What is it tyre insurance and how much does it cost?

Woman with tyre insurance on the roadside changing a car tyre.

Whether you’re into hotrods or sensible commuter cars, everyone can agree tyres are an essential part of all vehicles. So it is strange to think most car insurance policies don’t cover damage to your tyres and wheel rims. 

This is generally because tyres are often punctured, cut or otherwise damaged from everyday driving, not necessarily during an insurable incident. 

So, if you’ve got a killer set of wheels or simply want your tyres and rims insured so you don’t have to pay out of pocket to replace them, you might be considering tyre and rim insurance. This can be an affordable addition to car insurance for some drivers, but might not be worth the extra dollars for others. 

Let’s explore exactly what tyre insurance covers and who it might be suited to.

How does tyre and rim insurance work?

While comprehensive car insurance covers the broadest range of events that might damage your car, it usually doesn’t include punctures, blowouts or cuts to your tyres caused by driving through potholes, on unsealed roads or other events. This is where tyre and rim insurance comes in.

This cover generally comes at an additional cost, and might be a standalone policy or an option extra you can add on to your car insurance. It’s important to remember tyre and rim insurance is for when these components of your car are damaged, and not simply worn down over time. Everyday wear and tear is one of the things not covered by comprehensive car insurance and similarly isn’t included in tyre insurance.

What’s usually covered?

  • Tyres: If your tyres are punctured, cracked or damaged by potholes, hitting the kerb, rolling over glass or other road debris, you will generally be covered. Many policies offer an unlimited number of tyre repair claims, but usually have a limit on how many full tyre replacements you can get each year.
  • Rims: If your rims are scratched, damaged or destroyed, it's usually covered for repair. Again, you will likely find a limit on how many claims you can make a year in your product disclosure statement (PDS).
  • Towing: If your tyre is blown out or punctured and you can't drive, your tyre and rim cover can usually contribute towards towing costs. Again, this comes with a capped dollar limit, so it might not cover you for the full cost of the tow. 
  • Car rental: Some money towards a rental car can often be supplied through tyre and rim insurance if your car is unfit to drive for a certain number of days. You’ll usually find this is a lower amount or day limit than through a standard car insurance policy.
  • Accommodation: Some policies will cover accommodation costs if you're a certain distance from your home address (often more than 100km) and your car isn’t driveable. As always, cost coverage will be set to a limit.

What often isn’t covered?

  • Tyres with dry rot or flat spots
  • Tyres where the tread is below the legal limit (which is less than 1.5mm as set out in the 1989 Motor Vehicles Standards Act)
  • Recapped tyres
  • Tyres or wheels on unregistered or unroadworthy vehicles (no car insurance will cover these kinds of vehicles)
  • Tyres designed for racing, whether or not they’re on racing vehicles
  • Tyres or rims that have been recalled by the manufacturer
  • Damage to tyres or wheels as the result of an accident
  • Damage to tyres or wheels caused by negligence, vandalism or misuse
  • Cosmetic damage to tyres or wheels which doesn’t affect them functioning

Is tyre insurance worth the money?

As with all insurance policies, maintaining cover is a budgeting balancing act. 

While tyre and rim insurance could cover the cost of repairing or replacing your wheels, you may still have to pay an excess (a set amount you contribute before your coverage kicks in), although some policies might wave this fee. 

The cost of your tyre and rim insurance premium is dependent on a range of factors specific to you and your vehicle. Depending on the provider, this could include:

- Your age, gender, driving experience and insurance claims history

- Where you live and where you park your car (i.e. on the road or in secure private parking)

- The type and value of your tyres and rims 

In many cases, replacing your tyres and rims yourself might be more cost-effective than paying an annual premium for tyre insurance and potentially forking out an excess at claim time. This depends on how much your tyres and rims are worth, how easy they might be to replace and the cost of this additional insurance premium. 

As always, your best bet is to do thorough research across the board. Find quotes for car insurance, tyre and rim insurance, and the specific repair or replacement costs for your wheels. Then make an informed decision to suit your circumstances.

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