Many American drivers who have to pay for unexpected, major car repairs could be at risk of facing costs they cannot afford.
Fifty-one percent of consumers reported paying for major vehicle repairs in the last five years, according to a survey of more than 2,000 Americans conducted online for Ally Financial by The Harris Poll. Of consumers who reported paying for repairs, four in five (80 percent) said they spent $500 or more, and nearly three in five (58 percent) said they spent $1,000 or more. One in three (33 percent) said they spent $2,000 or more.
Meanwhile, a 2018 Federal Reserve study found that when faced with an unexpected $400 emergency expense, 41 percent of adults either could not pay the expense, or would need to borrow money or sell something to cover it. This means that a significant portion of drivers who are faced with unexpected repairs could not cover them out-of-pocket.
“Expensive car repairs can cause serious financial stress, especially for those with little or no emergency savings,” said Mark Manzo, president of Ally Insurance. “Most major vehicle repairs come unexpectedly, and standard insurance policies usually only cover repairs in case of accidents. The rise of complex vehicle technology and the increase in the number of used vehicles on the road have only made repairs more expensive and frequent.”
There is a solution that could help many consumers – vehicle service contracts (VSCs), which cover repairs that often are not covered by factory warranties or are no longer covered by expired warranties. Only 18 percent of those surveyed reported buying a VSC in the last five years. Nearly three in five (59 percent) of those who had purchased VSCs said the peace of mind that comes from knowing repairs are covered was the top motivator for buying the coverage.
“Service contracts provide customers with the security of knowing they don’t have to worry about car repair bills derailing their budgets or putting them in debt,” said Manzo. “Payments for some VSCs can be rolled into regular auto payments, making it easier for consumers to budget and map out their expenses ahead of time. You can’t know when to expect the unexpected, but you can plan ahead by talking to your dealer about vehicle service contracts.”
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