Owning a car is great until it’s time to fix it. Newer vehicles come with warranties that cover defects and failures, but once that’s done, the owner is, well, on their own. Parts and labor are expensive, and costs can add up quickly. Even the most reliable car will eventually break down, and that’s where extended warranties can help.
The world of extended car warranties has been turned upside down as scammers and robocallers have turned public sentiment against the industry. The truth is that many of the bad reviews for warranty companies relate to unpaid claims or bad customer service, not for scams. There’s more good news, because the companies listed here are well-reviewed, legitimate and are available throughout the U.S.
Though the company behind it has been in operation for quite some time, Olive is a relatively new entrant to the world of extended car warranties. Customers obtain quotes and buy warranty coverage online, so there are no phone waits or calls with real people involved. Olive does not require a 30-plus-day waiting period for new customers as many other companies do. On the flip side, Olive makes a clear point about not covering preexisting conditions in cars and covering parts that fail due to abuse or neglect.
Olive offers three coverage plans: Powertrain, Powertrain Plus and Complete Care. The Powertrain plan covers internally lubricated engine parts, the fuel system, oil delivery system, timing system, valves and water pump. Powertrain Plus builds on that coverage with coverage for additional components such as the serpentine belt tensioner. The Complete Care plan adds the thermostat, turbocharger/supercharger assembly (if installed) and advanced valve timing systems.
- Quick, completely online quote and purchasing process
- No waiting period and no pre-inspection
- Simple, easy website
- Strict restrictions on covered components and preexisting conditions
- Have to use the company’s relationship with RepairPal to book claims
- Few add-on options
When using a 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited with 95,000 miles and a $500 deductible as our test case, Olive returned prices that range from $87 to $158 per month. Lowering the deductible to $250 pushes pricing to $152 to $276. The Complete Care plan and a $100 deductible, the most expensive coverage option, comes out to $395 per month.
ForeverCar built its popularity through partnerships with major banks and insurance companies, including Liberty Mutual and SafeAuto. The company offers extremely reasonable prices, three tiers of coverage, and benefits for new and existing customers. ForeverCar offers customers the ability to choose a deductible and a waiting period, which can go as low as $0 and a few hundred miles.
Beyond a flexible deductible and waiting period, ForeverCar customers get the benefit of 24/7 roadside assistance, trip interruption reimbursement and rental car coverage. On the downside, the company’s list of approved shops may not include your favorite local mechanic. That said, the company offers roadside assistance and other benefits during the waiting period, so the customer isn’t totally out of luck in the event of a breakdown or problem.
- Great benefits that include trip interruption coverage and roadside assistance
- Easy-to-use website and clearly presented information
- Reasonable pricing
- No plans longer than three years
- Doesn’t cover vehicles that are older than 2010 or that have more than 150,000 miles
The 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited is eligible for coverage under ForeverCar’s Gold and Silver plans. The Gold plan requires a $137 monthly payment, while the Silver plan includes a $113 monthly payment. Both come with a $250 deductible.
CarShield is one of the most popular extended warranty companies in the game, and it offers flexible payments, great benefits, and the customer’s choice of repair facility. The company sells several coverage plans that range from basic to exclusionary, and there are options for motorcycles and ATVs. On top of the extensive range of coverage options, CarShield includes great benefits with all of its plans, including 24/7 emergency roadside assistance, trip interruption reimbursement and rental car reimbursement.
When buying a CarShield plan, customers are required to wait 500 miles and at least 20 days before filing a claim. The company does not cover preexisting issues, so the waiting period is in place to prevent covering problems that the car had before. That said, most people report having no issues with the claims process, and the company is clear about what is and isn’t covered. Canceling is easy as well, and CarShield will refund the purchase entirely if the plan hasn’t been used within 30 days.
- Every plan comes with roadside assistance and other benefits
- Customers can choose their repair shop
- Straightforward claims process
- Some plans lack rental car reimbursement
- Obtaining a quote is annoying, and requires calling or being called
Getting a quote from CarShield is painful, and requires calling the company or accepting a call. The company requires the caller to give personal information to one representative before being transferred to a different representative. It’s a misstep from an otherwise solid company.
Endurance is one of the best extended warranty companies around, and it sells direct warranties. That means that the company services and handles its own policies and does not outsource claims to outside entities. The practice isn’t common in the industry, and it makes Endurance a compelling choice. Additionally, it gives the company a leg up on customer service, and the reviews show that people love the care and attention they received during the quote and even the claims process.
Endurance offers several coverage options from basic to exclusionary, and there are specialized plans for vehicles with higher miles. The company also sells a plan to cover breakdowns and regular maintenance. It’s available in three tiers, each with a list of covered and excluded components. Customers can add coverage for vehicle modifications and technical components, and some plans offer no waiting period.
- Huge variety of plans, payment options, and coverage add-ons
- Administers its own policies
- Great customer service
- Some free benefits expire and must be purchased to continue
- Getting a quote takes too long
The 2015 Subaru Outback is eligible for Endurance’s Secure plan, which covers the powertrain and related components. Under the plan, three years and 60,000 miles of coverage costs $129.32 per month. The plan includes a $100 deductible and a $389 activation fee, which would be waived due to a promotion Endurance is running for summer 2022.
Carchex is one of the more well-known companies in the extended warranty space. It offers five tiers of coverage for various vehicles, so there are more specific options for people with varying needs. Additionally, Carchex offers several benefits and add-ons that increase the value and convenience of its warranties. The company allows customers to choose their repair shop, and provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Carchex is an open and mostly transparent company, but it’s firmly rooted in old-school warranty company tactics. Prospective customers can submit a quote application online and get basic information, but to get an actual quote, the company requires a phone call and to give up some personal information. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Carchex phone reps are among the best in the business, and they seem genuinely happy to discuss cheaper or less extensive coverage options.
- Extensive coverage options
- Solid customer service and phone representatives
- Multiple payment plans and options
- Getting a quote requires giving up personal information
- May limit coverage on more expensive cars
A 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited is eligible for any of Carchex’s coverage options. The most expensive is the company’s Platinum Plan, which most closely mimics the coverage that the car carried from the factory.
Concord Auto Protect is another direct service provider, so its plans are handled in-house. The company offers three simple coverage options that include powertrain coverage at the most basic level. The top Premium plan offers coverage for the vehicle’s technology, heat and air conditioning, fuel system, brakes and suspension. Concord is also transparent and open about what is covered, and offers a clear list of non-covered components.
Concord isn’t the cheapest company out there, but its deductibles are reasonable, and it offers payment plans to split the cost of an expensive warranty over time. The company has earned plenty of great reviews online, and its plans come with additional benefits, such as roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and dead battery/fuel service.
- In-house policy administration
- Straightforward website and information
- Great customer reviews
- More expensive than some rivals
- Newer company with less experience and less of a proven track record
Extended Warranties: Frequently Asked Questions
Are extended warranties worth the money?
Many people advise against buying warranties because they are viewed as a waste of money. This depends heavily on the car and related repair costs. Of course, peace of mind and the knowledge that your bank account won’t be drained in the event of a repair can make any warranty worth it.
Do I have to get an inspection before I buy a warranty?
Most warranty companies do not require an inspection, which is why most have waiting periods with new policies. They want to make sure they are not being asked to pay for an issue that existed before coverage was purchased.
What are exclusionary warranty plans?
exclusionary because they cover almost everything, but list the items that are excluded instead of the covered components.
Why are tires and brakes not covered under extended warranties?
Components like tires, brakes and windshield wipers are considered “wear items,” which means they’re designed to wear as they are used. Warranties don’t cover these things because they would drastically increase the costs of covering a car.
Will a warranty cover a blown engine?
In many cases, yes. If it’s a failure related to an internally lubricated engine component, most powertrain coverage plans include it. Make sure you keep up on your maintenance however, because if you’ve failed to change the oil for many thousands of miles or do any of the routine maintenance, it could lead to a denial of coverage.
In evaluating extended warranty providers, we examined five key areas of service and coverage. They included customer service (as experienced in our direct contact with the companies) and reviews from existing customers, ease of filing a claim and the turnaround time of claims and payments, the breadth and cost of plans offered, overall trustworthiness by company reputation and the pricing of their offerings. Forbes Wheels surveyed 12 providers in all.
Customer Service and Reviews: 25%
When we contacted extended warranty companies to inquire about pricing and details on specific coverage options, we observed how pushy or accommodating each representative was. How knowledgeable were they about their product lines? How clearly could they articulate their company’s policies on various covered items?
At the same time, we used public reviews of each company to observe recent customer interactions and to determine how many complaints companies responded to. Claims of slow service, denied claims and other issues were noted if they were common.
Claims and Payments: 25%
Extended warranty providers love to tout their strong claim approval rates and easy claims processing, but important questions about how claims are paid and the times around the process need to be answered. In addition to asking questions about the communication process and timelines on payments, our research included a thorough review of customers’ opinions of filing a claim and having their vehicle repaired.
We also reviewed customers’ experiences with claims payments. If the provider pays the shop directly, how long did that take? Did the shop have trouble communicating with the warranty provider, or were there problems with payments? Did the provider pay for what they said they would?
Plans, Selection and Add-Ons: 25%
Variety is the spice of life, and it’s extremely helpful when buying a warranty for your car. We observed the number of plans available from each provider and how covered components are spread between them. Additionally, we asked each company how their policies’ availability and coverage change as cars age. For example, how much more expensive or restrictive is a warranty for a car with 150,000 miles as opposed to one with 50,000?
We also asked about and reviewed each company’s list of available add-ons, benefits and discounts. Points were awarded for companies that offer generous discounts and extensive add-on menus for services such as tire protection and rental car reimbursement.
Overall Trustworthiness: 15%
Trustworthiness is subjective, but our rating in this area is related to how well a company’s website, public information, reviews and phone representatives inspire trust. We focused on representatives’ attitudes and openness to share information, and how thorough the company’s online information is laid out. We observed the process of obtaining a quote, and assessed how difficult or annoying it is to find a price. Finally, we observed how many sales calls or spam calls were received after contacting a company. Points were awarded to companies that did not start calling or texting once asked not to.
Pricing and Value: 10%
Many warranty companies offer monthly payment plans and other flexible payment options. Companies earn points here by offering the broadest array of payment options, and for pricing their coverage options reasonably. It’s worth noting that almost everything is more expensive, especially car parts, so we factored price increases into our scoring in this category, as some warranty providers have responded to increases in their costs by bumping the costs of warranty coverage policies.