How to claim on your car warranty

If your car breaks down or needs replacement parts, warranty insurance could cover the cost. Here’s what you need to know about claiming on your car warranty.
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Woman on phone after car breakdown

A car warranty is designed to provide peace of mind. It pays for a wide range of potentially expensive repairs – although not all of them. For this reason, it makes a lot of sense to know the ins and outs of warranties.

Check you are covered

You can usually claim for the cost of repairs to your:

  • Engine and transmission

  • Fuel and ignition systems

  • Air conditioning

  • Electrics

  • Gearbox

  • Steering and suspension

  • Clutch and brakes

However, your warranty document will include a list of things not covered by your policy. Make sure the problem with your car is covered before you make a claim.

How to report your claim

If you have a problem with your car, contact your insurer immediately to report the issue and set up a claim. You may not be covered if you wait longer than seven days.

For your claim to be processed, you must follow the procedure set out in your policy documents and:

  • Call your insurer’s claims number, which will be on your policy documents. You won’t be covered for repair work carried out before reporting your claim.

  • Give details of the problem. Your insurer should tell you where to find your nearest authorised garage. If you use a different repairer, your insurer may not pay.

  • Contact the garage to book your car in for repairs. You’ll need to take a copy of your warranty policy documents, proof of servicing and a valid MOT certificate.

The garage will then work out the cause of the breakdown and check the parts that need repairing or replacing are covered by your warranty.

Any repairs carried out without your insurer’s approval may not be covered by your policy, so make sure your garage gets permission before they start repair work.

What about emergency repairs?

You may still be able to claim if you cannot contact your insurer and your car needs urgent repairs, for example, if you have broken down.

Ask for a receipt from the repairer that includes:

  • Details of your vehicle

  • Details of the repair, including the cost of parts and labour

  • The time and date the repairs were carried out

  • The location of the breakdown and the reason the repairs were required urgently

You should also keep any parts removed from your car in case your insurer asks to have them inspected. You’ll need to stress this to the repair garage up-front, or they will be binned. If the part is complex, too big or too heavy to keep, arrange to take photos of it.

Check whether emergency repairs are covered in your policy document – not all include this important benefit.

How will your claim be paid?

If your claim is accepted, your insurer will either pay the cost of repairs directly to the garage or reimburse you once you’ve paid for the work.

Your policy excess will be deducted from your claim, e.g., £50. You will need to pay this sum to the garage if your insurer settles your claim with them directly.

Will the full cost of repairs be covered?

How much of your claim will be covered depends on what your policy covers. Typically, it will include one of the following:

  • A claims limit: If the cost of repairs is more than your claims limit, usually the value of your car, your insurer will cap how much they pay you.

  • A limit on labour costs: If your insurer has a maximum hourly rate for labour, you may not get the full cost of repairs back.

Check your policy documents for information about claims limits, so you understand what you can claim for exactly before your car needs repairing.

What if your claim is refused?

If your insurer won’t pay the cost of your repairs, you can take things further:

  • Check your policy documents: Look for the list of conditions and exclusions in your policy wording. If the cause of damage isn’t listed as an exclusion in your documents, it’ll be easier to argue your case with the insurer.

  • Contact your provider: Have your policy documents to hand, so you can quote the parts that state the repairs are covered. If your claim is still refused, ask for a full explanation in writing.

  • Complain in writing: Send an email or a letter of complaint to your provider. If your warranty is provided by an insurance company, they have eight weeks to respond to your complaint.

  • Escalate your complaint: If your warranty is provided by an insurer, you can refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). If you bought your warranty from a dealership, check if they’re a member of a trade association.

The Citizens Advice website has more information about how to find out if your car dealership is a member of a motor trade association.

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