Mechanical breakdown insurance isn’t legally required, but is it a good idea anyway?
Some providers offer mechanical breakdown insurance, but it is not a common insurance product. In fact, a mechanical breakdown insurance policy is more similar to an extended warranty or vehicle service contract than it is to liability or collision insurance.
Read this article to learn everything you need to know about mechanical breakdown insurance: what it covers, what it costs, and where to buy it. If you’re looking for additional coverage options, we’ll also introduce a few of the best extended car warranty providers.
In this article:
- What Does Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Cover?
- Do You Need Mechanical Breakdown Insurance?
- Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Vs. Extended Car Warranties
- How Much Does Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Cost?
- Who Has The Best Mechanical Breakdown Insurance?
- What About The Best Extended Warranty?
What Does Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Cover?
Mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) is a type of insurance for car repairs. Unlike standard insurance policies such as liability insurance, mechanical breakdown insurance does not cover you after an accident. Instead, it pays to repair parts that break down due to normal use.
It doesn’t require a wreck for your car to stop working. As a vehicle ages, even the best-maintained components can fail. If your transmission suddenly goes out, typical car insurance will not pay to replace it. Mechanical breakdown coverage can come in handy by covering the cost of repairs to specified vehicle components. In this way, MBI policies are similar to extended warranties.
Parts covered by an MBI policy can vary from provider to provider. The most comprehensive policies will cover nearly all vehicle parts, with only some exclusions. Items that are not commonly covered under mechanical breakdown insurance include:
- Wear-and-tear items like brake pads and wiper blades
- Non-mechanical or electrical parts like glass, upholstery, and exterior trim
- Damage caused by misuse, abuse, or neglect
- Damage that results from improper maintenance or the installation of aftermarket components
Do You Need Mechanical Breakdown Insurance?
Unlike liability car insurance, mechanical breakdown insurance is never required by state law. If you are leasing a vehicle, there is a chance that your lessor will require you to purchase some form of extended car warranty protection like mechanical breakdown insurance.
Every vehicle will likely need unexpected repairs at some point, and all drivers should budget for such costs. You can either save for the cost of repairs on your own or purchase extended vehicle protection like mechanical breakdown insurance.
There are pros and cons to each option. For example, if your vehicle doesn’t experience a covered failure and you don’t use your mechanical breakdown insurance, you’ll have paid for unneeded coverage. However, some drivers appreciate the peace of mind that an MBI policy can bring. If your vehicle needs a particularly costly sudden repair, and an MBI policy can help safeguard you financially.
Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Vs. Extended Car Warranties
Mechanical breakdown insurance is offered by a few insurance providers, but most companies offer a slightly different product known as an extended car warranty (also called a vehicle service contract or vehicle protection plan).
An extended car warranty works similarly to mechanical breakdown insurance. It is an optional contract promising to pay the cost of repairs should a covered component break down after normal use. Like MBI policies, extended warranties do not cover damage that is the result of an accident or misuse and have strict requirements for keeping coverage valid.
The main difference between the two protection plans is that mechanical breakdown insurance is legally considered an insurance product, so it’s subject to regulation by each state’s insurance commissioner. Because of this, some drivers feel more comfortable purchasing MBI policies, but there are plenty of reputable extended car warranty companies if you’d rather go that route.
|Mechanical Breakdown Insurance||Extended Car Warranties|
|Regulated by state insurance commissioner||Not regulated by state insurance commissioner|
|Can be paid monthly or as a lump sum 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|
|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|
|Only offered for newer vehicles||Coverage available for high-mileage vehicles|
How Much Does Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Cost?
The cost of mechanical breakdown insurance varies from provider to provider and depends on the vehicle you are trying to insure as well as your driving record. Like car insurance, there is no set cost for every driver. Typically, an MBI policy costs between $50 and $100 per year.
Because coverage must be purchased when a vehicle is new, you may end up paying for coverage long before you use it. New vehicles are already covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, so an MBI policy provides little extra protection until after your factory warranty expires (typically after three years).
Vehicle service contracts are often more expensive, but coverage can be purchased at any time, so you can wait until after your manufacturer warranty has expired.
Who Has The Best Mechanical Breakdown Insurance?
Not every insurance company offers mechanical breakdown insurance. Among top insurers, we found Geico to be one of the few that does provide MBI.
There is no single best mechanical breakdown insurance provider for every driver. If you have a newer car that’s insured by a company that offers MBI, it would be worth checking out policy details to see whether the coverage is right for you.
Geico Car Insurance
Geico is one of the largest and best-known insurers in the United States. If you’re looking for mechanical breakdown insurance and are already a Geico customer, it’s a good bet. Geico customers can save on an MBI policy by bundling with existing insurance products.
Geico’s strong customer service reputation along with its simple claims process and nationwide availability make it one of our top recommended insurers. Geico reviews are mostly positive, and the company holds an A+ rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
A Geico MBI policy can be purchased for new or leased cars that are less than 15 months old and have fewer than 15,000 miles on the odometer. This policy can be renewed for up to 7 years/100,000 miles. All Geico mechanical breakdown insurance policies come with a $250 deductible.
To find out more about Geico and to get quotes from insurers in your area, check out our full Geico review.
What About The Best Extended Warranty?
If you have an older vehicle or if you don’t already have coverage from a company that sells MBI, you may be better off going with a warranty company’s vehicle service contract. The chart below compares two of the best extended protection providers in the industry.
|Provider||AM Best Financial Strength Rating||Motor1 Rating|
|1. Endurance||A+||5.0 / 5.0|
|2. CARCHEX||A||4.5 / 5.0|
Endurance sells vehicle service contracts that pay to repair or replace certain vehicle parts should they break down over the course of normal use. Endurance is one of our top-rated extended auto warranty providers because it offers such comprehensive coverage options. Customers can choose from six plan options:
- Select Premier: Plan designed especially for high-mileage vehicles that covers most powertrain components
- Secure: Covers only parts of the engine, transmission, and drivetrain
- Secure Plus: Covers everything in the Secure plan, and adds coverage for the air conditioning, brake components, and steering
- Superior: Covers all components included in the Secure Plus plan, as well as the cooling system, suspension, and fuel system
- Supreme: Bumper-to-bumper extended warranty that covers nearly all mechanical and electrical parts
- EnduranceAdvantage™: Covers mechanical breakdowns as well as maintenance, like oil changes, engine diagnostics, and brake pad replacements.
Read our Endurance warranty review for more information, or reach out for a free quote below.
CARCHEX is another vehicle service contract provider that offers coverage similar to mechanical breakdown insurance. The company has a consistently positive online reputation, earning an A+ from the BBB and endorsements from companies like Kelley Blue Book, RepairPal, and Edmunds.com.
We rate CARCHEX highly for customer service because of its shining reputation and its wide range of customer support channels, including 24-hour live chats, telephone support, and email support. Being able to contact your contract administrator to handle claims quickly is important for any car repair insurance, and CARCHEX makes sure that customers can have claims approved as soon as possible.
Learn more about the provider in our comprehensive CARCHEX review. You can also click below to get a free, personalized CARCHEX quote.
Read our other articles: