Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Running over a pothole or driving off of a curb can cause significant damage to even the most durable rims
  • You must carry physical damage coverage under your own insurance policy for any equipment to be covered
  • If you have aftermarket rims on your vehicle, the rims may be classified as custom special equipment
  • All custom equipment installed in your car will require a special equipment endorsement for coverage to apply
  • If someone vandalizes your rims or steals them off of the vehicle, your comprehensive coverage should cover it

Custom wheels give your vehicle a whole new look. If you recently purchased a new set of four tires complete with new rims, you need to look at your auto insurance policy to verify that you have the appropriate level of coverage and also to see if there are restrictions in your contract.

Auto insurance companies are only obligated to pay up to a car’s Actual Cash Value when settling a physical damage claim.

Since there are limitations to how much an insurer is obligated to pay, you need to plan ahead to ensure you have the right level of protection.

Use our free rate comparison tool to find the coverage you need for the best price!

Here’s a guide to help you build a comprehensive insurance policy to protect your car and all of its parts:

Were the rims part of the manufacturer’s package?

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If you purchased a vehicle that came off the line with a set of alloy wheels, you don’t have to worry about there being any issues when it comes to coverage. Your policy will pay for wheels and all other parts that came standard with your vehicle.

The issues start to arise when you’re filing a claim for owner-added accessories.

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Understand Your Auto Insurance Contract

Insurance policies are contracts that indemnify vehicle owners if they could suffer some sort of financial loss. Auto insurers have to have a legal team construct the contract so that coverage limits and exclusions are very clear.

If limitations aren’t spelled out in a detailed manner, you could file a claim for expensive additions and receive more coverage than the average person.

If you look at your contract, you’ll see that there are definitions and coverage explanations.

The actual contract can vary from state to state, but all states require personal auto insurance carriers to pay up to a car’s Actual Cash Value when paying for damage losses.

Any time a claim exceeds the car’s fair market value, it will be declared a total loss.

Some States Require Minimal Custom Equipment Coverage

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Many cars owners install aftermarket stereo equipment, wheels and other common parts in their vehicles. Since customization is becoming more popular, some states require insurers in their state to cover at least $1000 of aftermarket equipment at no additional cost.

Check with your state to see if you have this automatic protection.

Some companies will cover reasonable owner-added accessories for no additional charge. Other companies only provide the minimum coverage that’s afforded under the state law.

It’s up to you to disclose the fact that you have aftermarket rims and tires to see if they will be covered fully. Call your agent and ask them to explain how custom tires are covered and what you need to do to get more coverage.

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What is physical damage coverage?

Not all insurance policies cover damage to your vehicle, even if it’s only damage to the rims. With a basic policy, you only have coverage that will pay for liability losses.

It’s possible that your basic insurance could pay for your own medical bills after an accident as well if it’s a requirement in the state. No state requires physical damage coverage.

If your car is financed or it has retained enough value to justify the extra premiums, you should always have physical damage coverage. Physical damage is a first-party benefit that will pay to either repair damage to your covered vehicle or replace it with a similar vehicle.

A full coverage plan consists of the following:

  • comprehensive
  • collision

Having full coverage is great when you need it, but you need to remember that there are limits to how much your physical damage coverage will ultimately pay for. If you’re in a serious accident, the insurer will only pay the fair market value.

The car could be declared a total loss simply because the repairs needed are more expensive than what the car is currently selling for.

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What does comprehensive pay for?

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If your rims are vandalized or stolen, the rims would be covered under comprehensive coverage as long as there aren’t any exclusions. Filing a comprehensive claim is easy.

As long as you have a police report validating that someone intentionally damaged your wheels, the insurer will process your claim.

As a policyholder, you must pay a deductible. You should look at your policy to see what that deductible is before filing. The amount will be automatically deducted from your payout before the check is cut.

Also, remember that you’re not going to get the full value of the wheels and tires. Insurance companies pay the depreciated value for every part of the vehicle.

What does collision pay for?

If you run over a pothole or you hit a rock that damages the chrome of your rim, your collision coverage may pay. There is a drawback to filing a collision claim for damage like this. Since it’s under your collision coverage, you may have to pay a surcharge for filing a claim.

The surcharge can affect your rates for a total of three years.

Adding a Custom Part Endorsement

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If you discover that you don’t have coverage for your custom accessories, one option would be to add an endorsement to your policy. Instead of covering the accessories for their market value, they will be covered for a stated amount that you choose.

Just make sure that you keep your receipts to prove how much you paid for the wheels.

Auto insurance isn’t designed to provide unlimited protection. There are limits to what the insurance company will pay for. It’s your duty as a consumer to choose a policy with the least restrictions.

Before you call insurers, price the cost of policies in your area. Use our online quote comparison tool to do a quick price comparison and then contact each carrier to ask about rim damage coverage.

References:

  1. http://www.rimdocmd.com/blog/2014/october/a-look-at-the-common-causes-of-rim-damage.aspx
  2. http://www.thesimpledollar.com/car-insurance-aftermarket-parts/
  3. http://thismatter.com/money/insurance/types/auto-insurance.htm
  4. http://www.naic.org/consumer_glossary.htm
  5. http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/insurance/vehicle/auto-insurance/faq.html
  6. https://www.irmi.com/online/insurance-glossary/terms/a/automobile-physical-damage-insurance.aspx
  7. https://www.thebalance.com/understanding-full-coverage-auto-insurance-527412
  8. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/comprehensive-insurance.asp
  9. https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-a-car-insurance-surcharge-527252