Regardless of what kind of car you own, new or used, you want to be able to benefit from it for as long as possible. And cars are not meant to last forever. All vehicles need constant maintenance and occasional repairs and replacements every now and then.
When you buy a new car, your manufacturer’s warranty will cover you for a few years, but that warranty usually expires after 3 years (or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first). Depending on the car maker, bumper to bumper warranties are good for 5 or 6 years. For instance, Volkswagen offers the lengthiest warranty in the industry: 6 years (72,000 miles). Other automakers that offer a good warranty are Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Kia, Jaguar, Genesis (5 years – 60,000 miles), Tesla and Infinity (4 years).
But after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, you are left exposed and uncovered, unless you have a backup plan. That is why vehicle service contracts (commonly referred to as extended car warranties) are a useful additional protection measure you can take for your vehicle.
The extended car warranty is a contract signed between you and a certain company, that covers certain parts of your car (or even your entire vehicle, depending on the warranty you opt for). What that means is that in case your car breaks down or you need to replace or repair a certain component for which you are covered through your warranty, the company will pay for the necessary repairs/intervention.
There are some requirements you need to fulfil in order to be eligible for such a contract and the terms differ from company to company: your car has to have a certain age and mileage on it, because not every vehicle out there is accepted.
Most extended car warranty services offer useful features such as 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and more.
USAA is short for United Services Automobile Association. This is one of the most renowned financial services companies in the United States, mostly because it’s been around for almost a century. USAA was founded in 1922 and it offers various services such as investments in stocks, mutual funds and so on, insurance (health, life, real estate, car/boat/RV), loans, credit cards and more.
There are some strict requirements when it comes to becoming a USAA member, as it is not for everyone. USAA exclusively serves military members and their families. These include active members such as those who serve in the navy, army, marines, etc., veterans, cadets and midshipmen. Their families are also accepted, including widows, widowers, unremarried former spouses of USAA members who joined while they were still married.
USAA has only two types of extended vehicle protection plans: manufacturer wrap protection and comprehensive protection.
Manufacturer wrap protection
This type of protection is mostly suited for new car owners who still benefit from their manufacturer’s warranty. If you still have 30 days (1,000 miles) left from your original warranty, then you should check out this USAA protection plan. The plan is not that complex and it offers more of a basic protection for your vehicle (similar to the powertrain warranty offered by manufacturers).
Comprehensive protection plan
This plan is very complex and it covers pretty much all the components in your car. The comprehensive protection is very similar to the bumper to bumper warranty offered by your manufacturer.
The good news about this plan is that it accepts used and old cars. You can sign up for this protection plan if your car is no older than 10 years (it doesn’t have more than 115,000 miles on the meter).
USAA offers a 60-day money back warranty for both these plans.
When it comes to the benefits of the USAA extended car warranty service, here are the most important ones:
- USAA doesn’t ask for a down payment
- USAA doesn’t charge a deductible (most companies charge at least a $100 deductible)
- USAA offers roadside assistance
- USAA offers unlimited rental car reimbursement for up to $50 per day; that means that if your car is in the repair shop, you can rent a car for as long as yours is in the shop and USAA will reimburse with up to $50 per day; this is a big deal, as most competitors only offer rental car reimbursement for only 3 or 5 days and the amount is smaller ($30 or so)
- USAA has a deployment deferment option which allows you to put your warranty on hold until you get back home
- USAA lets you pay for your extended car warranty in several installments; you can spread your payment over a period of 18 months