Have you ever considered buying Tire and Rim insurance for your car? Is it worth it, in your opinion? I bought Tire and Rim insurance for my 2019 Corvette Grand Sport, and I’m still on the fence as to whether I should have or not.
So – let’s discuss:
Nowadays, you can insure just about anything – from appliances, to electronics, to furniture, and more. Tire insurance (sometimes called a road hazard policy or tire reimbursement plan) is heavily pushed by dealers right after you’ve signed the contract to purchase your car. The dealer (usually the “financing” guy) gives you a long and impassioned sermon about how “tire insurance is great” and “you’ll make your money back, no problem” – and then asks for about $1500 for 5 years worth of “coverage”. The instinct to protect that purchase is strong, and dealers know it, especially after you’ve just shelled out tens of thousands of dollars for a new car.
But what are you actually getting, and is it actually worth it?
Tire and wheel insurance/protection plans from dealers always sound great when you are discussing them. They pitch you that the plan you buy will replace or repair your tire and or your rim if you hit something like a pot-hole or road debris (nails/wood/etc) . They even sometimes pitch you that the plan will cover you if you bang your tire into the curb or sidewalk due to… umm… bad driving.
Of course, there are also limitations. Tire insurance does not mean that everything is covered. Pro-rated warranties are based on the wear and tear of the tire. You may get 75%, 25% or no coverage at all, depending on the tread-depth of your tire. I mean, you don’t expect an insurer to replace badly-worn tires with a brand new one just because you ran over a nail with only a few thousand miles before the tire is bald, do you? So, you’ll end up paying the difference.
Other limitations may be that the insurance plan allows for a certain charge for repairing, mounting, or balancing a tire – your repair shop may charge more… so again, you’ll end up paying the difference.
In regards rims, things get even murkier. Although the dealer will claim that Tire and Rim Insurance will cover the replacement of a damaged rim, actual rim replacement is becoming less and less frequent as the cost of aluminum wheels increase. Instead, tire insurers will likely opt to just have them repaired… and even then, only when rim does not hold air. What this means is that even if the rim is warped just enough to cause a vibration or premature tire wear, they likely won’t replace it. Rather, they will send it out to be straightened and repaired.
Repairing rims is usually a poor option, and while some rim repair is acceptable, badly warped or damaged rims will in no way ever be the same.
Do you want to risk your car (or life) driving on a damaged rim just because insurance wouldn’t cover it?
Now, having said all that (and remember *I* bought the Tire and Rim insurance), if your new car is one which you feel must be protected with Tire and Rim insurance, think about it in advance and don’t make an impulse decision at the dealership. Pricing for the insurance is a huge profit center for the dealership and there’s a LOT of flexibility in their pricing. Also, you’re not locked into buying the insurance from the dealer itself – something they’ll forget to share with you.
In my case, I felt (after doing my research) that Corvette tires and rims are quite fragile and that I was more than likely to pop a couple of tires and ding a couple of rims in the pot-holes of New York. So, before I picked up my car I reached out to a couple of different Chevy dealerships to gauge their pricing for the Chevy-branded insurance, and was able to get a quote for just under $1,000 for a 5 year plan. So, when I went into my dealership to buy my car, I was prepared.
The dealership I bought my car at offered me the same exact Tire and Rim insurance plan for $1,800! That’s some mark-up, indeed.
So… be prepared. Dealerships will negotiate. They will lower the price if you balk. So treat the insurance plan hard-sell as another opportunity to negotiate the best price you can!
Personally, I think I’ll ultimately get my money’s worth from my Tire and Rim insurance – I bought my car in May and, unfortunately, punctured TWO of them in the course of one weekend. My tire insurance covered the repair of one tire and the replacement of the other 100%. So, between the repair, the cost of a new tire and installation, I’ve already recouped about $500 of the $1,000 I spent.
UPDATE: So, a couple of weeks ago I somehow cracked a wheel and have no clue how. Didn’t hit a pothole. Didn’t run over anything. Was just chugging along the highway and my tire started losing air. Anyways, my Tire and Rim Insurance covered it! Another $750 saved. So now I’ve already recouped my insurance payment in the first 5 months of owning it!
2021-Jan Update: Now, my car has been in hibernation for the winter for 3 months now, but when I started it up to keep the battery from going dead… guess what… flat tire. Slow leak that Tire and Rim insurance picked up again. New tires galore!