Troubleshooter: Extended Car Warranties

January 26, 2009 3:12:15 PM PST
Many people invest in extended warranties for their vehicles once their manufacturer's warranty runs out. Nola Britton signed up for an extended car warranty after calling US Fidelis. She thought that if something major happened to her vehicle she'd be protected, but she learned that's not always the case.

A little over a month after signing with US Fidelis, Nola’s SUV had problems.

“Initially the mechanic diagnosed it being a head gasket and they denied it saying gaskets and seals aren't covered,” she told Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.

Nola took it a step further and allowed the dealership's repair shop to tear down the part to determine what caused the failure to see if it would be covered under her warranty.

The mechanic discovered the gasket was fine. Instead, it was a cracked head. The mechanic called the warranty company to get approval but Nola says he ran into more problems.

“Then they gave him a new set of things they wanted him to prove that caused the damage,” she said.

The mechanic told Troubleshooter Diane Wilson he did what the warranty company told him to do, yet the warranty company denied covering the repair for a third time, leaving Nola with a $3,100 repair bill.

“We thought buying this policy was basically an insurance policy so if something would happen catastrophic we wouldn't have to worry about it,” Nola told Wilson.

When Wilson talked to the mechanic, he said he thought the repair would be covered. But when she called US Fidelis, the company that sold Nola the extended warranty, she learned they just sell the policies for several warranty companies.

The representative said Nola's repair was looked at three times by an inspector for the warranty company and determined it's not a covered part. But in an effort to help Nola, US Fidelis, not the warranty company, paid the entire $3,100. It was a call Nola's thankful for.

“They say they're a family owned faith business and they're doing this at the kindness out of their heart because of what we have been through,” said Nola.

The representative with US Fidelis, despite not being responsible for paying the claims, said they wanted to make sure Nola started the year off right, that's why they decided the pay for the repair.

If you're considering an extended warranty, it's key to not agree to anything before you get your hands on the actual warranty. In this case, Nola signed up for it over the phone and never actually saw what was or wasn't covered until she got the paperwork in the mail weeks later. Also, it's a good idea to take the paperwork to your mechanic to see if the warranty would actually be beneficial to you.


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