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Insurance–it’s everywhere. One can insure just about anything. Are tires an investment one needs to insure? Tire insurance, also called a road hazard policy, road hazard warranty, or tire reimbursement plan, is a rapidly growing industry in the automotive world.

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Tire warranty plans pay in full or in part for the replacement or repair of damaged tires and/or rims from “road hazards.” Road hazards are defined as pot holes, debris, nails, wood, and other hazards found in the road. Curbs, sidewalks, and stone walls are not road hazards. This is an important distinction to consider when deciding if tire insurance is right for you (discussed further ahead).

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Tire plans last for a specific period of time and tire wear tread-depth. Some plans last 2-3 years. Others can last 5 years or 60,000 miles. Several plans come with fixed amounts of coverage: $500 per year up to 4 years. Many contracts require three years of law school to comprehend. In terms of tread depth, a tire is usually considered worn out (and thus the plan null and void) at 2/32 to 3/32 of an inch.

Another important distinction is in the type of plan.

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Tire reimbursement plans are just what they say. You, the plan holder, will be reimbursed after the claims process is finalized–usually 2-8 weeks. There is an out-of-pocket expense. These plans are often sold by new car dealerships. The prices can range from $300 to $600 dollars.

Road hazard policies operate similarly to reimbursement plans. However, some tire insurance providers, in partnership with the repair facility, may have a direct-pay relationship. Thus, there would be no out-of-pocket expense, except for applicable deductibles, and items not covered in part or in full. These plans are primarily sold by tire dealers and repair shops. The prices range from $10 to $30 per tire. They also can be based on a percentage of the cost of the tire: usually 12% to 15%.

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Both types of plans have a number of variables, requiring a magnifying glass to read the fine print. Also, many are pro-rated warranties, covering only a percentage of the cost of the tire based on its wear.

Claims and Coverage

Depending on the plan, claims are initiated by the repair shop. The process is fairly smooth, although there can be a significant delay from the provider for authorization. This delay may be an hour or an entire weekend. This means that you’ll have to “ok” the tire replacement, and then hope it’s authorized for the full amount, or drive on your spare.

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Another interesting note is that a lot of tire damage is caused by curbs. Curb damage is not covered under most road hazard policies. High granite curbs with sharp edges slice through tens of thousands of tires per year.

You Won’t Notice

Many people don’t even notice tire damage. Other than to see if the tires are holding air, who “really” looks at tires? Tires are subject to a whole host of external influences which cause bubbles, slices and gouges. Despite the potential dangers of damaged tires, the damage very often does not translate into any noticeable drivability issue. The point is that if you don’t notice any tire damage you can’t benefit from the coverage.

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Research Shows

Those raving about the benefits of a road hazard policy are the actual folks in the industry who stand to benefit from the sale. They’ll argue that it’s so cheap–only $10 to $20 per tire. Even so, for four tires, that’s $80 based on the “possibility,” the “chance,” of damaging a tire that meets the repair/replacement requirement protocols.

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Auto Insurance

If a rim and tire has incurred significant damage, it’s quite likely that other problems have resulted as well. The first is that the vehicle may have been jarred out of alignment. Secondly, hub bearings, front end components: tie rods, spindles, ball joints, and a variety of other components may have sustained damage. In this case, auto insurance, which you are already paying for, will pay for everything–brand new.

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Free Road Hazard Warranties

Many tires come with road hazard warranties FREE. In other words, in an effort to secure retailers, many tire distributors provide service centers FREE road hazard insurance. Some shops pass this on to their tire customers, others sell them. Ask if the tire “comes” with a road hazard protection policy. If not, request that one be provided at no additional charge. It’s worth a shot.

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Also, some car manufacturers provide road hazard warranties FREE of charge for 12 months or 12,000 miles. If you’re buying a new car or even used, ask that the dealer provide a complimentary road hazard policy (after all the wheeling and dealing is done, of course), and just before you commit.

What’s the best road hazard policy?

Money in your bank account.

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Have you ever given a thought to what it must be like to be a child sitting in a dusty drab schoolroom, trying desperately to concentrate, while hunger gnaws continually at your belly. This is the daily reality for many African children, both in remote rural communities and also in the ghastly shack-towns that surround the major cities. Jobs are a rarity, families are under stress and there just is never any money, period! Worst of all, this situation is not going to change anytime soon. Probably not in our lifetime!
 
Concerned people, both local and outsiders realize that international food aid can only go so far and often dries up, just when it is most needed, as in the current international financial crisis. To survive, the communities have to find a way to help themselves. Intervention at a local level is needed. One solution to the problem is to promote food gardens at the schools themselves - run jointly by the community, the parents , the teachers and mostly by the children themselves. Labor is freely available and skills can be taught, but the problem is that what little money that can be collected must go towards buying tools, seeds and fertilizer. The tools would be unsophisticated and can be donated or borrowed. Some seed would have to be bought, but in part it can be collected from the last crop. Fertilizer is always the main problem. In many areas soils are very impoverished and would yield little.


 
Stacked Tire Worm Composting is an appropriate low tech solution to a widespread Third World problem. It is a technology that does not require constant cash injections and can be fully run by the communities themselves. Besides everything else, the children will have a great deal of fun worm farming and will learn something useful. Best of all they will be doing something positive to improve their own lot, without relying on any handouts. This builds up human dignity. "Give a man a fish and you feed him today , teach him to fish and you feed him always".
 
Think about it - maybe there is something you can do to help.

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If you run a tire shop or a tire store then everyone who works there needs to know a little bit about sales and a lot about tires. You should have routine classes for all employees so they can answer questions about road hazards, tire wear, inflation pressures and the various companies and brands that you sell. Customers need this information and they want it and desire it.

Additionally, every person in the tire store should understand when the customer has a problem or a question that can be solved by another purchase that they need to be referred to the person who takes the orders. Often customers will ask about balancing, car rims or performance tires. When a customer starts asking these types of questions there may be future sales involved that can be had quite easily.

Running a busy tire shop and busting tires can be difficult and hectic, but missing sales because your staff could not answer basic questions or field the needs of the customers, means you are losing business and that is not something that makes a lot of sense considering your over head, labor costs and inventory costs. Lets face it your job is to sell tires, put them on cars and go to the next car as everyone leaves satisfied and happy. Please consider all this in 2006.

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