Does Car Insurance Cover Repairs?
Though every car insurance policy is different, they don’t typically cover non-accident or ordinary repairs. However, there are options, like mechanical breakdown insurance and aftermarket warranties that can protect you against these repair costs.
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No one wants to add another monthly bill to their plate, but when it comes to car insurance, U.S. drivers frequently find that the benefits far outweigh the costs. That’s particularly true when you consider that most states require drivers to be insured if they plan on driving down public roads.
In addition to satisfying a legal obligation, car insurance can help protect you from the potentially substantial costs associated with car accidents—even minor fender benders.
What about everyday basic auto repairs that creep up? Can you turn to your auto insurance for costly mechanical repairs or a new tire?
The answer, though not always clear, is typically “no,” but there are some options to help you cope with those costs.
On this page:
- What Do Most Car Insurance Policies Cover?
- Does Car Insurance Cover Damage Caused by Ordinary Use?
- Considering Special Coverage for Car Repairs
- How Do I Know What My Car Insurance Policy Covers?
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What Do Most Car Insurance Policies Cover?
While there are numerous types of coverage available to today’s drivers, most basic insurance policies offer, at the very least, liability coverage.
As the name suggests, liability covers the other driver, and passenger, in the event that you are at fault in an accident. With this basic policy, your insurance will be used to cover auto repairs as well as any medical bills necessary to treat those involved.
Additionally, many insurance companies’ basic policies offer the following type of coverage should drivers choose to make additions to their policy:
- Personal injury protection: Covers medical bills associated with your care or that of your passengers, commonly referred to as personal injury.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection: Covers your expenses in the case you’re in an accident with a driver who does not have auto insurance or who has inadequate insurance.
- Collision and comprehensive coverage: Though this isn’t typically required, drivers who opt into this feature will maintain coverage in the event that they cause an accident and their vehicle is damaged. Without this coverage, you would be required to foot the bill. Additionally, comprehensive insurance also covers you in case your vehicle is stolen or damaged in other non-car accident events, like floods, vandalism, etc. Finally, if your car is totaled, the insurance may cover a new car for you.
Does Car Insurance Cover Damage Caused by Ordinary Use?
At some point in time, your car will likely show signs of normal wear and tear; breaks wear, exhausts can crack, and heaters can malfunction. And while this can potentially lead to costly car repairs down the road, insurance wasn’t designed to cover ordinary use.
Insurance covers what can be considered the “unexpected.” However, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Many cars, particularly newer ones, will come with a factory warranty at the time of purchase, and in some cases, consumers can even purchase said warranty when buying their car. If you have a warranty and you need to make repairs that aren’t covered by insurance, check with your service to see if they may be covered.
Considering Special Coverage for Car Repairs
A car warranty is often the first line of defense against unexpected repairs, but what if you didn’t spring for the warranty or if the warranty period is over? There are a couple of options you can consider should you want to add some additional coverage in the case of ordinary repairs.
Mechanical Breakdown Insurance (MBI)
This car repair insurance can offer financial protection in case something happens to your car like if your AC unit breaks down or your engine fails. Some car repair insurance companies may also include roadside assistance and towing to the repair shop, if necessary. However, they typically won’t cover regular maintenance (e.g., oil changes, tire rotations, etc.) or repairs that need to be made because of poor maintenance practice.
MBI is fairly affordable, with most plans coming in under $100 per year with deductibles between $250 and $500. However, it’s important to note that many insurance providers have specific eligibility requirements.
Before you purchase MBI, make sure to thoroughly review the policy, as some insurers will restrict the repairs to specific facilities or types of mechanical issues.
Often referred to as an “extended warranty,” an aftermarket warranty is a service plan that is offered in addition to or after your original factory warranty or manufacturer’s warranty has expired.
There is an abundance of companies that sell aftermarket warranties, and in some cases, insurance companies like AAA offer extended warranties or service plans, though they may also be marketed as mechanical breakdown insurance. However, the bulk of extended warranties are sold by companies that specialize in automotive warranties, like America Auto Care and CARCHEX.
The cost of an extended warranty can vary based on the make, model, and age of your car as well as the mileage and selected deductible. However, you typically can expect to pay between $350 and $700 per year.
How Do I Know What My Car Insurance Policy Covers?
Whenever you purchase insurance, be it auto, home, or life, it’s important to fully understand what’s included in your coverage and how you can utilize it should the need arise. At the time of purchase, you should determine what type of plan you’ve chosen (e.g., liability, collision, personal injury, etc.).
However, if you already have insurance coverage and you’re curious about what that entails, you should be able to find that in your policy agreement. However, deciphering the policy can be confusing, and so you may want to consider making a call to your insurance company for a thorough explanation of your coverage.
Additionally, because many cars do come with warranties, you also should make it a point to fully read and understand your service contract, which may include many of the major repairs not typically covered by auto insurance—something that can lead to serious savings in the long run.
Though car insurance is a necessity for most drivers, even the most comprehensive policies rarely include coverage for everyday, ordinary repairs (e.g., non-accident).
However, if you’re concerned about your ability to cover the expenses of regular auto repairs, you may find that mechanical breakdown insurance or an aftermarket warranty can give you the financial cushion and peace of mind you need when your car fails to function properly. Look around for companies that offer car repair insurance and free quotes to compare multiple options before making your decision.
Author: Jennifer Lobb