, let’s discuss emergencies. Most extended service contracts have an exception to the “Pre-authorization rule” for emergency repairs. But coverage for emergency repairs is very specific, as are the procedures for getting reimbursed. So be sure you understand the emergency repairs provisions.
The warranty Administrator will pay what is necessary to complete a covered repair, but usually not for upgrades
Your repair facility may want to use upgraded parts or you may want to have upgraded parts. In certain circumstances, the warranty Administrator may cover the upgrade if there is a good, well-documented reason.
However, don’t expect that kind of approval, and remember you always have the option of paying the difference for the upgrades.
Let the warranty Administrator inspect your Truck
If the warranty Administrator wants to have your Truck inspected to verify the condition of the Truck and determine if there are any pre-existing conditions, let them inspect. If an independent inspector chosen by the Administrator doesn’t document pre-existing conditions, there is less chance of a claims denial on that basis. Also, sometimes the inspectors might bring your attention to a problem you were unaware of.
Try not make claims too soon after the contract purchase
Of course a breakdown or parts failure may happen right after the contract purchase. Just be aware that it will automatically be reviewed with extra scrutiny. It’s more likely an inspector will be sent out to make sure it wasn’t a pre-existing condition, and your documented maintenance and service records are even more important.