by Mike Jones, President and CEO

Who loves taking their car in to be serviced? I’m guessing that’s a “no” from most of you. But, regular maintenance on your car is critical to its overall performance and longevity. It’s even more important if you currently have or decide to buy an extended car warranty or vehicle protection plan.

But doesn’t an extended vehicle warranty or vehicle protection plan pay for repairs on your vehicle when something goes wrong? Well, yes, per the terms of the contract. The coverage does not extend to mechanical or electrical issues that are due to lack of maintenance or neglect. If that’s the case, your claim will likely be denied. If you have an extended coverage plan or plan to buy one, you need to be familiar with your obligations as defined in the contract. You can avoid having a claim denied by carefully reading the sections in your contract that describe your vehicle owner responsibilities, what to do in the event of a breakdown, or how to file a claim. The titles of these sections may vary from contract to contract, but they will be clearly labeled.

What are Your Vehicle Owner Responsibilities?

Although your vehicle owner responsibilities may change based on your extended coverage contract and your vehicle’s owner’s manual, there are several key points regarding the maintenance and repair of your vehicle. We’ve outlined them below. They’ll help you understand your responsibilities as an owner under an extended vehicle warranty or vehicle protection plan. However, please be sure to refer to your contract and your vehicle owner’s manual to determine specific requirements for your situation.

Maintenance

Do NOT skip a scheduled service! This should be quite obvious, but how often do you check your vehicle owner’s manual to see what service is due at what time? Each car and contract have specific guidelines for when maintenance items need to be performed. Oil changes and other fluid changes are an especially important part of scheduled maintenance as running out of or low on oil or fluids can cause severe mechanical or engine failure. Following manufacturer’s recommendations for oil and fluid changes can greatly improve the performance and longevity of your vehicle. Please note that both oil and fluid changes should be done according to the required time and mileage intervals. Neither limit must be exceeded, or it may result in the denial of a claim.

Continued Operation of the Vehicle

Once your car breaks down or you realize there is a mechanical issue, you must take immediate action. If you cause further damage to your vehicle after a breakdown or mechanical/electrical issue occurs, your claim will almost certainly be denied. For the protection of your vehicle (and bank account!), it is vital to use all reasonable means to protect your vehicle from further damage. This might mean you need to call roadside assistance and/or have your vehicle towed. Certain issues – like a blown or flat tire, vehicle stalling, etc., give you no choice but to pull over and figure out how to get the vehicle to a mechanic. Something like a check engine light indicating overheating, however, might not be quite as cut and dry. It’s important in this situation not to take chances. Pull over at the first available safe area and arrange for a tow truck. Continuing to operate your vehicle could cause catastrophic damage. Further, your claim will certainly be denied. It is better to err on the side of caution when deciding if you can continue driving your vehicle or if you should have it towed. Towing is included in many vehicle protection plans, so use it!

Records

Saving all of your maintenance records, repair orders, invoices, etc., is very important for many reasons, especially for extended car warranties or vehicle protection plans. These records could be the difference in having your claim paid or denied in the case of a major repair.

Modifications

Modifying your vehicle can be fun. But if you want to make sure you get the extended protection coverage you paid for, keep your vehicle stock during the term of your contract. Custom equipment, oversized tires, exhaust modifications, performance tuning and such can be the cause of claim denial or worse, they could void your contract.

Breakdowns

When something goes wrong in your vehicle – any unusual noise, oil leak, check engine light, equipment malfunction, etc. – immediately take the vehicle, or have it towed, to the repair facility of your choice. Do not delay. Be sure to provide your contract booklet to the service advisor and ask them to call the claim into the claims number in the booklet before any repair work is performed. Do not remove your vehicle from the repair facility (without the Administrator’s permission) until the repairs are complete. Many vehicle protection plans include vehicle rental assistance, so take advantage of it.

Repair Authorization

Check the details of your extended protection contract, but it is safe to assume that you should not authorize any repairs until the service advisor has filed a claim with the administrator of your plan and has received authorization to proceed with the requested repairs.

Have a Question? autopom! Can Help

Do you have questions about your vehicle protection plan with autopom! and what  your owner responsibilities are? We would be happy to answer them for you so please call, email, or text us today. If you don’t have an extended auto warranty or vehicle protection plan yet but are interested in learning more, our agents here at autopom! are more than happy to help. If you decide you’d like a quote, we will ask several questions to learn more about your unique situation. Then, we’ll provide you with one or more quotes from administrators/providers that we represent to give you the best options. Our agents are ready to help you find the plan best suited for your vehicle and your budget.