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Alloy Wheel Insurance

Even the best and most expensive car insurance policies can’t cover absolutely everything. Every policy has exclusions and areas on the car which are not covered and top of this list are usually your tyres or alloy wheels. Nobody likes wading through pages of terms and conditions, but it’s really important to understand exactly what you are buying and what you are covered for before agreeing to hand over any money.

Often when you are buying a car it seems like after you have agreed the price there is the “hard sell” from the dealer on all sorts of added extras from breakdown cover to additional warranties, and alloy insurance is just another example of this. You should never feel pressured into buying any sort of policy at a dealership, as they are obliged to give you 48 hours to think things over and decide whether or not it is appropriate for your needs. Having this cooling off period also gives you the opportunity to do a bit more reading up on insurance and looking for alternative policies to the ones offered by the dealership.

What is Alloy Wheel Insurance?

As the very name suggests, alloy wheel insurance is a separate cover which protects you against damage to the alloy wheels of your car. If you accidentally scratch the alloys or bash them while parking, for example, then the alloy wheel insurance should pay to put them back to fresh from the factory condition. Often, this can be done at your home address, or by swapping the alloy wheel for a spare, taking the alloy into the garage, then replacing it once the repair has been completed.

Alloy wheel insurance works in the same way as any other motor insurance policy. You will pay the initial premium to purchase the policy, and then an excess which is a contribution you will have to make in the event of a claim. Alloy wheel claims have a much lower excess than your main policy though, typically around £10. One of the similarities between alloy wheel insurance and other forms of insurance is that the terms and conditions are often lengthy and complex. If you don’t read them, you risk assuming that you try to claim for something which isn’t covered. Although each product is different – and you’ll only know the specific rules by reading the terms – there are some basic rules and similarities to most policies.

What Alloy Wheel Insurance Covers
Cover Exclusions

Policies aren’t designed to cover every eventuality, and there are some aspects of damage to alloy wheels which is not covered under most policies. Always read the policy cover sheet so that you understand what you are covered for and what you are not covered for. The main exceptions are:

Tyre Insurance

It is impossible to discuss wheel insurance without mentioning tyres, as one cannot exist without the other. Tyre insurance is usually taken out separately to alloy wheel insurance and will meet the costs of buying a replacement tyre if yours are damaged beyond repair in an accident or because of criminal damage. Tyre insurance will also cover multiple repairs to the car over the course of the policy, although the exact limits will depend on the company and the policy.

Tyre insurance is only intended to cover accidents and malicious damage, and won’t pay out for tyres which have just worn down over time. If the tyres are approaching the legal minimum of 1.6mm left on the tread, you are unlikely to be given the full cost of replacing the tyre, just a proportion of the cost to reflect the fact it was partially worn. Policies also commonly exclude brands and sizes of tyres other than those recommended by the manufacturer. Cosmetic damage is also excluded too; the fault on the tyre has to be a serious enough defect that the car would fail a MOT test if left unrepaired.

Is Buying Alloy and Tyre Insurance Worth It?

There are really no rights and wrongs here, the decision will depend on a whole host of factors and your individual circumstances. One of the circumstances in which alloy and tyre insurance is really worth the money is when you are buying a vehicle on a PCP or personal contract plan, or leasing it. All of these agreements will require that the car is in good condition when it is handed back or valued at the end of the lease. Any damage such as scratches to the alloys will mean you have an additional sum to pay the finance or lease company, which may well be more than the insurance policy.

It's also a good idea to take out alloy insurance if you are prone to scraping your alloys or wheels and damaging them, especially if you drive a model of car which has expensive to repair wheels or tyres. Larger wheels and tyres are more common on big 4x4 vehicles and sports models than on smaller city hatchbacks.

If you drive a smaller car, with standard tyres, and are not in the habit of parking badly, then it may be that you decide to give tyre and wheel insurance a miss. If on the other hand you drive a bigger car, with more expensive tyres and wheels, it is definitely something to consider. Prices for alloy and tyre insurance are not standard though, and the drivers of the larger cars can expect to pay more money for a policy than the those with a smaller car. Sums charged for insurance can vary between companies which is why it is always important to shop around rather than simply buying the first policy you come across, or the one offered by the dealer.

Think also about the mileage you cover annually. The law of averages means that someone driving hundreds of miles a week to and from work is more likely to get a puncture than someone who never goes further than the supermarket. Condition of the road should also be considered – are your regular routes covered in potholes, or quite well maintained? All of these factors will affect the likelihood of needing to claim on the policy, and will help you decide whether investing in an alloy policy is worth the money or an unnecessary expense.

Cost of Alloy and Tyre Insurance

The exact cost of the policy will depend on the make and model of your car, and the shape and size of your alloy wheels. A starting point for alloy wheel coverage is around £50 per year, but if you are buying cover for a much larger car with very expensive wheels, then the price can easily rise into the hundreds. Tyre insurance is calculated on a similar basis, using the width of the wheels and the cost of replacement tyres as a starting point.

Many companies will allow you to buy alloy and tyre insurance in a single bundle, which is better value than buying the two products separately. You should always shop around for any insurance policy, by comparing the offers from a range of insurers. Cheaper isn’t always the best, especially if cheaper policies have far more restrictions and exclusions than a policy which costs just a bit more. It’s value for money which you should be considering, not just the cheapest policy available. Using a broker might give you a better deal as brokers will be able to direct you to specialist insurers which offer policies designed for your circumstances.3

Sourcing Tyre and Alloy Insurance

Most people will first encounter tyre and alloy insurance when buying a new car, as this is the sort of insurance which dealers will typically offer when you are trying to negotiate a deal. Although most people take tyre and alloy insurance to protect an expensive new asset, it is also possible to insure the alloys or wheels on a used car too. Not every used car will be eligible, and this will depend on the mileage and condition of the car at the time of purchase.

Claiming on Alloy Wheel Insurance

Policies and providers will vary in how they process their claims, and this should be clearly explained in the policy documents. Most insurers work hard to make their claims process as simple and straightforward as possible to minimise stress for customers. If you scratch your wheels and think you need to put a claim in, the first thing to do is make a call to the insurer to clarify what they want you to do next. Most will ask that you take the car to one of their approved garages to have the damaged assessed. The mechanic will then send a report to the insurer with photographs of the damage, and their recommendations for replacement or repair. The insurer will then either pay the garage directly for the work, or ask you to pay it yourself and them claim it back.

Depending on the work required, the mechanic may be able to come out to you and make the repair on the car parked outside your house. Alternatively, they may swap the alloy wheel for the spare, and take it away for repair. Either way, you are not left without access to your car for long periods as you would be with other types of accident repair.