Understanding Your Options for Tire Insurance

Do You Really Need To Buy Tire Insurance?

Woman fixing a car tire on the side of the road

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No one really thinks about their tires until something happens—like getting a flat tire due to tire damage or hitting an object in the road.

Learn about the types of tire coverage available and exclusions to understand whether tire insurance could be the right fit for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Tires are not usually covered by traditional auto insurance or roadside assistance policies, and must be insured through special means.
  • Your tire purchase may be protected through a manufacturer's warranty, road hazard warranty, an add-on tire and wheel insurance policy, or a vehicle protection program.
  • Tire protection policies are not always comprehensive, so check your specific contract for certain types of tire or wheel damage that may be excluded.

Types of Tire Coverage

Tires are normally not turned in for claims in comprehensive or collision coverage, due to the cost of a new tire often being less than the comprehensive deductible of your auto insurance policy. When buying tire insurance, this is not a part of your auto insurance policy.

Roadside assistance plans will provide emergency assistance to get your vehicle to a repair shop, but they don't pay for the tire to be repaired or replaced. Tires can be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty or by purchasing tire road-hazard protection. Coverage options, exclusions, and policy limits will vary by protection plan.

Here are a few of the most common types of tire coverage:

Manufacturer’s Tire Warranty

Most new tires come from the manufacturer with a built-in warranty, but a manufacturer’s warranty has limits. The manufacturer’s warranty covers any defects in workmanship.

If the tire is found to be flawed due to a manufacturing defect or material defect, the manufacturer will replace the tire free of charge.

Common defects covered by the manufacturer’s warranty include sidewall cracking and block or tread loss. Be aware that new-tire manufacturer’s warranties do not cover punctures from external sources.

Road Hazard Protection

When you buy a new tire from a tire shop, you will likely be offered a road-hazard warranty. A road hazard is something that causes a tire to fail when driving on a maintained road. Examples of road hazards include nail punctures or an impact that causes tire breakage. The cost may be $20 to $30 per tire on average.

If you frequently drive on roads where you see a lot of debris, road-hazard protection could make sense for you. Many manufacturers have mileage limits on road-hazard protection or limit the coverage to the first full year of ownership.

Tire and Wheel Protection

You can buy tire and wheel coverage on a new or used vehicle, and it will cover damage caused by road hazards such as glass, metal, potholes, or debris. In addition to paying for the damage, the policy will pick up any towing charges for road-hazard damage. Deductible limits and mileage limitations will vary by plan.

Vehicle Protection Program

Vehicle protection programs or mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) plans are often offered by a car dealership when you purchase a new car. The program may or may not cover tire and wheel repair or replacement due to a road hazard.

You will need to read the contract and have the salesperson explain the terms in detail before purchasing a vehicle protection program.

Be Aware of Coverage Exclusions

Depending on what type of tire plan you purchase, there will be some exclusions to coverage. Some common exclusions include:

  • Wheel replacement: Very few warranties/tire policies cover wheel or rim replacement. The cost of aluminum wheels is high, and many manufacturers will opt to repair rather than replace rims. They may only offer to replace the rim if the damage is too severe for the tire to hold air when inflated.
  • Alignments: Hitting a large pothole or colliding with other road debris can cause a car to become misaligned. Most road-hazard policies or tire insurance plans will not pay for your vehicle to be aligned.
  • Curb damage: Some plans exclude curb damage. Curbs made out of granite materials, often with sharp corners, can slash through tires.

Is Tire Insurance Right for You?

Buying tire insurance in addition to the coverage you already have with a manufacturer’s warranty may or may not be a good idea for you. You will have to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether the protection is worth the cost of the coverage for you.

Consider what is and isn’t covered, as well as the cost, and compare the cost of insurance against the cost of buying a new tire.

If road-hazard insurance is included for free when purchasing tires, it may be a good idea to take advantage of it.

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