Car Insurance Extras That Could Save You Money

A woman adjusting the car rearview mirror in her car's interior before driving.

If you're like most people, the biggest concern on your mind when shopping for car insurance is how to save money. Getting discounts on car insurance isn't the only way to reduce your expenses, however. Sometimes, spending a little more to customize your car insurance coverage can actually bring down your costs in the long run. Keep reading to learn about less common car insurance coverage that can help you save money.

What Car Insurance Usually Covers

What's known as "full coverage" car insurance generally includes the following types of coverage:

  • Liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage caused by an accident
  • Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for medical costs related to an accident
  • Collision coverage for the cost of car repairs due to an accident
  • Comprehensive coverage for vehicle theft or damage that's not related to an accident, such as vandalism or a natural disaster
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to pay medical and other costs if you're in an accident with a driver who lacks sufficient coverage

States often mandate drivers have a certain level of liability coverage or otherwise show financial responsibility. If your car is leased or financed, the lender may require you to buy a certain level of comprehensive and collision coverage to protect the vehicle.

Less Common Types of Car Insurance Coverage

Once you've purchased full-coverage insurance, there are plenty of ways to customize your insurance coverage depending on your needs. (Keep in mind that the same coverage may have different names depending on the insurance company.) Less common types of car insurance that could save you money include:

  • Gap insurance: Depending on the size of your car loan, you may reach a point where your car is worth less than the money you owe on it. If an accident totals your car, insurance pays the lender your car's value, but you're still responsible for paying the difference. Guaranteed asset protection insurance bridges the gap by covering the difference between your loan amount and the car's value, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.
  • Rideshare driving insurance: If you're a rideshare driver for companies such as Uber or Lyft, you're at risk during the time when you're logged into the rideshare app but haven't accepted a trip request from a rider. If you're involved in an accident during this period, neither your personal car insurance nor the rideshare companies' insurance may cover you. Rideshare coverage ensures you and your car are protected, so you can focus on earning money instead of worrying an accident will cost you money.
  • Roadside assistance insurance: Many insurers offer coverage for roadside assistance if you need help in an emergency, such as getting a flat tire, running out of gas or having a mechanical breakdown while driving. If you don't already have roadside assistance through another company, this add-on can give you peace of mind.
  • Mechanical breakdown insurance: Similar to the extended warranty you are offered when you buy a car, this insurance covers a wider range of mechanical breakdowns than the standard new-car warranty. To qualify, your car must fall within certain age and mileage ranges; for example, Geico offers coverage for new and leased cars less than 15 months old with under 15,000 miles. When comparing the cost of this insurance to the cost of an extended warranty, remember that if you use the insurance, you'll have to pay a deductible.
  • Rental reimbursement insurance: This coverage pays for or reimburses you for the cost of renting a car while your car is undergoing covered repairs. Farmers Insurance handles it a bit differently, giving you a flat sum to use for any type of transportation, including public transit, taxis or rideshares.
  • Auto insurance for driving in Mexico: U.S. insurance isn't recognized in Mexico, so if you frequently drive south of the border, you'll need car insurance sold by a Mexican company. Esurance is one of many insurers that provide different levels of Mexican car insurance through partner companies.
  • New-car replacement coverage: Because new cars lose much of their value as soon as they leave the lot, having a new car totaled can be a devastating experience. The insurer will pay out the car's value, but that's only a fraction of what the car cost you. Farmers and AAA are among the insurers offering new-car replacement coverage, which replaces your car with a new one of the same make and model if your car is totaled within a certain number of miles or years.
  • Windshield/glass insurance: Getting a crack in your windshield can be a costly nuisance, and as car-makers add more and more technology into windshields, the cost is rising. A replacement windshield for a car with a head-up display or rain-sensing wipers can cost $1,500 or more, according to Kelley Blue Book. Windshield replacement is typically covered by comprehensive insurance, but the cost of deductibles can quickly add up. That's why some insurers now offer windshield-specific coverage. For example, Farmers offers Glass Deductible Buyback, which covers windshield and glass repair or replacement for a $100 deductible, and Full Windshield and Glass Coverage, which covers windshield and glass repair or replacement with no deductible.
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) insurance: If your car is repaired after an accident, standard insurance may only cover the cost of generic parts. OEM insurance covers the cost of using factory-original parts. This coverage is generally limited to relatively new vehicles.
  • Customized equipment insurance: Have you customized your car with the latest sound system, performance boosters or underbody neon lights? Then you may want this insurance, which covers the cost to repair or replace that pricey aftermarket equipment.
  • Pet insurance coverage: Pet owners know how steep vet bills can be. If you're in an accident with your pet in the car and Fido or Fluffy gets injured, insurers including Erie, Metromile and Progressive will cover medical costs for your pet up to a certain amount. Rather than a separate policy, this is generally included in collision coverage.
  • Classic or collectors' car insurance: Typical auto insurance policies won't cover things like specialized restoration, finding antique parts or carefully transporting a collector's car for repairs. Classic car insurance provides for these unique needs. To qualify, your car must meet certain age requirements. You may also need to meet other criteria, like providing secure storage or limiting your driving. You can get this coverage from many companies; however, Hagerty specializes in it and unlike many insurers, covers classic trucks, motorcycles, tractors, military vehicles and more.
  • Umbrella insurance: While it's not car insurance, umbrella insurance (offered by most major insurers) can be a good complement to your auto policy as a way to protect your home and other assets. Usually sold in increments of $1 million of coverage, umbrella insurance offers additional protection in situations where your costs exceed the limits of your car insurance coverage.

Is Less Common Car Insurance Coverage Worth It?

Anytime you add coverage, your premium will rise. To decide if the coverage is worth it, add up the annual cost of the coverage and weigh that against the potential cost of not having insurance.

For example, if you drive for Uber on a regular basis, getting in an accident that's not covered by your or Uber's insurance could mean costly injuries, damage to your car or even lawsuits. Clearly, getting rideshare insurance to protect against this risk is well worth the cost.

As another example, suppose you drive 50 miles round-trip to work each day and shuttle your three kids to and from lessons, soccer practice and playdates after work and on the weekends. If your car were in the shop for 10 to 14 days, how would you get along without it? In such situations, insurance that covers the cost of a rental car can keep your life running smoothly and save you hundreds of dollars.

Before adding extra coverage, find out what's included in your full coverage car insurance. For example, Progressive automatically covers pets against accidents as part of its collision coverage. Also make sure you understand exactly what the specialized coverage includes and what the limitations are, as this can vary from one insurer to another. For instance, if you have rental reimbursement coverage with State Farm and you get in an accident more than 50 miles from home, State Farm will pay for lodging, meals and transportation if necessary, but not all rental reimbursement coverage is as generous.

Talking to an insurance agent to go over your options can help you figure out how much car insurance you need and whether adding less common types of coverage is worth the cost. By tailoring your car insurance to fit your situation, you can get the insurance you need at a price that won't break the bank—and could even save some money in the long run.