Learn whether mechanical breakdown insurance is right for you and compare leading providers.
If you buy a new car, your vehicle is protected under a manufacturer’s warranty (also known as a factory warranty) for a specific number of years or miles, typically 3 years/36,000 miles. But once your car passes the time or mileage threshold, whichever comes first, you are fully responsible for most or all repairs to your vehicle.
Used car owners often find that their vehicle’s factory warranty already expired or is expiring in the near future. Many of these car owners wish to extend the coverage provided by their factory warranty but are not sure how to do so.
In this article, our review team discusses what mechanical breakdown insurance is, what it covers, and whether mechanical breakdown insurance for used cars is offered today. We'll also take a look at a popular alternative to mechanical breakdown insurance – an extended car warranty. You can get free quotes from the industry's highest-rated warranty companies below to see how much you would pay for coverage.
In this article:
- What Is Mechanical Breakdown Insurance?
- Does My Used Car Qualify For Mechanical Breakdown Insurance?
- What Does Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Cost?
- Pros And Cons Of Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
- Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Vs An Extended Car Warranty
- Our Recommended Providers
What Is Mechanical Breakdown Insurance?
Mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) is a special type of car insurance that covers car repair costs due to mechanical failures in your vehicle, not accidents or natural disasters. MBI plans are offered by insurance companies as optional add-ons, also known as riders, to your auto insurance policy.
What Does Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Cover?
MBI coverage typically includes needed repairs to major components of your vehicle, including your vehicle’s electrical and powertrain components. An MBI policy may also cover additional costly repairs that include your vehicle’s steering, suspension, cooling system, and climate control systems.
Does My Used Car Qualify For Mechanical Breakdown Insurance?
If you car is used, you probably do not qualify for mechanical breakdown insurance. That is because MBI is relatively uncommon and not generally available for used cars. At this point, the only major car insurance provider that offers MBI is Geico, but it only offers the insurance to leased or new cars that are less than 15 months old and with fewer than 15,000 miles.
You may see other reviews claiming that providers such as USAA, Allstate, AAA, Mercury, and 21st Century offer MBI. While some of these insurers used to offer breakdown insurance, they no longer do. You may also see that Mercury still offers mechanical protection as an add-on, but that is more similar to an extended car warranty than MBI.
If your car is new enough to qualify for Geico's mechanical breakdown insurance, keep reading to learn more about the cost and coverage of MBI. If your car is older and does not qualify, we recommend that you skip further down in the article and consider an extended auto warranty, also called a vehicle service contract, as an alternative.
What Does Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Cost?
The cost of mechanical breakdown insurance coverage depends on a variety of factors related to your vehicle and the car insurance provider with whom you choose to sign your contract.
Here is a list of some of the factors that will determine the pricing of your MBI policy.
- Age of the vehicle
- Mileage of the vehicle
- Buying from a dealership versus a third-party provider
- Vehicle year, make, and model
- Level of coverage
- Number of high-tech components in the vehicle
- Driving habits and routine vehicle maintenance
Pros And Cons Of Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
There are advantages and disadvantages to owning an MBI. In many cases, it is wise to consider purchasing an extended warranty rather than mechanical breakdown insurance.
Below, we share three pros and cons of purchasing an MBI policy.
- No down payment: Extended warranty companies sometimes require a sizable down payment and MBI policies do not usually require a down payment. However, our review team found that leading extended warranty providers such as CARCHEX may be willing to waive a down payment.
- Work with your insurance provider: If you like your current car insurance company and they offer MBI, you can simply work with them to add mechanical breakdown coverage to your policy. This will save you time researching extended warranties, which are not sold by insurance companies.
- Regulated by government: Since MBI is sold as an insurance product, it is monitored and regulated by a car owner’s state government. Therefore, the rates charged for these policies may be lower in some cases than the rates for an extended warranty.
- Limited choice of provider: Since MBI policies are sold as optional add-ons to your auto insurance policy, you have to purchase them from the company that provides you with auto insurance.
- Restrictions: As discussed earlier in this article, many MBI policies come with strict mileage restrictions and/or age restrictions for vehicles. Extended warranty companies typically offer plans that are more inclusive of older and higher mileage vehicles.
- High deductibles: The deductibles on MBI plans are generally much higher than deductibles offered by extended car warranty companies. The reason for this difference might be because of greater competition among extended car warranty companies for customers’ business. For example, Geico’s deductible is $250, while the highest deductible offered to our review team when examining top extended warranty companies was $100.
Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Vs An Extended Car Warranty
Whether or not you should purchase mechanical breakdown insurance depends on your individual situation. In general, our review team believes that extended warranties are a better choice because of their lower deductibles, less restrictions, more provider choices, and the added peace of mind.
|Mechanical Breakdown Insurance||Extended Car Warranty|
|Coverage||Only one available MBI policy option through Geico||Warranty providers offer several options of coverage, from powertrain warranties to bumper-to-bumper warranties|
|Regulation||Regulated by state insurance commissioner||Not regulated by state insurance commissioner|
|Payment Plans||Can be paid monthly and is renewed often, so financing terms are shorter||Can be paid monthly or as a lump sum and are not often renewed, so financing terms may be longer|
|Cancellation||Can be canceled any time but is typically not refunded||Can typically be canceled within 30 to 60 days for a full refund or at any time afterward for a prorated refund|
|Repair Shop||Let's you choose your own repair facility||Depends on the warranty provider|
|Coverage Availability||Only offered for newer vehicles that haven't reached 15 month/15,000 miles||Coverage available for low- and high-mileage vehicles|
|Benefits||Commonly includes rental car reimbursement and courtesy towing||Commonly includes rental car reimbursement, towing, roadside assistance, and trip interruption coverage|
Our Recommended Providers
If you believe an MBI is the best fit for you, we recommend getting an insurance quote from Geico. For those who believe an extended warranty may be the better fit, we recommend requesting a free quote from Endurance, CARCHEX, and CarShield.
You can read more information about these three top providers below.
Endurance, which offers direct-to-consumer extended service plans, was named our Best Coverage Provider for the following reasons:
- Covers automobiles with high mileage: Endurance offers extended warranties to automobiles with 200,000+ miles. This mileage rate is much higher than most other providers.
- Outstanding reputation: Endurance appeared on the 2019 Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. It also received a 2019 Stevie Award as a “Great Employer” for its top-notch employee benefits and is a Gold Member of the Vehicle Protection Association.
- Strong industry partnership: Endurance holds a prestigious partnership with Andretti Motorsports, one of the most successful auto racing companies in the world.
Learn more in our Endurance review.
CARCHEX has proven itself to be a leading provider for these reasons and more:
- Strong industry partnerships: CARCHEX partners with industry leaders such as Edmunds.com, Kelley Blue Book, and CARFAX. These partnerships are a strong sign that CARCHEX is a leading extended warranty provider.
- Excellent reputation: CARCHEX is an eight-time Inc. 5000 Hall of Fame honoree and was named a Top Workplace by the Baltimore Sun for seven consecutive years. The company also boasts an A+ BBB rating.
- Most affordable among leading providers: Our review team received sample quotes on a vehicle from the top providers in the industry and CARCHEX was among the most affordable extended warranty providers.
Learn more in our CARCHEX review.
CarShield offers the best value and stood out because of several reasons:
- Covers automobiles with high mileage: CarShield offers six types of extended warranties to automobiles with up to 250,000 miles. This mileage rate is significantly higher than most other providers.
- Good reputation: CarShield has been featured on ESPN, CNN, HGTV, and TBS and has a number of celebrity endorsements.
- Most-reviewed extended coverage provider online: There are over 6,000 CarShield reviews on Google and over 15,000 on Trustpilot. Additionally, CarShield has a 4.1-star ranking on Trustpilot.
Learn more in our CarShield review.
Deciding Between Endurance, CARCHEX, And CarShield
If you’re planning to buy an extended warranty from Endurance, CARCHEX, or CarShield but you’re not sure which provider to choose, we recommend that you take the steps below to help you make a decision. Good luck on your search.
- Receive a quote from each provider and compare their costs.
- Read our Endurance vs. CARCHEX or CARCHEX vs CarShield articles to see how the providers compare.
- Receive a sample contract from each and compare their coverage details.
Read our other articles:
- The Warranty Group: Reviews And Coverage
- Elite Warranty Coverage
- Liberty Auto Protection Review
- Our Review Of Carefree Auto
- CNA National Warranty Services
- Allstate Vehicle Service Contract Review
- A Complete Review Of EasyCare Warranty
- CornerStone United’s Extended Warranty
- Continental Warranty Review
- Wholesale Warranties Coverage Review