Don’t get stranded on the side of the road. Get mechanical breakdown coverage before you need it.
Car insurance protects your vehicle if you have an accident, but if your car breaks down unexpectedly, you could face an expensive repair bill. And while limited and extended warranties can cover the cost of parts and some repairs, there are restrictions and coverage doesn’t always last forever.
For older cars with issues or drivers who want extra peace of mind, mechanical breakdown coverage can help cover the cost of the unexpected.
What is mechanical breakdown coverage?
This coverage covers the costs of breakdown unrelated to an accident — like the ones that seem to pop up as soon as your warranty runs out. It’s available for new and leased vehicles with low mileage and is often renewable until your car reaches a certain age or number of miles.
Breakdown insurance covers all parts and systems on your vehicle, not just the specific list of items covered by most manufacturer warranties.
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What’s covered by mechanical breakdown coverage?
Depending on the policy you purchase, some of the common car failures covered by breakdown insurance include:
- Engine or drivetrain
- Electrical components
- Air conditioning
- Fuel system
What’s not covered by mechanical breakdown coverage?
While mechanical breakdown insurance can provide protection in a number of situations, there are some issues that policies typically won’t cover.
- Issues due to improper maintenance
- Regular wear and tear
- Intentional damage
- Misuse of your vehicle
- Tune-ups and oil changes
- Suspension alignment
- Wheel rotations or balancing
- Coolant, lubrication and fluids
- Spark plugs
- Brake pads, shoes and linings
How does mechanical breakdown coverage work?
Mechanical breakdown coverage works similarly to a standard car insurance policy. You’ll purchase coverage, file a claim, pay a deductible, then either get reimbursed for money you’ve spent on repairs or have the repair paid for directly.
How do I buy mechanical breakdown coverage?
Unlike manufacturer warranties where you pay a lump sum for coverage, you’ll pay a monthly premium for mechanical breakdown coverage.
Some major insurance providers offer mechanical breakdown coverage as an extra on standard insurance policies. Contact your provider and ask for more details on how to add it to your policy.
You can also get mechanical breakdown coverage from third party companies like:
- American Auto Shield
- Endurance Warranty
- Credit unions like Alliant, Navy Federal and First Tech
How do I file a mechanical breakdown insurance claim?
You can file a mechanical breakdown insurance claim the same way you’d file a car insurance claim. Some providers require you to make a phone call, while others may allow you to file online. Once your claim has been filed, your provider will likely contact you with steps on how to proceed.
What info do I need when filing a claim?
- Policy number
- Make and model of vehicle
- Details of the incident
- Contact information
- Preferred repair shops
- Diagnosis of issue if you have it — if not, leave it to the repair shop
Getting repairs with mechanical breakdown coverage
If you need to have repairs made to your car, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- File a claim before having any repairs done to avoid paying out of pocket.
- Once your claim is approved, your provider will likely tell you which repair shops you can bring your vehicle to.
- Give the shop your MBI policy details and number and instruct them to call your provider.
- Get your repair estimate from the repair shop before they fix your vehicle.
- Your insurer will either pay them for the repairs directly or reimburse you for repair costs.
Mechanical breakdown insurance vs. manufacturer warranty
Mechanical breakdown coverage is similar to a manufacturer warranty but with less coverage restrictions. Many MBI policies require you to pay a deductible, so if you have a valid warranty, you may want to see if it covers the repair first to avoid paying the deductible.
Is mechanical breakdown coverage worth it?
Mechanical breakdown coverage is often most valuable on older vehicles that are more prone to breakdowns, but can be helpful for newer vehicles if you use them to drive long distances.
It’s usually cheaper than an extended manufacturer warranty and is paid for monthly, making it more affordable. Prices vary depending on the provider and the vehicle you drive, but usually costs between $100 and $300 per year.
Let’s say you drive a 2015 Honda Accord that no longer has a valid manufacturer warranty. You’re out running errands and suddenly your transmission fails, leaving you to foot the bill to replace it. With mechanical breakdown coverage, you’d pay for the deductible and increased premiums for a total of $400. Without MBI coverage, you’ll pay for repairs out of pocket for a total of $5,000.
|Premiums for 1 year||Deductible||Transmission parts and labor||Your total cost|
|Without MBI coverage||$0||$0||$5,000||$5,000|
|With MBI coverage||$150||$250||$0||$400|
If you can’t afford to pay out of pocket for repairs or just want extra protection, mechanical breakdown coverage might be right for you. It covers a wide range of situations that car insurance and manufacturer warranties won’t, so it can help you avoid footing the bill for expensive repairs.
Compare your options to find the mechanical breakdown insurance that suits your needs.