Newest Review: ... was declared a write-off by my insurer. I contacted both the dealer and Warranty Direct to claim any form of refund in view of the ... more
Breakdown Warranty for my Saab 95
Member Name: gif1712
Advantages: Cover against unexpected failure of all major components
I see that many of the previous reviews of Warranty Direct (WD) car warranties on this web site are derogatory. This doesn't surprise me because, like all their competitors, WD's car breakdown policy seems to cover virtually everything but many people, like me, only really focus on the small print when making a claim! If we were more careful then perhaps we wouldn't be so dissappointed!
My Saab 95 has been serviced by the franchised dealer since new strictly in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. Saab provided a 3 year warranty from new and, at around two years old, my air conditioning unit failed. This was covered by the Saab warranty and so I was able to reclaim the full amount of the bill presented to me by my Saab dealer. This made me reflect upon the risk of other potentially costly failures and because I used my car a lot for business I decided to pay ~£1,000 to extend the Saab warranty for another 2 years. During year four a routine recommended service/MOT identified a broken engine support bracket (an aluminium casting that stress cracked around one of its bolt holes). The cost of the service and repair, amounting to £1,241.15, was not covered by my Saab policy! What struck me was the modest cost of the replacement parts compared to the very high labour rate and, retrospectively, just how many things in the small print could result in the claim being denied! I'd done everything by the book and was left feeling cheated because the part failed due to a manufacturing error rather than any misuse.
At the commencement of year six Saab quoted £599 to extend my warranty for another year, compared to £373 from WD. Seemed a no brainer until you realise that, under my 'ExtraCare' policy, WD only cough up £60/h (2011 rates) for labour, whereas my franchised dealers rates are over £90/h. (Strangely WD don't state, either in my policy schedule or their website, whether their labour rate is inclusive or exclusive of VAT). However, the WD policy cover was more comprehensive than Saab's, so I went with WD, since it doesn't matter what the labour rates are if the fault isn't covered!
I made no claim during the first year of my WD policy. During the second year my Saab failed its MOT (Mar 2011) because the rear suspension mounting bushes failed. The repairs were covered by my WD ExtraCare policy which, after my £50 excess, refunded £299 against a total bill from my Saab dealer of £494. So I saved £195, or ~52% of my annual policy charge.
But you've got to be organised. Before paying my claim WD required proof of the previous year regular specified service, a copy of the bill and interrogated the garage to validate the claim. Furthermore, WD policy requires that you have your car serviced each year by a VAT registered garage in accordance with the manufacturer's service policy. DIY motorists will recognise the extra cost of this compared to doing all or some of the job themselves. Because of the high costs charged by garages this is quite an expense that you must incur if you want a WD policy. (My Saab dealer charges a total of ~£300 for each recommended service, MOT & Environmental Charge).
Returning to my first point, here is some WD policy wording (taken from my 'ExtraCare' policy booklet) to ponder:
Covered Items: 'Only the components originally fitted as standard by the manufacturer are covered unless agreed to in writing by us'.
Technically this can only mean parts that were 'originally fitted during manufacture'. So all parts subsequently replaced with genuine manufacturers components, even by an authorised dealer, may not be covered. I'm sure that most people imagine that, following an authorised repair, they are still covered provided their garage stated that only genuine spares were used, but if so why doesn't WD state this? So as to maintain continuity of cover must I write to WD providing a detailed specification and the providence of all parts fitted by my authorised Saab dealer? Looks like a cop-out to me.
What is insured: 'We (i.e., WD) will not pay for repairing parts which have not suffered a breakdown'.
What is not insured: 'Failure of any insured part ... aggravated due to the vehicle having been driven on after the fault was more than likely to have been apparent to the driver'.
These two really bother me. On the one hand I must wait till a part has failed and stopped working (WD definition), otherwise WD won't pay for repairs (by when I might be in the middle of nowhere). On the other, WD won't pay for parts that I didn't realise were failing if their engineer says my wife should have realised that they were whilst she was driving. Looks like a bit of a legal minefield to me!
Summing up, the cost of warranty cover represents a tidy sum for the average earner and, even if you have cover, many breakdowns that do arise are not covered. But if you want to be covered against a major failure I feel that WD offer a comprehensive policy at reasonable cost.
Summary: All in all it's a case of 'buyer beware'. There's no cheap way to run a car!