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What is alloy wheel cover and do I need it?

Shiny new alloy wheels – everybody loves them. But is there a way to protect them if they get scratched? And you just know they will...

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Alloy wheels are a big part of a car’s looks and image. Along with a great paintjob and other cosmetic touches such as a black roof or body-coloured door mirrors, a set of alloys can really finish a car off beautifully.

Vehicle manufacturers and new and used car showrooms still include ‘alloy wheels’ as a major part of their advertising and selling talk, and for good reason: they’re a must-have part of the deal as far as thousands of car buyers are concerned.

So it’s ironic then, that wheels are among the hardest components on any vehicle to keep clean, tidy and in good condition. Road dirt and bad weather aside, car wheels have a really hard life and are at the mercy of everyday motoring mistakes, incidents and accidents, every mile of the journey.

Potholes, uneven road surfaces, kerbs, multi-storey car parks – the list is endless, and these are all waiting to do some damage to your lovely alloys. For most drivers, it’s only a matter of time before you hear the tell-tale and heart-sinking sound of a wheel making contact with a paving stone, kerb or pothole.

Scuffed and scraped alloy wheels not only look unsightly, they will reduce the value of your vehicle as well. When you either come to sell your car or hand it back to the finance company, you’ll get hit for hundreds of pounds if your wheels are all scratched up.

So how can you soften that blow and find some sort of cover?

What is alloy wheel cover?

Alloy wheel cover is a specific type of insurance product that covers you if you damage your wheels and require a repair. Drivers will appreciate how easy it is to scuff a wheel against a kerb or crash through a pothole and come out the other side worse for wear. 

This kind of insurance brings the peace of mind of knowing that the cost – or at least the bulk of it – will be provided in the event of repairs being needed. There is often an excess amount that needs to be found by the car owner, but this is a small price to pay when you consider the full cost of repair to a wheel, or wheels.

Does it come with my car insurance?

You can claim for damage to your alloy wheels against your normal car insurance policy, but the excess amount on your policy is probably more than the cost of the repair, so it’s not likely to be worth it. Plus, making a claim on your car insurance policy will probably affect your no-claim discount, which will increase the cost of your insurance for the next several years.

Having separate alloy wheel cover means you never have to claim for damage on your usual policy. It’s one of many similar types of policies available, like scratch and dent cover, tyre insurance, key insurance and so on.

Is it worth having?

Alloys can be expensive to put right so this is a popular option for anyone driving around on expensive wheels –some higher-end examples including dual-tone, diamond cut or split-rim wheels can be difficult, time-consuming and therefore expensive to repair.

Specialist insurers offer specific alloy wheel cover which you pay for separately from your legally-required car insurance. With it you won’t need to claim on your car insurance and risk higher premiums, and you won’t lose that no-claims bonus.

It is also worth thinking about if you have a car on a PCP or other kind of lease arrangement where you are responsible for returning the vehicle at the end of the term, in the condition it arrived. If your wheels are scratched ‘beyond normal wear and tear’, you’ll either have to get them fixed at your expense or be billed for whatever the finance company thinks it should cost (which will certainly be a lot more!).

What do I get?

Alloy wheel policies vary but most will cover:

  • Refurbishment of a damaged wheel
  • Replacement of a wheel if it’s deemed too badly damaged to repair – you will normally get a set amount paid towards any new wheel
  • You can make numerous claims up to a maximum number for the year or term, depending on insurer

What they won’t cover:

  • Repairs to wheels that have already been scratched or damaged
  • Alloy wheels that didn’t come with the car when it was manufactured. Some insurers will consider this but make sure you tell them upfront
  • Unusual or very expensive wheels with complicated designs

What’s the cost?

It varies greatly between suppliers and on the type of wheel being insured, but most alloy cover policies will cost around £65-£90 a year. With the average alloy wheel repair standing at £90, it’s certainly something worth considering.

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Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.