Action 9 investigates car warranties

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. —

A Kissimmee woman claims she paid nearly $2,000 for an extended warranty on her car, but it didn't deliver when she needed it the most.

When Myra Zibner bought a new car in 2007, she paid $1,800 for an extended warranty.

"We knew problems could be expensive, so we felt like we should take it," Zibner said.

But last month, the fuel tank cracked, and the car filled with fumes. The Zibner's stopped at the first repair shop they could, and it recommended immediate repairs.

"He said, ‘If you drive this and you get a spark, then God forbid you could blow up,’” said Zibner.

Zibner had paid Automotive Warranty Services of Florida for its premium plan, the best plan it offered. Once the car was at the repair shop, Zibner said she called the warranty company three times over three days to report the claim.

But every time, Zibner said she got a recording and no answers. She told the shop to go ahead and fix the vehicle, which cost about $800.

Two weeks later, the warranty company denied her claim, saying it was because she didn’t get approval first.

"How can you get approval if no human picks up a phone," said Zibner.

Many consumer groups think Zibner’s story is not an exception, and car repair expert Jay Zembower said getting approval can be a nightmare.

"There are many times in our business when we'll spend two or three hours trying to get approval, and we'll never get that approval or even talk to anybody,” he said.

Automotive Warranty has more than 220 complaints with the Better Business Bureau, but it has been an “A-plus” since it responds to the bureau and customers.

About 48 hours after Action 9 first contacted the company, Zibner’s rejection was reversed, and her coverage was approved.

"What's the purpose of having a warranty if you're not covered in an emergency?" she said.

The company had no comment, except to confirm Zibner’s claim was approved for payment.

Warranties are regulated by the Florida Department of Insurance where you can also file complaints.