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Published: February 2, 2022Last updated: October 18, 2022

Road Hazard Coverage: Is It Worth It?

Should you take the bait for road hazard warranties?

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When buying tires, you are often offered the option to purchase a road hazard warranty, otherwise known as road hazard coverage. If you already have roadside assistance or collision coverage, an additional warranty is unnecessary. However, some types of tires are worth purchasing warranties for.

Road Hazards Coverage and Warranties

To determine whether additional policies are worth it, you need to know what road hazards coverage and warranties are.

What Are Road Hazards Coverage and Warranties?

Road hazards coverage, also known as a road hazard warranty or protection plan, is a warranty on tires that covers the cost of tire puncture repairs or tire replacements due to non-negligent driving.

What It Covers

  • Damage to tires that happened as a result of everyday driving up until 3/32-inch tread depth
  • Road hazard damage such as punctures from debris like nails, broken glass, and potholes

What It Doesn’t Cover

  • Tread depth of 2/32 of an inch or less
  • Negligent driving, which can include torque snags, overloading, curb mounting, brake lock-up, and wheel spinning
  • Maintenance issues, such as underinflation
  • User error
  • Off-road use
  • Collisions
  • Fire
  • Vandalism
  • Theft, including catalytic converter theft
  • Sidewall abrasions
  • Manufacturer’s defects
  • Cosmetic damage that doesn’t affect the performance or safety of the tire1

CheckNOTE

Comprehensive coverage covers events like burglaries and vandalism. Car insurance covers theft only if you have comprehensive coverage.

Cost

Road hazard warranties cost 10 to 12 percent of the total cost of the tires. To see how much your warranty will cost, look at the average costs of tires below.

Wheel size range (in inches) Types of cars Average cost per all-season tire Average cost per winter/snow tire Average cost per all-terrain tire Average cost per performance tire
12-15 Compact cars

Golf carts

$80-$150 $100-$150 N/A N/A
16-20 Compact crossovers

SUVs

Small trucks

Vans

$100-$250 $200-$400 $150-$250 $100-$750
18-26 Trucks

All-terrain

utility

performance vehicles

$140-$170 N/A $200-$500 $200-$1,0002

For example, a winter/snow tire costing $200 would have a warranty of $20 to $24.

Are Road Hazard Warranties for Tires Worth It?

Now that you know how much road hazard warranties cost, we can answer the question of when, if ever, you should buy them.

  • Tire repairs: Given that tire repairs cost only $10 to $20 per tire and that tire punctures are rare, buying a warranty usually doesn’t make sense. Rather, we recommend buying roadside assistance with your regular car insurance policy, as it covers tire repairs.
  • Tire replacements: Tire replacements are much more expensive, costing anywhere from $70 to $150 for regular cars and $200 or more for trucks, SUVs, and premium cars. That being said, tire replacements are only necessary when there has been major damage to the entire car, which collision insurance would cover. Collision coverage pays for damages to your car in the event of at-fault accidents, so an additional warranty would be redundant. The only situation in which you need tire replacement without additional damage to your car is a tire blowout. However, blowouts usually occur because the tire is either worn or underinflated, which fall under user error. In other words, a road hazard warranty probably won’t cover tire blowouts anyway, making it unnecessary.
  • Low-profile tires: The only time buying a road hazard warranty makes sense is if you have low-profile tires, which have a shallower sidewall than standard tires. High-performance and sports cars with higher wheels often have low-profile tires, which are easily damaged without any other vehicle damage occurring.

Light BulbTIP

A road hazard warranty is unnecessary if you already have collision coverage and/or roadside assistance, unless you have low-profile tires.

How to Get and When to Buy

If you decide road hazard coverage is worth it, buy it when you purchase your tires, from the same company. If you wait too long and need a tire repair or replacement, it won’t work retroactively for damages.3

What Is a Road Hazard?

So, what exactly is a road hazard? Any debris on the road is considered a hazard, such as these:

  • Nail
  • Glass
  • Potholes4

Note that you are protected under collision coverage if you run into a pothole. Learn more about pothole coverage.

What Is Not a Road Hazard?

The following don’t count as road hazards and aren’t covered under road hazard warranties:

  • Fire
  • Vehicle collisions
  • Pedestrian collisions
  • Animal collisions

Tread Depth Standards

It’s impossible to talk about road hazard coverage without discussing tread depth.

What Is Tread Depth?

Tread depth is the vertical measurement from the top of a tire’s rubber to the bottom of its deepest grooves. As you drive, the tread wear decreases, which makes it harder for tires to grip the road. Every tire, from light truck tires to snow tires, has a tread life. Tires with tread depths that are too low could pose safety issues, especially in rain or snow, as they make road hazard damage more likely.

In the U.S., tire depth is measured in increments of 1/32 of an inch. New tires start off with tread depths of 10/32 to 12/32 of an inch, but if the depth gets too low (3/32 of an inch or less), consider replacing your tires to avoid damages, punctures, flats, or failures.

Tread depth Is it sufficient?
6/32” or higher Yes
5/32” Yes, except on snow-covered roads
4/32” Yes, except on wet roads
3/32” No, get new tires
2/32” No, get new tires5

Tread Depth Standards by State

In 44 of the 50 states, tires must have a minimum tread depth to pass inspection. Find your state’s minimum tread depth below.

State Minimum legal tread depth
Alabama 2/32”
Alaska 2/32”
Arizona 2/32”
Arkansas No standard
California 1/32”
Colorado 2/32”
Connecticut 2/32”
Delaware 2/32”
Florida 2/32”
Georgia 2/32”
Hawaii 2/32”
Idaho 1/32”
Illinois 2/32”
Indiana 2/32”
Iowa 2/32”
Kansas 2/32”
Kentucky 2/32”
Louisiana 2/32”
Maine 2/32”
Maryland 2/32”
Massachusetts 2/32”
Michigan 2/32”
Minnesota 2/32”
Mississippi 2/32”
Missouri 2/32”
Montana No standard
Nebraska 2/32”
Nevada 2/32”
New Hampshire 2/32”
New Jersey 2/32”
New Mexico No standard
New York 2/32”
North Carolina 2/32″
North Dakota No standard
Ohio 2/32”
Oklahoma 2/32”
Oregon 2/32”
Pennsylvania 2/32”
Rhode Island 2/32″
South Carolina No standard
South Dakota 2/32”
Tennessee 2/32”
Texas 2/32”
Utah 2/32”
Vermont 2/32”
Virginia 2/32”
Washington 2/32”
West Virginia No standard
Wisconsin 2/32”
Wyoming 2/32”6

Recap

In sum? Unless you have low-profile tires, buying an additional road hazard warranty isn’t worth it. Instead, we recommend getting full coverage car insurance, which includes collision coverage.

While collision coverage isn’t a required minimum coverage in any state, it’s necessary if you want your car’s damages covered. Keep reading for our auto insurance FAQs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about road hazard coverage.

What is a covered road hazard?

These are some covered road hazards:

  • Any debris on the road
  • Broken glass
  • Nails
  • Potholes

What is a road hazard claim?

A road hazard claim is a claim submitted to an auto insurance company for tire damage that requires either repair or replacement. Policyholders submit road hazard claims when their tires are damaged from debris on the road. If the tire damage is from a collision, then it would be a collision claim rather than a road hazard claim.

What is the definition of a road hazard?

The definition of a road hazard is a danger or risk on a public road that may cause damage to a vehicle. Road hazards include rocks, potholes, metal, glass, and plastic debris.

What is a road hazard failure?

A road hazard failure is when a tire becomes unusable because of damage, whether that’s punctures, cuts, or impact damage. When a tire has a road hazard failure, it needs to be replaced, not repaired.

Citations

  1. Road Hazard Warranty Information. Omnisource. (2022).
    https://www.omnisourceusa.com/content/warranty

  2. Tire Prices Guide. Discount Tire. (2022).
    https://www.discounttire.com/blog/tire-prices-guide

  3. Is Road Hazard Warranty for Tires Worth It? Ag Workers Insurance. (2021, Apr 12).
    https://agworkers.com/is-road-hazard-warranty-for-tires-worth-it/

  4. Tire Road Hazard Warranty: Is It Worth the Extra Expense or Not? Jack Williams Tire & Auto Service Centers. (2022).
    https://jackwilliams.com/blog/tire-road-hazard-warranty-is-it-worth-the-extra-expense-or-not#:~:text=Road%20hazard%20damage%20is%20damage,common%20examples%20of%20road%20hazards

  5. Tire Tread Depth: Why It Matters and How to Measure It. Tire America. (2020).
    https://www.tireamerica.com/resource/tire-tread-depth

  6. Tread depth debate goes on. Dunn Tire. (2007, Oct 22).
    https://www.dunntire.com/learning-center/Recommended-Tread-Depth/#:~:text=There%20is%20no%20national%20law,no%20standards%20on%20tread%20depth