From NBOA | What to Consider When Shopping for Warranties
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Keeping It Covered – What to Consider When Shopping for Warranties
In today’s economy, many people are opting to stick with their current vessel, investing in needed maintenance when necessary, in lieu of upgrading to a new boat. Although it is the more affordable option, it can still turn into an expensive alternative if your boat ends up with some serious fix ups along the way. Purchasing an additional warranty package is a smart way to ensure your more affordable “alternative choice” STAYS affordable. Even for those of you who are simply trying to avoid budget-breaking boating expenses, additional warranties are the best economical investment these days.
When purchasing extended marine protection (a service contract), it is important to be fully aware of all aspects of the agreement. With the help of SeaSafe Direct, a trusted and dependable warranty and service contract company, we have put together a list to help you understand the purpose of additional warranties and all of its corresponding elements.
What is the value of a marine extended protection?
There are many reasons to purchase a marine service contract. Your boat is one of your biggest investments. A service contract will help ensure it stays in the best mechanical condition. With the complexity of today's products, one repair can often cost more than the total price of your service contract. Hourly labor rates average $90.00 nationwide with most popular marketplace pricing over $120.00/hr. A service contract will provide you with peace of mind, knowing you only pay one price no matter how many repairs your boat needs.
Who services my service contract and how are claims handled?
A marine service contract program may be backed by either a third-party warranty company or your boat’s manufacturer. Typically referred to as the “administrator,” they act as a claims adjuster, authorizing the payment of claims to the service repair facility under the contract terms. Knowing who will be administering your policy can give you insight into the coverage they can offer and their claims procedures.
Furthermore, plans from a third-party warranty company score very highly when it comes to ease of use, according to J.D. Powers & Associates. Surprisingly, third-party protection plans are often less expensive and offer broader coverage levels than those offered by the manufacturer. If you decide to purchase a third-party service contract/protection plan, make sure they have the financial resources to meet their obligations under your contract by referencing how they have handled claims in the past. After all, the ultimate measure of a warranty company is by how quickly and easily they pay their claims.
The Internet offers numerous sites where one can research an administrator’s performance record. Here are a few sites to get you started:
- Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/)
- Dun & Bradstreet (www.dnb.com/)
Remember, it is the administrator (the company that pays your claims) of the service contract that you should thoroughly investigate.
Does the marine service company that I am interested in possess the necessary licenses/registrations to sell coverage in your state?
Many of the 50 states have licensing and registration requirements to make sure extended protection companies are financially sound and/or properly insured. A growing number of states, including New York, Florida, and California have very strict requirements when it comes to issuing licenses. While your state may not regulate coverage, searching for a company that meets the requirements in the states that do regulate coverage can help you to narrow your search. *SeaSafe Direct is one of few marine service companies with the ability to market in all 50 states.
What does a marine service contract cover? How does it define what will be paid for?
Standard protection agreements or common levels of coverage do not exist among providers. Service contracts come with many levels of coverage and include many different definitions on what the coverage will pay for. So be familiar with coverage terms, and ask questions if they seem vague or ambiguous.
What about Named Component Protection?
There are many different levels of named component protection as well. These types of programs list the parts of your boat that are covered. If a part is not on the list, it is not covered. One can buy a marine service contract with as few as 50 parts covered or with as many as 750; it all depends on what type of coverage you think you may need.
Where can you take your boat for repairs and how are claims handled?
A warranty from the manufacturer sometimes requires that you obtain service directly from them or their dealer. Look for a service contract program that gives you more than one service facility to choose from. You'll appreciate this if the boat ever needs service while you're on miles away from home. The better, more established companies can tell you if they have already done business with your repair facility of choice. Also beware of companies that require you to handle the entire claims process and wait to be reimbursed. Better marine service contract companies will allow you to take your boat to the repair facility of your choice and leave the rest to them; they’ll pay the repair facility for the repairs immediately via credit card with no paperwork or billing hassles.
What is the nature of the deductible?
Fully investigate a service contract’s deductible before signing on the dotted line. Consider not only its amount, but also whether it's per repair “visit”, or just per repair. With a per visit deductible, each visit to the shop or yard will run you a fixed amount, regardless of how many parts are repaired; a per repair deductible applies to each serviced part. What sounds like a minor difference could have a major impact on your wallet.
Is the service contract transferable?
Some service contract programs end when the person who bought the service contract sells the boat. A service contract that allows you to transfer it to a new buyer is preferable; it's also an excellent selling point for prospective buyers and an added value when you decide to sell your boat.
When will the marine service contract expire?
Some marine service contract programs have terms that start from the original in-service date (the original purchase date) of your craft. Others start on the day of purchase and end in a specified number of years. If you purchase a service contract, the date of expiration will be clearly defined.
I am still covered by my manufacturer's warranty. Why buy additional coverage now?
A common misconception is that by waiting to purchase your extended protection, you will get coverage for a longer time at the same price. While you can purchase coverage at any time, the cost for coverage rises as the craft ages and accrues hours, much like life insurance costs rise as we age. Put another way, you are buying tomorrow's coverage at today's rates.
What risks do I have if I delay purchasing coverage?
Coverage costs rise annually as parts and labor costs rise. Labor rates have risen by an average of $20/hr in the past 3 years.
As the craft ages and more repair data becomes available, many boat and engine types are placed into higher rate classes. Once you buy coverage, your rate class cannot change.
Hopefully these tips have helped shed some light on warranty options and what to consider when shopping for additional service plans! As always, NBOA is here for all of your boating needs. For more helpful information or for a free boat insurance quote, visit www.nboat.com.
This article is courtesy of the National Boat Owners Association (NBOA). For more helpful boating information and safety tips visit www.nboat.com.