For most, an RV is the second biggest purchase they will ever make, next to their sticks and bricks house. So having a warranty to cover major repairs is an important consideration when purchasing an RV. But what happens when the manufacturer’s warranty runs out, or, worse yet, as happened to one major RV manufacturer this year, the company suddenly goes bankrupt and shuts down. What then?
In this week’s podcast, we’ll talk about purchasing an extended warranty for your RV to provide peace of mind and Independent coverage regardless of when the manufacturer’s warranty or the warranties on major appliances expires. We’ll talk about how much an extended warranty costs, what it covers, what it doesn’t and whether it makes sense for you. That’s coming up in our interview of the week.
But also this week, RV news of the week, lots of listener questions and a fascinating off the beaten path report from the Burketts.
But first, my lifelong traveling companion and my bride… Jennifer.
Show Notes for Episode #241 May 8,2019 of The RV Podcast:
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
We are very excited to announce the release of the latest in our Seven Day Adventure Guides for RVers… this one for Colorado. We know many of you are planning your summer travels and we wanted to get this one out to provide a handy resource for RVing across one of the most spectacular places on earth. You can learn more about this special ebook and be among the first to get it at https://rvlfestyle.com/colorado
Here’s a link to a promotional video we did about it – https://youtu.be/N3dZT3KtyLo
We’re getting ready to hit the road, heading this week to Holland, Michigan, where the community holds a huge festival every spring celebrating Tulip Time. There are parades, concerts, wooden shoe dancing demonstrations and lots of cultural activities by the descendants of the Dutch immigrants who settled this Western Michigan town on the shores of Lake Michigan. But the main focus of the festival are the flowers. Holland boasts over 5 million tulips, all bursting forth in a dazzling display of color, pretty much peaking right now. Tulips are located in City parks, at public attractions, and along City streets. It’s quite the sight and we’ll be camping there Thursday through Sunday and, naturally, we’ll have a video. We can’t wait to head out.
Things change and may never be quite the same in some campgrounds. Let’s start Up North: With recreational marijuana use now legal throughout Canada, Parks Canada is working to get the word out this camping season that smoking marijuana is now perfectly fine at campsites. But smoking at beaches, trails and other common areas it is not. We have no comment. Now let’s go down south, to Florida. There, the state is now selling beer and wine in 32 of its 175 state parks in an attempt to raise more money to pay for the parks. “I think it’s a sign of the times,” said Don Philpott, secretary of the Wekiva Wilderness Trust and former executive director of the Florida State Parks Foundation. “We are not unique in Florida. I visit parks all over the country, and increasingly alcohol is being permitted.” Florida officials say rangers have recently been trained to spot tipsy visitors. Anyone caught drunk will be asked to leave the park. Again, we have no comment. We’re just reporting the news here.
Authorities are searching for the owner of an off leash dog which killed endangered seal in a California national seashore
People sometimes complain about strict laws that require dogs to always be on a leash in national and state parks and often limit the areas they can visit. Most pet owners are responsible. But there are those who are not and a case in point happened in California last week that demonstrated just why those restrictions are needed. Authorities say an off leash dog in California’s Point Reyes National Seashore killed a Guadalupe fur seal and now authorities are searching for the dog’s owner. The seal pup had come to shore when it was attacked and killed by the dog which illegally was running off leash.
Popular Alaska campground closed until mid-June to fix damage caused by last November’s earthquake
If you’re heading to Alaska this summer, the popular Eagle River Campground near Anchorage is closed after the thaw revealed serious road damage from last fall’s 7.1 earthquake. At the time, the road was snow covered. But as they were getting it ready for the spring camping season and the snow melted, they spotted major cracks in a road caused safety concerns and the campground is now expected to open by mid-June. It’s one of Alaska’s most popular campgrounds and lots of folks are having to find other places to go, especially as the Memorial Day long weekend approaches.
You have to love this story. A Tennessee couple vacationing in the Great Smoky Mountains last week was shocked to find a bear relaxing in their hot tub. It was a bear cub and he was visiting the deck of their cabin with his Mom and a brother cub. The three were sniffing around the deck, came upon the hot tub and one of the cubs hopped into the bubbling hot tub and even closed its eyes in relaxation. After a minute or two, he climbed out and the three bears went on their merry way. The photos the couple took went viral. Click the headline above to see them.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping
LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
My wife and I are in the process of looking at Class B and C Motor homes. We had considered Class A but it’s not in the budget! Kinda hard finding something that offers enough room for the 3 of us. Happy Trails 😀
- John and Rita Lacher, and our 4-year-old German Shepherd Dog, Duke, from Chico CA
I am sure my wife and I are a pretty common situation… our child is close to graduating college,… we are starting to think about retirement…We have been dreaming a long time, researching a long time… and thought we had settled on buying an Airstream and Tow Vehicle…But, then my wife found your review of the Leisure Van product… now you have us all messed up! 😊 Thinking maybe the B+ would be enough…I like not having to buy a truck to tow the trailer…. but, I love the look and feel of the Airstream Classic! Do you have any experience with people towing a “get around” vehicle with the Class B+…Is that even possible? With the travel trailer option… I like the idea of setting up … and then being able to use the truck to get around. Can the B+ tow a small trailer… maybe something with some scooters… or a small vehicle… like one of those 3 wheeled things.
- Drew, Williamsport, PA
We have heard you talk about using Rover.com and Wag.com and services like that to find pet sitters for Bo when you travel. We were planning to do the same thing on our RV travels this summer but then we heard about the story from CBS News that reported on how there have been dogs dying and bad treatment by some of the pet sitters. Has this caused you to think again about using he service?
-Melanie, Smyrna, TN
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer, or a comment on the things we’re discussing? If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
Recreational vehicles are complex machines with many parts, and high repair costs can be an unfortunate twist in your RV journey. An RV Extended Warranty can help to erase those undesirable, and unexpected costs. The truth is, RV’s have a very high chance of breakdown, as you’ll learn in this interview, and there’s no more stressful situation than having your vacation or road trip interrupted by mechanical repairs.
Our guest this week is Staci Ritchie-Roman of Wholesale Warranties, a San Diego based company that works as a broker to find the right extended warranty coverage for your RV, from the right company… for the right length of time. There’s no one size for all when it comes to selecting an extended warranty and Staci joins us now to help us learn more about just what’s involved with an extended warranty.
To get a special quote on what an extended warranty would cost you and what it would cover and for how long, go to https://rvlifestyle.com/warranty
Here’s a transcript of our interview with Staci:
Mike: Well to find out just what is involved in getting an extended warranty and who it’s for, we’re joined now by Staci Ritchie Roman. She’s with Wholesale Warranties and Staci, thank you for making some time for us on the podcast this week.
Staci: Absolutely. We’re super excited to be here and I appreciate you having me on.
Mike: As I mentioned in the intro, there’s a lot of people now wondering about warranty and coverage and let’s start broad here. Different manufacturers have different warranties on their products. Different years, some for just a year or two, some for longer periods of time. Where do you guys with an extended warranty, where do you fit in in terms of the RV consumer? When should they be considering an extended warranty?
Staci: There’s a lot of different ways to look at it. Our products are available to motor homes that are 20 model years old and newer or towable RVs that 15 model years old and newer. You have from the day that you buy it brand new until it’s 20 model years to pick up an extended warranty. There are definitely some positives to looking into it sooner.
Staci: Like you mentioned, the manufacturers typically will have a one or two policy on the coach and those are great but they don’t cover absolutely everything. They have some of the bells and whistles that an extended warranty has and so a lot of customers find that when they come to get a quote, they’re getting the best possible price when they still have that manufacturer policy and they’re getting little extra coverage.
Staci: We actually recommend looking into the policy as soon as you have a brand new coach if you are purchasing a brand new one because that manufacturer policy, the extended warranty company, they know that that’s in place and so they’re going to give you the best possible price because they know for the first year, maybe two years, they’re not really going to have to pay for anything. You’re going to get a longer coverage at a better price if you pick it up right away than if you come back to us in a couple years when the manufacturer policy’s run out.
Staci: That being said, we do have those wide eligibilities so you can come to us at any point during your RV journey and we’ll probably have an extended warranty for you. The older the unit, the more well traveled, you’ll also find that you’re having more breakdowns at that point too so the extended warranty has a lot of value throughout the life of the policy.
Mike: Let me go back to something you said earlier about you have some of the bells and whistles I think was your phrase that you might not find on a manufacturer’s warranty. Give me an idea of what those would be.
Staci: Sure. That stuff like trip interruption benefits. If you have a breakdown that requires your unit to stay at the repair facility overnight, we’ll pick up some of your meals and lodging for you. There’s also rental car reimbursements. If your refrigerator goes out, some of our policies will pay to replace some of the food that went spoiled. There’s a lot of these little added benefits and features that our extended warranty has that a manufacturer policy won’t.
Mike: Now some of the things you said made me think that you guys probably have a lot of data over the years. You’ve been in business a long time. About when RVs break down, when they have problems. What are the odds and for what year of ownership, what are the odds that there’s going to be something significant that a warranty, extended warranty would really help? How frequent do these breakdowns happen and when in the ownership process for the consumer?
Staci: Sure. It happens a lot more often and a lot quicker than you might think. With all of our statistics over the years, we’ve kind of broken it down into these three percentages. 30% of RVs have a major breakdown by their second year on the road. Usually when your manufacturer warranty is up and that’s when you’re going to hit your pricey breakdown.
Staci: Now by your fifth year on the road, that jumps to 80% of RVs. That’s a really significant jump by the fifth year. And then by their eighth year in service, it’s pretty much a 100%, just below. Nearly every RV’s going to suffer some sort of major failure to a mechanical or electrical component by their eighth year on the road.
Mike: Give me an idea what is a major failure. Say I’m two years in, what would be a major failure that 30% of us are going to have?
Staci: Sure. A major mechanical failure is going to be items like your roof air conditioning, your refrigerator, slide outs and leveling jacks which are usually around a $2,000 claim, the lower end. We see some engine and transmission stuff right away and a lot of electrical failures. That’s a really common failure for most RVs and we see those pretty quickly.
Mike: Now those are pretty costly expenses which then makes me wonder what’s the general cost of an extended warranty? And I know it depends on whether it’s an RV, a motor home or whether it’s a towable or fifth wheel. Give us a range of what an extended warranty, let’s say we start with a new coverage. What are some of the, and I know your products vary differently for how many years and stuff but give us an idea of what we would consider in terms of somebody thinking, yeah, maybe this is for me.
Staci: Sure. It’s really tough to nail down an actual price range for the reasons that you mentioned. We do service every class of RV and then the towables, fifth wheels and travel trailers, toy haulers. When we’re going into it, what we’re going to look at when we’re pricing is going to be that class. It’s going to be the year, make, model and as I mentioned earlier, the newer the RV usually the better price you’re going to get especially if you have overlapping manufacturer coverage. Mileage is going to be a big key player and then the value of the unit as well.
Staci: It’s tough to give a range. Usually our towables are going to be $3,000 and less but constantly changing and then for a motor home it’s going to up from there and we do service everything from class Bs to some of the very high end half a million dollar RVs. That pricing gets pretty crazy. I don’t want to nail down any numbers there. But the things that you are going to look at is the class, year, make, model, mileage and then the value or purchase price of the unit.
Mike: You mentioned 3,000 just to use it, is that an annual cost or is that a one time purchase for, and typically how many years does somebody buy at that?
Staci: That’s a great question. We don’t do yearly policies because the value just isn’t there. We like to lock our customers into anywhere between two and seven years at a time. If it’s brand new, you’re going to get that up to seven years. That’s for the newer ones. It usually pares back from there. But we do find that the longer term you lock in, the better the value is going to be. And once you put that down, once you pay that one time fee, you are locked into that policy and no matter how many claims you make, we can’t change that policy cost on you. It is a really good idea to lock in those longer term coverages when they’re available.
Mike: I just bought a new RV a month and a half ago so this is a good time for me to look at that then I think. Is that what I’m hearing?
Staci: Yes, absolutely. You’re going to get a better price today than any other time while you own that RV. Yeah, that’s a good time.
Mike: And I know you make it very easy. We will put a link in the show notes but it’s and we made an easy one for you. It’s just rvlifestyle.com/warranty and that takes us directly to a page at Wholesale Warranties where we can fill in the information and you have trained specialists who then will give us the best rate. I’ll put that link in the show notes. I know a lot of people are listening to us Staci as they’re driving, some are walking and exercising or in health club but it’s hard for them to write down so we always tell them it’s in the show notes for this episode.
Mike: What does and what does not an extended warranty cover?
Staci: Sure. We always like to start with what it’s never going to cover. It’s never going to cover maintenance items or aesthetic items. Light bulbs and glass, furniture, those types of things will never be covered. Also anything that’s covered by your comp and collision insurance, accidents and physical damage as well as anything caused by weather or acts of God, all of that terminology.
Staci: Now what it is going to cover is pretty much every electrical working component on the RV. That ranges from your engine and transmission down to all of your coach components. Your heating and cooling, your slide outs, leveling systems, it’s going to cover refrigerators and microwaves and television sets. Pretty much anything that serves a mechanical function in your unit, you can plan on that being covered. Especially when you go with our higher level of coverage.
Staci: Now we do have different options, not everybody has the same desired level of risk. Some people are super mechanical and can fix most things so they just choose to cover say their engine and transmission. Other people don’t want to worry about anything and so that’s going to be one of those higher end policies that’s going to cover anything mechanical.
Mike: So many of our RVs now have this advanced technology, lithium batteries which are very expensive, solar systems, solar controllers. Does the extended warranties cover that?
Staci: Batteries are definitely going to be something that isn’t covered but on the solar systems, yes. Our highest level of coverage is called the exclusionary policy. That’s a little bit of a scary name. It sounds like it’s not going to cover a lot. It’s actually the highest level of coverage. Tells you exactly what it’s going to exclude and if it’s not on that list, it is covered. That is the best policy for somebody that has a really new, high tech vehicle that has those added benefits. It’s going to cover a wide array of those added mechanical components in addition to the standard stuff that comes on most RVs.
Mike: Many RVs, the refrigerator, the microwave and many of the systems and the appliances in an RV come with warranties from the manufacturer. Typically much less than the motor home manufacturer but how does an extended warranty work with those? Do you kind of divide it up? Or does it pay after if my refrigerator’s covered and it breaks, do I first go to the refrigerator manufacturer and then if it’s expired or they don’t cover it then I come to you guys? Is that generally how that would work?
Staci: Generally yeah. If you still do have manufacturer coverage of some kind or you replace a refrigerator and you do have a warranty on it, you’ll want to go back to that first. If you do call in to your extended warranty, they’ll just double check your VIN and a few items on there and to make sure that it is or isn’t covered by the manufacturer. If it still is, they’ll just direct you that way. If not, we’ll go ahead and pick it up. It can be tough to keep an eye on all of those things. We do our best with the information that we have to double check that for you and help put you in the right direction.
Staci: Usually on most coaches we find that it’s really just that first year where almost everything’s going to be covered by the manufacturer and then after that you’ll start coming to the extended policy.
Mike: I like what you just said, it takes the burden off the consumer. He doesn’t have to go pull out all of his papers and see who he goes to. He can call you guys up and you then will be able to help them direct it. Well go back to the refrigerator manufacturer or that’s no longer covered, now it’s one of ours. That’s a relief.
Mike: When a claim is made, how is that done? Do you pay the repair facility directly or does the customer have to pay and be reimbursed? What’s generally the procedure there?
Staci: The procedure with claims is we always, we work with warranty companies that are going to make that as easy as possible on the consumer. What that means is the consumer doesn’t actually have to make any phone calls. They’re going to provide their extended warranty information to the repair facility or mobile mechanic because we do allow for mobile mechanics. They’re going to say, “Hey I have this policy. Make sure you call in.” That repair facility is going to do a diagnosis but not start any actual repairs until they call into the warranty company and provide an estimate.
Staci: That step right there is the most important part. When they call in with the diagnosis and the estimate and then they get a pre-authorization number from the warranty. I call that the golden rule of extended warranties. Once that process takes place and 90% of claims are actually handled on that very first phone call so it’s very quick, the mechanic can go ahead and complete the work and they’re going to be paid directly over the phone by a corporate credit card from the warranty company. No need for reimbursement, no need for tracking all of that as the customer. Really you should just be able to provide your warranty phone number and information to the mechanic and kind of wash your hands until you’re paying your deductible later on.
Mike: That’s a big comfort. Last question, what happens if the manufacturer, be it of the RV or be it of the appliance, what happens if they go out of business and then you have a claim?
Staci: Sure. If you have an extended warranty and the manufacturer’s gone out of business and we saw this a lot when we were first kind of getting into the business during the financial crisis. The extended warranties will pick up most of that and so that’s going to be one of those situations where you call in and if you already have that extended warranty or you want to get one, they’ll do a double check on the manufacturer, make sure there’s no coverage out there for you and then they’ll step in to pay for that.
Staci: If there’s a large scale manufacturer that goes out of business, sometimes that’s something that we take into account at the time of quoting and we’re aware that we keep a good eye on that so we’re offering policies that we know will be there for you in the event that that takes place.
Mike: Well it couldn’t be any easier to get a quick check of what you have covered, what you need to get covered by just going to that link that we just put you up with audience and that’s rvlifestyle.com warranty, slash warranty. Rvlifestyle.com/warranty and it will take you to Wholesale Warranties. Their website and there a form there and Staci, last question, what happens after they fill out that form?
Staci: Sure. They’re going to be contacted by one of our RV warranty specialists and we’re going to work with the companies as a broker to find what is the right fit for that customer, their RV and their desired level of risk and we’re very focused on education. We want every customer that purchases from us to know exactly what they’re buying, what is covered, what isn’t covered. And so you’re going to work one on one with an RV warranty specialist there who’s going to educate you on our policies and help find the right fit and it’s a free quote, no strings attached. It never hurts to see what your options are.
Mike: Never hurts. We will again link to that. Peace of mind for what I think is usually the second most expensive purchase a consumer will ever make, a recreational vehicle. Staci Ritchie Roman has been our guest from Wholesale Warranties. Staci, thank you so much for such valuable information. We really appreciate it.
Staci: Thank you.
The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country
OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT
By Tom & Patty Burkett
We took the advice of some bikers we met in a bar in Montana and drove south from Jasper Alberta on Canada’s Route 93. It took us through the Kootenay Brown National Park which had recently been hit by a large wildfire. Evidence of the fire was everywhere, including scorched asphalt where the fire had clearly burned right across the road, charring the landscape on both sides. There was plenty of beauty to see, too. Steep mountains covered with trees casting long shadows in the early evening light, and the flash of fish in the river running alongside the road.
This corridor, extending from Canada to Mexico, is known for the hot springs that pop up along the fault that creates the mountains. From Gila hot springs in New Mexico to Steamboat Springs in Colorado to White Sulphur Springs in Montana, you can find historic health resorts and secluded stargazing spots at the end of a long trail. We were heading for one of the more developed locations in Canada—Radium Hot Springs. As we rounded a bend approaching the resort, we were surprised by a herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. We just sat and watched as they clacked their way across the road in front of us.
Dusk was on us, and we pulled into the Redstreak Campground just in time to get camp set up before dark. The stars were brilliant here along the mountains and far from any major population center. The springs opened early, and being early risers we were about the first ones there. The first thing I noticed was a big RV clearly set up for the night in the parking lot. Despite the ‘no overnight parking’ signs, we kicked ourselves for the $35 we’d spent on a campsite.
The springs are nestled in a craggy mountainside, and we took a pedestrian tunnel below the road to the entrance. The tunnel opened to a large plaza with benches, trees, and, across the the way, a long low stone building that was the entrance. Standing at a fence on the edge of the plaza, one looks down on the springs one level below. We were surprised to see a very modern Olympic size swimming pool, steam rising from the surface.
The oral history of the Ktunaxa (pronounced toon-ah-ha) people tells of the restorative powers of the springs, which have been used as far back as tribal stories go. The first European settlers appeared here in the 1880s, and a few years later Roland Stuart began to bottle the water as a curative. Promotion ratcheted up when it was confirmed that the waters contained radium, which was considered quite healthful at the time. In 1922, the Canadian government expropriated the springs.
We noted that the complex in the poolhouse included a café and a spa offering a variety of rejuvenating treatments, then changed in the expansive locker rooms and made our way to the water. It was a refreshing one hundred and two degrees Fahrenheit. Patti had enough much sooner than I, but we had time for a nice conversation with a woman visiting from Ontario. She visits every year, and was as surprised as we that hardly anyone was in the water with us.
As we drove away, I reminded Tom of one of his best travel moments. We were camping in a popup trailer with the kids somewhere near Grand Teton National Park. Everyone was tired, but he was determined to get in a soak at a nearby hot springs hotel. He took the car, leaving me with the three girls at the campsite to make dinner. Unbeknownst to me, he returned to the car to discover he’d locked his keys and phone inside. After waiting more than an hour for a locksmith, he finally dragged himself back to the campsite well after dark. Despite the surprisingly good electric skillet calzones, everyone was in a bad mood. That memory notwithstanding, we still enjoy a dip when hot springs are nearby, as they often are when you’re traveling off the beaten path.
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