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Coverage and Claims

Auto Insurance and Flat Tires - What's the Story?

Although auto insurance is an essential part of our life as drivers, there are certain situations where it might not help. Did you run over a nail on your way home from the gym and get a flat tire? First the bad news: You'll probably have to go through the time-consuming process of waiting for a tow truck, buying a new tire, getting it mounted, etc. The worse news: You'll almost certainly not be able to get your auto insurer to reimburse you for the cost of the replacement tire.

Insurance industry executives Dave Snyder, Don Griffin and Brad Vermilion agree. "That's an expense you'll likely have to bear, but the inconvenience of having a flat tire can be mitigated if you have roadside assistance either under your insurance contract or purchased separately," says Dave Snyder, vice president and assistant general counsel, of the American Insurance Association, in Washington, D.C. Snyder says that roadside service typically doesn't cost that much. "But it would be money well spent if you get a punctured tire and have to wait on the side of the road for a tow truck operator who might otherwise charge you quite a bit of money to tow your car a few miles down the road to an auto tire dealer or auto repair shop."

Insurance trade organization vice president Don Griffin brought up a scenario under which a punctured-tire incident just might be covered. "Make no mistake, there is no coverage for a punctured tire sustained on the roadways," emphasized Griffin, vice president of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, in Des Plaines, Illinois.

On the other hand, Griffin continued, "if you hit a nail that is attached to a chunk of wood, and that board flies up in the air and cracks your windshield, the physical damage portion of your insurance contract would pay for the windshield replacement. But you're still out of luck on the tire."

Ohio insurance agent Brad Vermilion describes a scenario where hitting a nail might result in auto insurance involvement: "If you run over a nail or other object, and then sideswipe another vehicle as you try to maintain control of your car, that's when your auto insurance would come into play."