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LAST UPDATED:  May 24, 2019

Is Auto Repair Insurance Better Than a Car Warranty?

There are plenty of options to covering your car to decrease repair costs, including the lesser-known auto repair insurance route.

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PUBLISHED ON May 24, 2019

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Getty Images—peter dazeley

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Nothing can take a bite out of a wallet more than automotive repairs, especially when they are unexpected. A car can experience unexpected breakdowns just as much as regular issues due to aging. When something does go wrong, you can’t simply leave the vehicle sitting in the road or driveway. To avoid having an expensive paperweight, you will need to get it fixed. 

This is when the mounting costs can come in.

To avoid paying more than necessary for automotive maintenance and repairs, many people turn to auto repair insurance. Insurance can offer the potential to give you some major savings on automotive work under the right conditions. 

But it’s important to know when insurance can help and what you may need to do to take full advantage of the policy. More importantly, it also pays to know how it differs from the more common and popular bumper-to-bumper/powertrain and extended warranties vehicle owners use. 

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

Get a Free Quote

Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

Get a Free Quote

What is Auto Repair Insurance?

Auto repair insurance works much like any other kind of insurance policy: money gets paid out when certain conditions are met to reduce costs. On paper, this makes auto repair insurance very attractive; you can get money or reimbursement for repair work you’d otherwise have to pay out of your own pocket. 

As with all things in life, things aren’t quite as simple when it comes to how auto repair insurance actually works. The repair insurance is a specific type of policy that pays out under certain conditions. In other words, not all repairs are covered. 

Coverage depends on the part type and the cause of the need for service in the first place. All repair policies spell out these conditions ahead of time, so you will know exactly what is and isn’t covered even before you actually buy the policy. 

Beyond just knowing what auto repair insurance is and what particular policies will cover, it’s also helpful to know how this differs from typical auto insurance. It’s a common assumption that auto insurance and auto repair insurance are one and the same. 

In reality, this is far from the truth.

Auto Repair Insurance vs. Car Insurance

In order to legally drive your car, you likely have some kind of minimal level of auto insurance covering your vehicle (and yourself). Regular auto insurance essentially covers you in case of an accident or unexpected event that was out of your control. 

Sometimes, auto insurance will pay for repair work to fix damage caused by these things, but it is far from as extensive as a typical car warranty. This is where auto repair insurance differs.

With auto repair insurance, more types of repairs and services are covered under more conditions. You don’t necessarily have to have an accident to get repairs covered. While they aren’t totally comprehensive, covering everything on a vehicle for things as simple as routine maintenance, they kick in more than just general auto insurance.

The difference can best be seen between auto repair insurance and the minimal liability insurance you need to legally drive. Liability insurance, considered a form of auto insurance, doesn’t actually pay out for any kind of repair work.

Instead, it applies to potential legal (and sometimes medical) fees that come up after an accident. So, this kind of insurance wouldn’t be enough to get the cost-saving coverage you’d need on your vehicle.

Bubble wrapped car and house.
GETTYIMAGES

Many auto insurance plans allow you to bundle with other insurance plans like home insurance.

Auto Repair Insurance vs. Car Warranties

Given that auto repair insurance deals specifically with automotive repairs and maintenance, this type of insurance has more in common with standard and extended car warranties than normal auto insurance. Both can cover and reduce some automotive costs, but there are also enough differences to know when deciding which option is best for you.

A car warranty is basically an agreement with a manufacturer or a third-party provider to get repair work covered under certain conditions. Like auto repair insurance, these conditions vary and depend on the specifics of the plan. For factory warranties, for example, repairs are only covered with manufacturing and material defects. 

So, you can expect both auto repair insurance and car warranties to have certain advantages and disadvantages over each other. Some people like to have both (especially on new cars with a factory warranty, but you can usually get by with just one depending on what your needs are.

Similarities

First and foremost, both cover certain types of automotive repairs. In both cases, you can potentially pay less for important services that need to happen in order to get your vehicle going again after a major issue. While the specific conditions of when they pay out actually vary, both options are worth considering when you are looking for a way to keep costs as low as possible.

Second, auto repair insurance and car warranties have costs in order to keep a vehicle covered. In theory, these costs should be less than paying out-of-pocket for repair work, but it’s still something you will need to budget for ahead of time or on a periodic basis. Some insurance and warranty plans also have a certain deductible you will have to pay before coverage will actually start.

Finally, the scope of coverage can be similar between the two. While some warranties are limited to just drivetrains or safety systems, general bumper-to-bumper warranties cover the same range of components as most auto repair insurance policies. In this way, you get fairly comprehensive coverage with either option.

Differences

While insurance and warranty coverage are fairly similar in the broad scope of what they cover and how they work, the differences between the two options may help you decide which one is better for your own vehicle. These differences tend to be smaller than the big picture, so you may find some of them to be more important than others.

Here are a few of the key differences:

  • Payment: Car warranties tend to be paid upfront (often rolled up into a car loan if it’s from a manufacturer). Some extended warranty providers do offer yearly or monthly payment plans instead. Auto repair insurance coverage tends to be paid regularly.
  • Claims Process: With repair insurance, you typically have to file a claim before covered repairs can start. Manufacturer’s warranties have the advantage here since no claim needs to be filed.
  • Mechanic Availability: Although prior authorization may be required, repair insurance tends to be flexible in which mechanics and auto shops you can go to for repair work. Warranties are often more limited in the authorized mechanics and car repair shops
  • Eligibility: There are many car warranty options to find the right coverage for nearly any vehicle. While certain plans have different limits, warranties are more flexible than insurance policies that are often restricted to fairly new vehicles. 
  • Automotive Perks: Some insurance companies will even give you extra car-specific benefits like roadside assistance, dealership-only deals, discounts on multiple mechanical breakdown insurance plans, rental car reimbursement, and more.

Finding the Right Option

When it comes to deciding between auto repair insurance and a car warranty, it helps to reflect on what you actually need in terms of coverage. This will largely depend on the vehicle itself. 

If it’s fairly new, for example, you may find that little to no coverage is needed since repair work will likely be limited to routine maintenance for normal wear and tear and unexpected factory defects. 

Older vehicles, however, start to require more work as they age. This is where repair insurance or an extended warranty can make sense.

Auto repair insurance can be a smarter choice if your vehicle qualifies for it. Since payments are made over time, there is less of an initial investment to have it. On the other hand, car warranties take less time to get repair work completed since filing a claim usually isn’t necessary. 

More than anything else, keep an eye on the list of inclusions and exclusions both insurance and warranty policies have. These will tell you how much coverage you really get with each option.

It’s hard to go wrong with either choice, so your ultimate decision may just come down to eligibility, your budget, your vehicle’s maintenance needs, available insurance quotes, the vehicle service contract terms plus any additional coverage, and whatever will ultimately give you good peace of mind.

Do some research and get free quotes to explore your options ahead of time to get the most information possible.

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

Get a Free Quote

Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

Get a Free Quote