Tires are one of those automotive essentials that get taken for granted until it’s time to shell out hundreds of dollars for replacements. Keenly aware of this investment that car owners make every several years, tire retailers offer extra-cost insurance to protect against the road hazards (like nails) and defects.
It’s a way to offer additional assurance to tire customers while helping the business’s bottom line. But does tire insurance make sense for the consumer? We’ll explore the answers when it comes to Discount Tire, a popular tire retailer.
Overview: Discount Tire Insurance
Discount Tire offers tire insurance, sometimes called a road hazard plan, to its retail tire customers under a more elaborate title, Certificate For Repair, Refund or Replacement. Buyers are encouraged to add the coverage when purchasing the tires but have 30 days to add the insurance.
Discount Tire offers insurance on all the tires it sells, including products from:
Although not publicized, new car owners can buy Discount Tire insurance by visiting a company store and requesting coverage. The protection is subject to the manager’s approval, and the new vehicle must have tires sold by Discount Tire.
Let’s look into more details about Discount Tire insurance.
How Insurance from Discount Tire Works
The Discount Tire insurance contract spells out the terms for coverage and the claims process. In addition, there are many “fine print” conditions common in an agreement of this type. Legal wording is kept to a minimum, so a read-through before buying this coverage is wise and easy to do. There may be state-specific provisions to be aware of, too.
It’s interesting to note that the contract is with Discount Tire Certificate LLC, a separate company from the Reinalt-Thomas Corporation, which owns Discount Tire. This typical legal maneuver separates the main company from potential liability issues. Also, the coverage is called a service contract, not insurance, which frees Discount Tire from certain legal obligations in most states.
Discount Tire Insurance Coverage
In a nutshell, the Discount Tire insurance program will repair, reimburse, or replace a covered tire due to damage. But, damage is defined as “when the tire will no longer holds air due to a defect in materials or workmanship or contact with a road hazard.” Further, a road hazard is “damage that results from your tire’s contact with a pothole, debris (i.e. nails, glass, rocks, tree limbs), or any other object or condition not normally found on a roadway.”
Clearly, this details particular conditions when the coverage applies.
Discount Tire even explains situations where the insurance doesn’t apply, “collision; vandalism; chain damage; mechanical defects of the vehicle; willful abuse, or normal wear and tear.” That means the tires aren’t covered for things like getting in an accident or failing to have the tires balanced or the suspension aligned.
Additionally, coverage doesn’t apply to tires with a tread depth of 3/32 of an inch or less. The protection lasts for three years, regardless of miles driven.
Filing a Claim for Discount Tire Insurance
Most car owners with Discount Tire insurance will file a claim by taking the vehicle (or tire) to one of the company’s stores. Alternatively, a claim can be filed by contacting Discount Tire’s customer care department at 800-774-6560.
There’s also an option for getting reimbursed if the customer care department is closed when a tire emergency occurs. However, the car owner must make a claim within five business days, and the problem must be covered under the insurance.
Getting a Repair or Replacement
Under the terms of its insurance coverage, Discount Tire determines if getting your car back to normal involves repairing a tire (for free) or providing a replacement. So, a simple tire leak caused by a nail will likely be corrected by a patch and not a new tire.
Discount Tire will refund the original purchase and the accompanying sales tax if a tire is not repairable. Car owners also have the option to apply the refund towards a new tire at the original purchase price. Discount Tire may also provide a comparable replacement tire should the original tire be discontinued or unavailable.
Customers can buy a new insurance policy for replacement tires.
What About AWD Vehicles and Discount Tire Insurance?
Replacing a single tire on an all-wheel-drive (AWD) car involves getting four new tires to avoid drivetrain imbalance and the potential for damage. However, Discount Tire insurance only covers the damaged tire. In this situation, an AWD car owner must shell out for the other tires.
Profile: Discount Tire
Discount Tire started with a single store in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that opened in 1960. The operation reached 200 locations three decades later and doubled to 400 stores by 2000. Today, according to Forbes, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based enterprise has more than 1,100 locations in 37 states. Modern Tire Retailer reports Discount Tire is the second largest independent tire retailer in the U.S.
Texas and California are the top locations for Discount Tire stores; the company also operates stores under the America’s Tire brand in areas of California. Notably, Discount Tire doesn’t have a physical presence in the northeast U.S., an absence that may explain the company’s 2021 acquisition of online retailer Tire Rack.
Cost for Discount Tire Insurance
Using real-world examples, let’s see how much Discount Tire insurance adds to the cost of a set of new tires. The pricing is based on the Discount Tire location in Countryside, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) and three popular vehicles. The selected tires are mid-tier offerings well-suited for daily driving. The pricing summary below doesn’t reflect any discounts or rebates.
Curiously, there’s no set cost amount or formula for Discount Tire insurance. Coverage for each of our examples runs about 17% of the tire’s price yet fluctuates somewhat. Other vehicles may have different tire insurance costs but expect to pay 15-18% of the tire price for the extra coverage.
Discount Tire Insurance: The Case For/Against
With the knowledge of what Discount Tire insurance covers and the costs at hand comes the decision to buy this tire protection. There’s no definitive answer, but reviewing a few pro and con scenarios can help an informed car owner make a better determination.
Why Buy Discount Tire Insurance:
- Peace of Mind: Some people love the ease of knowing they’re protected from an unexpected financial hit, like a damaged tire. Despite the initial outlay, tire insurance at least means there are no out-of-pocket costs for a tire with a defect or road hazard damage.
- Run-Flat Tires: While run-flat tires offer the convenience of being usable after a puncture or other damage, they usually require replacement even after a simple nail hole (and are more expensive than conventional tires). Tire insurance absorbs the cost of these pricey tires.
- Prone To Tire Damage: Whether you frequent areas (like construction sites) that aren’t tire-friendly or have bad luck with tire damage, tire insurance can at least take the financial hassle out of tire damage.
Why NOT To Buy Discount Tire Insurance:
- Play the Odds: While AAA reports that the typical car owner gets five flat tires in their lifetime, that’s not a lot over 50 or 60 years of driving (about one per decade or longer). So, the chances of needing tire work are slim. Further, most of these issues involve a cheap-to-fix tire puncture (which costs about $25 to fix), so tire insurance doesn’t make much sense in these situations.
- Modest Driving: Those who work from home and do little driving throughout the week aren’t likely to benefit from tire insurance. It’s an extension of playing the odds, as fewer miles on the road means a lower likelihood of running into tire trouble.
- Manufacturer Warranty: Discount Tire insurance touts material and manufacturing defects as one of the areas of coverage. But all major tire manufacturers include a standard warranty for the same thing (albeit the terms might differ). So, you may be paying extra for insurance you don’t need.
FAQ: Discount Tire Insurance
There is no definitive answer to this question, as opinions vary. Consumer Reports is indifferent, at best, while Consumer’s Checkbook calls tire insurance a rip-off. Adding tire insurance can be a money-saver in the long run for those who drive many miles, use expensive tires, or have a history of tire damage. There’s also something to be said for the peace of mind that comes from this extra coverage.
The length of tire insurance coverage varies by the issuer. In the case of Discount Tire, the company’s program lasts for three years.
Protection against nail and screw damage is a standard part of tire insurance.
Tire insurance may also be called road hazard protection. Retailers have their own names for the coverage. For instance, Discount Tire calls its plan a “Certificate for Tire Replacement, Refund or Repair.”
In short, tire insurance protects against a defect in manufacturing or materials or if the tire comes in contact with a road hazard that causes damage. There are further stipulations that the problem affects the tire’s safe operation or ability to hold air.
Walmart charges $10 per tire for road hazard protection.
In general, traditional auto insurance does not cover tires unless the tire was damaged due to an accident (collision insurance) or affected by another issue (comprehensive insurance), like vandalism, theft, or a flood.
Supplemental tire insurance, like the kind sold by Discount Tire or most other tire retailers, doesn’t protect wheels. Wheel insurance is generally available as part of a tire and wheel protection plan sold by car dealers. Some third-party companies, like AAA, sell aftermarket tire and wheel insurance.
- Certificate For Repair, Refund or Replacement (no date). Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.discounttire.com/customer-service/certificates
- MTD 100 Dealers (July 22), Modern Tire Dealer (July 2022 edition). Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.moderntiredealer.com/digital-edition-July-2022
- Discounttire.com, various pages (no date). Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.discounttire.com/
Dave Goldberg is an automotive journalist and lifelong car fanatic. He writes for numerous enthusiast and business outlets and is an ongoing contributor to HotCars.com, one of the most popular car culture websites. When he’s not writing or driving, Dave is either under a hood or asleep. His credentials include a BA in Journalism from The George Washington University.