Written by Hejab Azam
30 July, 2019
When you buy or lease a new car you may have been told about alloy wheel and tyre insurance, but may not be sure what both policies are and if you need them. These policies are designed to keep your car’s wheels and tyres in good condition and are sold separately to conventional car insurance by dealers and specialists. Both are generally inexpensive and any claims you make will be less than paying the excess on a conventional insurance policy.
Read this guide for a breakdown of what each policy covers and a back-to-basics rundown of how to look after your tyres, to help you decide whether alloy wheel and tyre insurance is right for you.
Alloy wheel insurance covers the cost of repairs to your car’s wheels if they’ve been damaged or scuffed, helping to keep your wheels looking like new. Many modern cars, especially luxury models, tend to sport low-profile tyres that make it easy to scuff or catch them on kerbs when parking. This small, supplementary policy is designed to complement your normal car insurance and generally starts from around £50 for annual cover. It’s also possible to take out a larger policy that covers a longer duration for a reduced amount. If your car has particularly large wheels that are above 18 inches or feature split rims, the cost of insurance normally increases.
Alloy wheel insurance often has a maximum payout, typically about £150 per wheel. It usually only covers the original factory wheels fitted to your car, but it’s worth comparing policies to check how many times per year you can claim – typically the limit is three to four. Generally, if you’ve kerbed more than one wheel at any one time, then each are treated as an individual case. Claims on such policies are usually either free or will incur a small fee. Cover usually costs less than an excess payment on a normal car insurance policy. The idea is that it’s a fixed, relatively small cost to prevent making an expensive claim on conventional insurance or having to pay for repairs yourself.
Tyre insurance covers accidental and malicious damage to the rubber, and pays towards the cost of repairs and replacements. Most policies cover any tyres, including winter, that are fitted to your vehicle – providing they are in accordance with the manufacturer’s original specifications and within legal limits. It doesn’t cover the cost of normal wear and tear and costs vary depending on the size and type of tyres you have. As with alloy insurance, there’s usually a limit on the number of claims you can make in a year and the maximum amount you can claim will be limited to somewhere between £150 or £450 per tyre.
Alloy insurance is advisable if you regularly park in tight spaces near high kerbs or in multi-storey car parks where you often scuff your car’s wheels. If your car has large, complex or expensive tyres and you’ve had to pay for costly replacements in the past, tyre insurance is worth considering. Aside from helping to keep your car in top condition, you should bear in mind that you may be liable for repair costs at the end of a lease or PCP contract. While a single scuffed alloy wheel isn’t the end of the world, four kerbed wheels and a flat tyre will cost you.
If you have a big SUV then you should consider insurance, as not only will it help you get back on the road after a puncture, but it will let you place grippy, premium tyres on your car – which is always preferred to opting for an unknown budget brand and compromising on safety. After all, your tyres are one of the most important aspects of keeping your car roadworthy and you should protect that investment. On the other hand, if non-essential insurance seems like an expensive and unnecessary luxury and you don’t feel you’d benefit from the cover, then you may not want to bother. It’s entirely down to personal preference, budget and peace of mind.
Whether you opt for alloy and tyre insurance or not, the key to maintaining the roadworthiness and condition of your car is to look after your tyres. There are many reasons why your tyres may require maintenance, whether it’s due to age and use, excessive emergency braking or incorrect tyre inflation. To ensure that you stay safe on the road and avoid incurring penalty fees when you return your lease car, follow our back-to-basics guide to keep your tyres in top condition.
If your tyre looks a little deflated, it’s likely very flat as it takes a lot for a tyre to look like it’s low on air due to its tough construction. Ideally, you should check your car’s tyre pressure every time you fill up with fuel, or more regularly if you don’t use the car that often. Tyres that are underinflated can overheat and result in a decreased contact patch with the road, resulting in uneven tread wear and poor handling. Make sure your tyres are cold to the touch and have the correct pressure as outlined in the vehicle handbook.
The more tread depth you have, the better the hold on the surface you’re driving on and the longer the braking distance. As you cover more miles, your tread will wear down – this is also affected by the model, driving style, environment and weather conditions. It’s advisable to check the tread depth of a tyre at least once a month to ensure that it meets the minimum legal requirements of 1.6mm, but consider replacing tyres once they reach 3mm in order to maintain optimum braking performance.
Tyre damage such as tears and lumps are often caused by an impact between the tyre and an object in the road, such as a kerb or pothole. It’s important to always get the tyre checked quickly if you spot any sort of damage, as it can result in sudden tyre failure and increase the risk of a puncture. If your vehicle has been involved in an emergency manoeuvre such as emergency braking and you feel it’s handling differently, get it checked out. Sudden and heavy braking can leave your tyres with a ‘flat spot’ which leaves it vulnerable to further damage.
As a responsible driver, you should ensure that you’re using and maintaining competent tyres. Keeping them in good condition will reduce the risk of an accident and improve the overall handling of your car, so if you’re unsure whether yours measure up, visit your local garage or tyre fitter for advice. And if you can afford to take out an additional policy alongside your comprehensive cover, consider alloy wheel and tyre insurance to keep your car roadworthy and avoid costly premiums.
At AMT, we’re committed to providing a quality service that’s tailored to you. If you’re looking for a new lease vehicle, contact our dedicated team today to discuss your requirements on 0113 417 0155.