Will Car Insurance Pay for a Flat Tire?
Last Updated on May 11, 2020
Flat tires can be devastating. Sometimes, flat tires are a minor annoyance. In other cases, a flat tire ruins your trip.
When you get a flat tire, will car insurance pay? Or will you pay out of pocket?
A standard car insurance policy does not cover any flat tire damages. You will only be covered if you have roadside assistance coverage.
You might have roadside assistance through your own insurance company like GEICO or USAA. Or, you might have it through a third-party like AAA. If you get a flat tire, you can contact your roadside assistance provider, and they’ll send a technician to change your flat tire for your spare.
Keep reading to learn more about how car insurance covers flat tire claims.
Standard Car Insurance Policies Do Not Cover Flat Tires
First, let’s make something clear. A standard car insurance policy will not cover a flat tire in most situations.
Your car insurance will only cover flat tire damage if you have roadside assistance. Roadside assistance is not part of basic coverage car insurance, although every insurer lets you add roadside assistance for a price.
Car insurance is built to cover unexpected expenses – like when someone collides with you on a highway. You didn’t expect the collision, and car insurance will pay. Flat tires are an expected part of car ownership: if you drive enough miles, your tires wear down.
Because car insurance does not cover wear and tear, it will also not cover engine breakdowns or other issues. If your car’s engine breaks down after 15 years of ownership, then you cannot make an insurance claim to cover engine repairs. It’s part of owning a car.
This same rule applies to all insurance policies. Your home insurance policy doesn’t cover the cost of replacing your roof every 25 years, for example. It’s an expected part of homeownership due to wear and tear.
Yes, your flat tire may have been an unexpected event. Your flat tire might have blown up while driving in the middle of the road. It was unexpected for you – but according to your insurance company, it’s part of normal wear and tear on your vehicle and will not be covered.
Flat Tires Are Avoidable
Your insurance company considers flat tires a normal part of wear and tear on a vehicle. They also consider flat tires to be avoidable events. With proper precaution, you should not experience a flat tire.
If you check your tire tread regularly, replace old tires, and maintain proper tire inflation, then you can avoid most flat tires.
However, if you drive with old tires, fail to replace worn tires, or overinflate or underinflate your tires, then you increase the chances of a flat tire.
Car insurance covers unexpected events – not avoidable events. That’s why they rarely cover flat tires.
Car Insurance May Cover Vandalized or Stolen Tires
There are some situations where car insurance covers tire-related issues:
- Someone stole your tire
- Someone vandalized or slashed your tire
Your car insurance only covers these damages if you have full coverage car insurance, which includes liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage.
Comprehensive coverage covers theft and vandalism. If someone steals your vehicle, for example, or keys your car, then you can make a claim through comprehensive coverage car insurance.
Sometimes, it’s in your best interest to make a claim for a tire issue. In other cases, it’s not worth your deductible.
Generally, you should replace all four tires instead of replacing just one tire. One tire might cost less than your deductible, which is typically around $250 for comprehensive coverage. A full set of tires, however, costs more, which could make a claim worth it.
What Happens If a Flat Tire Leads to Vehicle Damage?
In some cases, your flat tire leads to a serious accident. If you were driving at high speeds, for example, and your tire blew out, then you might have collided into another vehicle, rolled into the ditch, or sustained other serious damage.
In this situation, car insurance should cover the damage from the accident, including the cost of repairing your own vehicle and any other people you hit.
If you were the only vehicle involved in the accident, then your insurance company will treat it as a single-vehicle accident. You were at fault, and your premiums should rise.
If you hit other people after your flat tire, then your insurance company will treat it as a multi-vehicle accident where you were at-fault, and premiums will also rise.
How Roadside Assistance Covers Flat Tires
Roadside assistance is an optional insurance add-on. You pay $40 to $225 per year for roadside assistance, then get added coverage.
You can buy roadside assistance through your insurance company. Some drivers buy it through a third-party organization like AAA or Good Sam. All roadside assistance plans work the same, and most companies offer multiple tiers of coverage based on your needs.
If you have a flat tire, and you have roadside assistance, then you can contact roadside assistance and have them change your flat tire. A technician will be sent to your location to change your flat tire for your spare. If you don’t have a spare tire, then the technician may tow your car to the nearest service station.
Roadside assistance typically covers events up to $100. You should not have to pay the technician out of pocket. However, you may still have to replace your tires – roadside assistance will not cover new tires.
Final Word on Flat Tires and Auto Insurance
A standard car insurance policy does not cover a flat tire in most situations. However, there are some situations where car insurance will pay for a flat tire.
Your comprehensive coverage covers tires that are slashed, vandalized, or stolen, for example.
Or, if you have roadside assistance, then roadside assistance will cover the cost of replacing your tire on the side of the road.
Insurance companies don’t cover flat tires for two reasons. First, they’re part of ordinary wear and tear. And second, they’re avoidable: with proper maintenance and inflation, you can avoid most flat tires.