Find the extra perks and coverage that are actually worth it for you.
Whether you own a big luxury SUV or a small compact car, car insurance is a crucial purchase you’ll need to make before hitting the road. But beyond the standard coverage provided by your comprehensive car insurance policy, there are several optional extras you can take out to provide increased coverage for your set of wheels.
What are those optional car insurance extras and are they worth the additional cost? Let’s find out.
What optional extras can I add to my car insurance policy?
The list of available optional extras differs between insurers. The coverage options listed below are commonly offered by major car insurers and can sometimes be included with your policy or available for an additional fee.
Engine troubles, mechanical and electrical failures, flat tires and even running out of fuel are frustrating incidents that every driver hopes to avoid. Not only can they be extremely inconvenient and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere (or even in the middle of a busy intersection), but they can also leave you facing expensive bills for repairs and towing costs.
And under normal circumstances, your standard comprehensive car insurance policy won’t cover the cost of either:
- Any structural, mechanical, electrical or electronic failure or breakdown
- Incidents that occur due to general wear and tear
However, an increasing number of insurers include roadside assistance or offer it for an extra fee. This ensures that you’ll be covered for expenses and services such as:
- Towing your car to a repairer
- Replacing or jump-starting a flat battery
- Performing minor repairs related to the breakdown of your vehicle
- Changing a flat tire
- Delivering emergency fuel if you run out
- Replacing lost keys or helping you access keys locked in the car (spare key delivery or on-site assistance from a locksmith)
The exact roadside assistance services covered varies between insurers, so check your policy terms for full details.
- Rewards for safe drivers
- Basic to comprehensive
- Your own dedicated agent
Free roadside: Allstate
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Rental car coverage
If you’re involved in an accident, comprehensive car insurance can cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle. Depending on the severity of the accident, it’s possible that your car could be off the road for an extended period of time while it is repaired. And if the repairer needs to order a part from overseas, this wait could potentially be even longer.
Many people rely on their vehicles for work, errands, or a number of other uses, so it’s extremely inconvenient to be left without your main mode of transportation. You have the option of paying for a rental car, but that can be expensive and time-consuming if it’s coming out of your pocket.
Rental car reimbursement is designed to cover such a scenario. If your vehicle suffers extensive damage and can’t be driven safely until the damage is repaired, selecting this option ensures that your car insurer will cover the cost of a rental car while your car is off the road. This feature offers peace of mind and important financial protection.
The rental car will usually need to be similar to your current vehicle, but terms and conditions can vary between insurers. Keep in mind that while some policies will cover rental car costs for the entire time your car is being repaired, others will only cover costs for a fixed period, such as 14 or 20 days. The maximum daily allowance covered by your policy can also vary, so check the fine print.
Coverage for personal items
While comprehensive car insurance covers damage to your vehicle, not all policies cover lost, stolen or damaged personal items that are in your vehicle. For example, if your car is broken into and the thieves make off with your phone, the loss may not be covered by your insurer.
However, by adding this option to your policy, you can enjoy coverage for the personal items you carry in your car. Just make sure to check any limits or individual item sub-limits that may apply.
Glass and windshield coverage
Chipped and cracked windshields are a common and annoying problem. Although they can usually be repaired quickly and easily, the important safety qualities of windshield glass mean that the job may need to be done by specialist auto glass repairers – and this means repairs can be quite expensive.
If you select windshield coverage, your insurer will pay to have chipped, cracked and broken windshields repaired or replaced. While you may sometimes be required to pay a deductible for such claims, some policies include reduced or even waived deductibles for all glass and windshield claims. In other cases, your first windshield claim in any policy period may be deductible-free, but any subsequent claims will require you to pay the standard deductible.
Finally, it’s also worth checking whether a windscreen claim will affect your no-claims discount – it might affect your discount with some insurers but may not have any impact with others.
Do you always lose your car keys? Or are you worried about the cost of replacing your keys if they’re stolen by thieves?
If so, many insurers can provide coverage for the replacement of your keys and remote locking devices if they are lost or stolen. Re-coding costs are often also covered. This feature is included on some policies, but only available as an extra-cost option on others.
Just make sure to check the limit that applies to this benefit. Some policies will restrict coverage to $300, while others may provide up to $1,000 in protection or more.
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How much do car insurance extras cost?
The cost of optional extras depends on the option you select, the insurer you choose and the standard cost of coverage. Some options, such as restricting drivers or choosing a higher deductible, can actually reduce your premiums. Others, like roadside assistance or personal items coverage, will cause the cost of your premiums to increase.
The best way to calculate the effect these extras will have on your wallet is to get a quote. See how much your car insurance premium varies with and without those options included, and use that information to decide whether they offer enough value for your money.
Are car insurance extras worth it?
The answer to this question really depends on your personal preferences. If you want complete peace of mind and a higher level of protection than a standard policy can offer, it’s worth exploring the extra-cost options available on your policy. And if you want to save money by restricting drivers or mileage, or choosing one of the other cost-cutting options, they’re certainly worth considering if they suit your needs.
However, if you’re looking for cheap car insurance that only covers the essentials, extra-cost options most likely won’t be the best choice for you. While there are many factors that contribute to the total cost of car insurance, tacking additional coverage options can easily drive premiums up. It’s also worth remembering that some options, such as roadside assistance and coverage for chipped or cracked windscreens, may be available cheaper elsewhere.
Whatever you decide, remember to compare car insurance quotes across a range of providers and to read the terms of each policy closely to make sure you know exactly what’s covered.Picture: Shutterstock