If your car needs to be repaired after the warranty period is over, you still may be covered by the dealer’s vehicle service contract. However, you’ll only have a service contract if you purchased it from your car dealer.

If you end up in an accident or with a breakdown, it’s important to get your car off the road as soon as possible. This will ensure that you do not cause additional damage to your vehicle. If you have a service contract, it’s important to know how you’ll go about filing a claim if you ever need repairs. Here’s what you need to know about filing a vehicle service contract claim.

1. Know What’s Covered

A service contract will not necessarily cover all forms of potential damage to your vehicle. In fact, it usually won’t. If your car needs repairs that are not covered by the contract, you’ll be paying out of pocket unless the cost is covered by your car insurance. While you’ll need to check to see what your service contract covers, these repairs are covered by most contracts:

• Tune-ups, alignments, and adjustments
• Expenses related to towing your vehicle
• Costs associated with getting a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired
• Common repairs to brakes and clutches
• Repairs that are needed as a result of normal wear and tear

Best practices to filing a vehicle service contract claim
2. Take Your Vehicle to a Repair Facility That’s Covered

In many cases, a warranty will only cover repairs that are performed at certain facilities. For instance, many dealers that offer service contracts only cover repairs that are performed at the dealership. If you bought a Toyota, the service contract may only cover repairs that are performed at Toyota dealerships. So, make sure that the repair facility you choose is covered by your contract.

3. Obtain Prior Approval Before Getting the Repairs Done

Prior to getting repairs done, it’s important to make sure you get approval to ensure that it will be covered by the service contract. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that you get approval from your insurance company to ensure that any repairs that aren’t covered under your service contract will be paid for.

However, the specific terms of contracts vary from one dealership or garage to another. Some will not require prior approval as you will simply be able to take your car to the shop within a certain period of time and the service contract will cover your expenses.

4. Make Sure You’ll Be Able to Prove That the Repairs Were Performed

In order to receive compensation from your service contract, you’ll need to make sure that you can prove that the repairs were performed. This means that you should save receipts from the garage that fixed your vehicle, which can be used as proof of the repairs. In addition, taking before and after photos can be a great way to add additional proof.

Best practices to filing a vehicle service contract claim
5. Have Money Ready for Any Expenses You May Still Have to Pay

In many cases, there will still be expenses associated with the repair despite you having a service contract. In fact, there are often taxes and deductibles that you will still be responsible for. The specific amount that you’ll pay for these depends on both your service contract and the nature of the repairs that you need performed. Here are some things that will influence the amount that you pay on repairs after the contract:

• The dealer that you have the contract from
• Whether the contract is from the dealer or the manufacturer
• If the service contract comes from an independent garage, the specific terms will vary from one business to another

6. Realize That Parts May or May Not Be Covered

If you have to get new parts for your vehicle, this may or may not be covered. It will depend on the specific parts that you need as well as the terms of your specific contract. Furthermore, in some cases, the contract will only cover a certain part of your vehicle.

For instance, the manufacturer of a new type of tire may offer a service contract that offers a replacement of that particular brand of tire. If certain parts that you need aren’t covered by the service contract, you’ll need to make sure that you have the money to pay for the part(s) out of pocket. Here are a few examples of situations where replacement of a certain part may be covered:

• Service contracts with a manufacturer will typically only cover parts made by this particular manufacturer
• Service contracts with a dealership may only cover parts that are sold by this dealership

7. Properly File Your Claim

Some companies that offer a service contract will have their own unique requirements for the filing process. For instance, some service contracts will only accept applications that are submitted via mail as opposed to online or vice versa.

How vehicle service contracts are different from warranties
8. Be Prepared to Pay Upfront

In some cases, you will have to pay for the repairs upfront, and the company will then reimburse you for the cost of repairs. If this is how your service contract works, you’ll need to set aside some money for the full cost of the repairs.

However, some service contracts do cover the cost of the repairs upfront. In these cases, you will not have to worry about initially paying out of pocket.

9. Be Aware of Any Loopholes in the Service Contract

Many service contracts have loopholes that allow the company to not cover certain types of damage. These are a few examples of situations where a loophole may prevent the cost of repairs from being covered:

• If a service contract covers drivers who use their cars for private use only, damage to your vehicle may not be covered if you drive for Uber
• Some service contracts may only cover repairs in a certain state. Therefore, if your car breaks down while you’re on vacation, you may not be covered
• Sometimes, a service contract will only cover a specific type of damage. For instance, the contract may only cover damage that was caused by a collision

The terms of service contracts vary greatly from one company to another. So, these sorts of loopholes are another reason why you always need to fully understand the terms and conditions of any service contract that you have or are planning to sign on to.

10. If You Are Able to Choose Your Garage, Pick the Right One

If you are able to choose which garage to go to, make sure that you thoroughly compare the different options available. Look into each garage that you are considering on the BBB (Better Business Bureau) website. This website allows people to read reviews of a business and see any complaints against them. In addition, you should compare reviews on Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, and other review websites.

When it comes to vehicle service contracts and making claims, it all boils down to one thing: pay attention to the details. As long as you understand your contract, you’ll be much more in control.