Olive is a company which sells mechanical breakdown insurance coverage, which many often refer to as an “extended warranty.” Part of Repair Ventures, Olive also offers contracts under the name TriStar. We looked closely at Olive and found that it is a legitimate company with solid credentials in business for over a decade.
What we found was mostly quite good, but one aspect of Olive gave us pause. Based on what we see, Olive is a broker, not the actual provider or administrator of the products that it sells to you.
Olive offers three sets of plans. Each is denoted by a cocktail stirrer icon with one to three olives. Cute.
The plans are as follows:
When we researched what was and what was not covered, the thing that jumped out at us was that some very common, and very pricey repairs are not included in the basic plan called Powertrain. For example, alternator and starter motor replacements. Also scary is that your infotainment system won’t be covered by the middle plan either. We created this matrix to help highlight some of the very common repairs that are not covered by the two lower tier plans Olive offers. This is not the complete list of what is covered. The only way to know what is and what is not covered with any certainty is to read the plan you are presented for signature.
|Repair Example||Complete Care||Powertrain Plus||Powertrain|
In addition to helping you pay to fix your vehicle, Olive will reimburse you for up to $100 for towing. Here’s a sample contract from Olive. With wait times for AAA roadside assistance being reported as long as 8 hours, this may be a helpful part of your coverage.
It is nearly impossible to say which repair your vehicle might require, but many models do have common problems that owners report. You can find a report on your specific model at CarComplaints, and Consumer Reports also breaks down reliability in pretty fine detail by model and model year. If you are considering anything but the top-tier plan, figure out first if your car has a known common failure point. If it does, be sure you get the plan that covers that possible failure.
Take a look at our chart above and notice that the transmission control module is not covered by Powertrain or Powertrain Plus. We don’t know about you, but we’d hit the roof if we bought a policy called “Powertrain Plus” and it did not include coverage for a critical part of the powertrain. Our feeling is that if you're in for a penny you should be in for a pound. Get the top warranty unless you want to be paying monthly for a warranty that does not guarantee you will have coverage if your vehicle breaks down.
Like all plans of this type, Olive’s will vary based on a few factors. On its website, Olive says that the three main parameters are the vehicle itself, zip code, and mileage. Olive says in its online advertisements that the average plan it provides “Only costs $60 per month.” So for three years of coverage, a policyholder would pay around $2,160. That’s for the average. For the top-tier plan, figure more. How much more? Olive says that its plans range in price (on average) to as high as $80 per month.
The pricing examples for Olive’s products we found were higher than Olive’s general overview. Based on pricing we found, a three-year plan covering a premium vehicle could cost as much as $5,076. Here’s a breakdown of what we found as examples. Your prices may vary. Note how much the mileage and age of the vehicle impact your prices. Prices shown are per month.
|Vehicle Type||Complete Care||Powertrain Plus||Powertrain|
Each of the above plan price examples has a $100 deductible.
Olive’s plans are pay as you go. Only monthly payment plans are offered. The upside is you can pay monthly and cancel at any time. Olive will also offer to continue the coverage to a new owner if you sell your vehicle while your plan is still active.
Olive allows you to use any ASE-certified mechanic to repair your vehicle. If you don’t already know a good one, Repair Pal is partnering with Olive to be your resource for repairs.
Olive is primarily an online platform. You file your claim for repairs online, and if approved, you pay only your deductible. You can also phone for help, and if your mechanic and Olive work together as they should, you don’t have to pay up-front. Olive will pay the bill, less your deductible.
Olive offers policies to owners of cars with mileage up to 140,000 miles and ten years of age. The policies offered can run as long as 12 years and up to 185,000 miles. It is important to note that cars with pre-existing problems, whether you know about it or not, are not covered for those conditions.
The most common reason that claims submitted to any extended warranty company are refused is that the policyholder did not buy coverage for the needed repair. While that may seem like common sense, look at the many reviews online that say something like, “When my adaptive cruise control quit, I was left holding the bag for repairs!” Well, if you bought the El Cheapo plan that does not include coverage for that system, why would you expect it to help you? In a nutshell, the most common issue is that policy buyers opt for less than the top plan.
The second most common reason is that when the engine seizes because the car hadn’t had an oil change in years, the policyholder feels ripped off. However, all of these plans require both that you maintain the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s owner’s manual after you buy it, and also that it was maintained prior to you owning it. If you are the second or third owner and don’t have the maintenance records going back to when the vehicle was new, these policies are very risky. If your vehicle's original timing belt quits long after it was scheduled for replacement and your engine implodes, you are out of luck.
Last, there are things that are not going to be covered by such a policy. If a stone breaks your panoramic moonroof, that is not going to be covered. If you hit a curb and need a new CV joint, a new wheel, and a new tire, that is accident damage not covered by these types of plans.
We like to see positive reviews for the service contract companies Car Talk overviews. Olive checks that box. The company, listed under Repair Ventures, has a solid 4.6-star average on BBB and an impressive 4.6-star rating from Google Reviews. We dove into the most recent Google Reviews and found that they were almost all 4 or 5 stars.
One reviewer on Google wrote, “Service was great, payment to repair shop was prompt.” Another said, “Olive is the real deal and saved me $4,600 on a new transmission. How easy was it? I literally spoke to Olive 0 times. Yes, zero. I took my truck to an approved shop, gave them my Olive policy info, and 5 days later, I get a call that my truck is fixed (with an even better warranty on the transmission, btw, due to Olive’s insistence that the shop use factory parts) and I owe my chosen deductible. Without hesitation, I now recommend Olive to everybody. Thanks Olive!”
It was part of Olive/Repair Venture’s response to some BBB customer complaints and reviews by Olive that concerned us. Under the complaint, Olive wrote, “Olive sells mechanical breakdown insurance to consumers for their automobiles. Please note that Olive is not the coverage administrator of the mechanical breakdown insurance and does not therefore review, grant, or deny claims.” At least Olive took the time to respond. However, how does this help a consumer who gave Olive money to deal with car repair issues?
If you are working hard living paycheck to paycheck and don’t have the discipline to save enough for needed repairs, a policy from Olive may work for you. A policy from Olive can offer you both a way to handle high repair costs and also peace of mind.
If your vehicle is still under its new car warranty or powertrain warranty, step back and think before you agree to a purchase like this. What are you gaining? If you purchased a certified pre-owned vehicle it may also have a warranty. Don’t buy what you will not use in the short term. Wait until you need the coverage is our best advice.
If you are not familiar with vehicles and what major repairs cost let us scare you, excuse us, we mean educate you. Here is a list with ballpark costs to pay for some common repairs:
|Repair Type||Approximate Cost|
Read more about the Most Expensive Car Repairs here.
Olive is a legitimate company that has a solid BBB rating and many positive reviews. We found the pricing to be more competitive than other companies offering similar plans. The fact that Olive promises never to robocall you is a nice touch. Among all of the plans we have researched, Olive deserves a spot among the best.
Read our full recommendations on the Best Extended Warranties here.
Car Talk has spent the last year doing a deep dive into the warranties industry for the benefit of our readership and long-time listeners. Our process for deciding on the best warranty companies for the year was exceptionally thorough, involving in-depth research and our unique secret shopper initiative. We compiled over 50 data points across all reviewed companies to refine and inform our selection process. Car Talk reviewed the following important criteria for each company:
Consumer Satisfaction: Cross referencing multiple trusted resources to pull our fair and balanced customer reviews.
Cost: Utilizing our secret shopper initiative, we got comparable quotes across all companies so we can validly compare pricing.
Coverage and Offerings: Our research team delved into the coverage and offerings for each company, comparing what is available, including extras and discounts.
Official Ratings: We consulted a wide range of verified review sites to extrapolate a ratings score for each.
Yes, Olive is rated A+ by BBB and has many reviews on Google of 4 or 5 stars.
An Olive service contract can cost between a minimum of about $30 to a maximum of as much as $150 based on our research. Most policies have a cost of $60 per month according to Olive. The type and age of your vehicle, its mileage, and your zip code all impact what you pay for the various plans.
Olive covers vehicles up to 185,000 miles and 12 years of age.
Yes, you can pay monthly for an Olive car warranty. In fact, that is the only way to pay.
Olive will initiate a plan for a vehicle that has as many as 140,000 miles and is up to ten years of age.
Not everything, but all plans have a comprehensive plan. In the case of Olive, it’s called Complete Care.
You are unlikely to be able to obtain and use any warranty for any provider if you cannot show that the vehicle has been maintained. While you may be able to purchase a policy, if you then try to use it and the lack of documented maintenance may have had an influence on the failure, you are out of luck.
Most policies have a deductible. You may be able to pay more per month and have a lower or zero deductible.
No, maintenance is not included in such plans.
If you live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have the discipline to save for possible high cost repairs, a plan like Olive’s may be a help to you. Studies have found that most owners of extended warranties do not recoup the cost of the policy by paid-for repairs. But if you’re the person with the blown transmission, you will be very glad you are covered.
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