Car breakdowns are a huge downer, and can ruin an otherwise perfect road trip. However, if you’ve got an extended auto warranty, you may not have to worry at all. The word “may” in the previous sentence is doing some heavy lifting, though, because not all warranties are created equal and not all companies approve claims in the same way. If you’re looking for more information on what to do if your claim is denied, read on.
In general, car warranty claims operate almost exactly as you’d think they would. When you experience a mechanical problem or failure, you take the vehicle to an approved service center and the warranty handles the costs. However, depending on the type of warranty you have, what it covers, and the type of issue you’re having, you may not experience a smooth ride getting your repairs covered.
Warranty providers have strict parameters on what is and is not covered, and even stricter parameters around how the vehicle was treated and what caused the issue. If you skip maintenance or mistreat your vehicle, your claim may be denied. If the breakdown is caused by an uncovered component, you may see a denial. Finally, your warranty coverage may include some limitations on where your car is serviced, which means your claim may be denied if you take the car to an unapproved shop.
Automakers and warranty companies are in business to make money, which means that they are not jumping with joy to pay every claim that walks through their doors. As a result, there can sometimes be a breakdown in communication between the repair facility and warranty provider over what is and is not covered. When this happens, your claim may be denied, but don’t panic.
A claim denial is not the end of the road. Once you’ve received an official claim denial, you should ask for a copy of the decision in writing. You’ll need this information to share with your repair facility. Find out if the shop agrees with the denial decision, and if they do not, it’s a good idea to get their thoughts in writing as well.
Once you’ve gathered information from the shop and have a copy of the denial letter in hand, it’s time to start the appeals process. Call your warranty provider and ask about the steps you’ll need to take to appeal their decision. You’ll need to walk through your claims experience from start to finish, and describe the shop’s opinion.
To be completely honest, you may not have a chance at overturning the denial decision, but if you’re armed with the right information and handle the process in a detailed and timely manner, there’s a good chance your denial can be successfully appealed.
The most common reason warranty claims are denied is that whatever is broken is not covered. Every warranty comes with a list of what is, and is not covered, so it’s important that you understand what’s going on before filing a claim. Make sure to read your contract fully.
If there’s a suspicion that you raced the vehicle, abused it, or neglected it, you may have a warranty claim denied. Warranty providers want to see that you followed the manufacturer’s guidelines for things like oil changes and service visits as well, and you may not be able to get your claim approved if you’ve skipped out. Also if you used your vehicle for ride-sharing work, this might also void any warranty claims. Read your contract completely before engaging in this type of work, as it results in some serious wear and tear on your car.
Modifications are great, and can add power, style, and character to your vehicle. They are not, however, great for auto warranties. Your warranty may allow for some non-permanent modifications, but in most cases modifying your vehicle is a big no-no.
If your claim is denied and your best efforts at an appeal have been rebuffed, you may still have some options. Depending on where you live, your state may offer consumer protection services designed to assist in these situations. Read more on understanding warranty laws by state here. You may also be able to complain to a higher-up in the company by tracking down an email or contact for them, and complaining loudly on social media and review sites may attract some attention to your case.
At the end of the day, however, pursuing a warranty claim in court or through other legal avenues may not be worth it from a monetary standpoint. You’ll end up spending more on legal fees and court costs than the claim itself is worth if you lose.
To have the best chances at getting your claim approved, you should:
The old saying that “you get what you pay for” applies in the case of extended warranties, but cost-cutting should not be your primary approach to shopping for a warranty. While warranty providers may offer services that sound and look quite similar to each other, there may be slight variations in how they handle claims, where you can take your vehicle, and how often they approve claims. All of that said, the most important factor when shopping for a warranty is that you’re comfortable with the company, the warranty, and the claims process.
It’s best to dispute warranty claims in writing and to gather as much documentation from both your repair facility and the warranty company as possible.
Different companies may have different rules on the appeal/dispute process, but again, it’s best to handle the process in writing and to gather as much information as you can from the shop and the warranty provider.
You can sue a warranty company, but be advised that the process may be more expensive and complicated than it’s worth. However, in some cases, a certified letter from an attorney may be enough to get the wheels turning in your favor.
The best extended warranty and warranty company will depend on your needs and how you feel about the company and its services. Research the items that are covered and talk to someone at the company to understand how their claims process works. Yes, you may receive some spam calls as a result, but the pain is worth the payoff.
Timing will largely depend on where you live and on the consumer laws that have been implemented by your state. Your warranty company may also have policies on how long it takes to pay a claim, and on when certain actions are set to take place. Read more on extended warranty laws in our state-by-state guide.
You can void your auto warranty by ignroing maintenance requirements, racing or abusing your car, adding modifications and obviously, wrecking your car. You might also lose warranty coverage if the car has been stolen of damaged.
The best way to get a good price is to compare offers. These are some popular options...