Mechanical Breakdown Insurance - Do You Need It?

Maria Sanchez
Written by
Maria Sanchez
Photo of an Insurify author
Written by
Maria Sanchez
Insurance Writer
Maria Sanchez is a personal finance writer specializing in auto, home, and renters insurance. With a special interest in educational content, Maria distills complex financial information to be more accessible to the greater public. She holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts and the London School of Economics.
Jackie Cohen
Edited by
Jackie Cohen
Photo of an Insurify author
Edited by
Jackie Cohen
Editorial Manager
Jackie Cohen is an editorial manager at Insurify specializing in property & casualty insurance educational content. She has years of experience analyzing insurance trends and helping consumers better understand their insurance coverage to make informed decisions about their finances.Jackie's work has been cited in USA Today, The Balance, and The Washington Times.

Updated June 15, 2022

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Why you can trust Insurify

Insurify is America's highest-rated insurance comparison platform. We partner with the nation's top insurance companies and are licensed as an agent in all 50 states. However, the insurance experts writing our content operate independently of our partners, and you can learn more about how we make money by viewing our advertising disclosures. Also check out reviews from over 3,000 satisfied customers, our data methodology, and our editorial standards.

The beauty of having insurance is that you have the peace of mind of knowing you are protected when an accident happens. Unfortunately, your car breaking down—or any other mechanical problem—is not typically covered under a standard car insurance policy. If you want insurance coverage for unexpected car trouble, consider mechanical breakdown insurance.

If you want a great deal on your car insurance policy, look no further than Insurify. Whether you’re looking for something as specific as an MBI policy or as broad as homeowners insurance, we’ve got you covered. Get started in just a few minutes, compare car insurance quotes from the best insurance companies in the country.

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Quick Facts

  • It is not legally required to have MBI. It is just an optional add-on to your standard policy.

  • MBI covers unexpected breakdowns, not routine maintenance or normal wear and tear.

  • Do your research. MBI isn’t offered by every insurance company, and not all cars qualify.

Mechanical Breakdown Insurance: The Basics

What is mechanical breakdown insurance

Mechanical breakdown insurance, also known as MBI, covers issues usually excluded from basic insurance policies, like brake, transmission, and other system issues.

Mechanical breakdown insurance, also known as car repair insurance, is an optional add-on to your auto insurance policy to make sure you’re covered if your car unexpectedly breaks down or needs mechanical or electrical repair. This is similar to an extended car warranty. Most car insurance policies don’t cover the cost of repairs and focus on damage from accidents instead.

In most cases, you will have to pay a deductible if you file a claim. However, unlike the usual cons of filing a claim, using your MBI typically will not raise your premium. Also, note that MBI coverage isn’t the same across all insurers—coverage plans vary from company to company, so be sure to check your coverage options and what can be covered by reimbursement.

Typical MBI Coverages

  • Engine

  • Exhaust

  • Fuel systems

  • Transmission

  • Electrical systems

  • Steering components

  • Cooling systems

In addition, MBI might even have other perks, like roadside assistance. So if your car unexpectedly breaks down due to a mechanical failure, you might be covered if towing is included in your policy. However, you should also check with your insurance provider to see if there are any exclusions because there are a number of repairs that MBI will not cover.

Typical MBI Exclusions

  • Normal wear and tear: A regular tire change or corrosion and rust are to be expected with having a car over time

  • Routine maintenance: Replacing brake pads, maintaining your air conditioning, and getting tire rotations, tune-ups, and oil changes are all a part of car ownership.

  • Damage resulting from a car accident: Your standard auto insurance policy should help with this.

  • Damage due to poor maintenance: MBI won’t cover you if you failed to get an oil change or accidentally put the wrong fuel in your car.

  • Pre-existing damage before you bought MBI

  • Parts covered by a pre-existing car warranty, recall, or manufacturer repair program

  • Non-mechanical or aesthetic items, like vehicle trim

MBI Eligibility

In addition to exclusions, your car might not even be eligible for MBI at all. Typically, MBI works to service new cars or ones with low mileage. New vehicles are usually already protected by a factory or manufacturer’s warranty for a certain number of miles or years. You need to buy MBI while your car’s warranty is still valid, so know that you will need to extend coverage.

See More: Best Car Insurance Companies

Mechanical Breakdown Insurance vs. Extended Warranty

Mechanical breakdown insurance coverage is very similar to getting an extended warranty, but there are pros and cons. One of the main benefits of an MBI over an extended warranty is that MBI can be a bit cheaper, unless your car breaks down frequently. This is because MBI has a higher deductible, so if your car has problems often, you’ll be left with more out-of-pocket costs.

Similar to a vehicle service contract or plan, MBI can be purchased through your auto insurance company. If you prefer to pay in installments, MBI is a good option because it is just added to an existing insurance policy at a low recurring cost. Alternatively, extended warranties are usually sold by dealerships, manufacturers, and third-party companies.

Here’s a quick comparison of MBI and an extended warranty:

Mechanical Breakdown InsuranceExtended Warranty
Can pay in installments as you go; up-front cost is typically around $100 annuallyWarranty companies require you to pay the entire amount of coverage up front, typically around $2,000 to $4,000
More options for repair facilities and where you take your car for repairsRepair shops are limited to certain mechanics and garages
Not all cars are eligible for MBI, like high-value cars or cars with mileage over 15,000Better accessibility; a wider range of cars can get coverage from a warranty, including used cars from a dealership
You need to pay your standard car insurance deductible if you file a claim, typically around $250Pay a relatively small deductible, typically less than $100
Coverage is limited to seven years or 100,000 milesCoverage can last from 2 to 7 years

See More: Car Insurance Quotes

Insurance Companies That Offer MBI

Mechanical breakdown insurance is not offered by all insurance companies. Unlike standard offerings like comprehensive coverage or collision coverage, MBI is not as commonly needed, especially since new cars often come with a manufacturer’s warranty.

Out of the insurers that do provide this type of coverage, here are some of our top picks:

GEICO

Perhaps the largest or most well-known insurer to offer this coverage, GEICO MBI is still choosy in that it only applies to cars that are less than 15 months old and have fewer than 15,000 miles on the odometer. Customers have the ease and option to get coverage through an online quote form and can renew it for up to seven years or 100,00 miles (whichever comes first).

Mercury

A smaller company, Mercury’s Mechanical Protection plan is a bit broader and accepts a wider range of cars, as long as they are still under warranty. It also lasts a bit longer than other insurance companies’ offerings.

Allstate

ts Vehicle Service Contract is a relatively cheaper option that still covers a wide range of items to be reimbursed.

Other companies that offer MBI: Progressive, 21st Century, American Family, AAA

Cost of Mechancal Breakdown Insurance

How much mechanical breakdown insurance will cost you also depends on a number of different factors that take your vehicle, your driving history, and more into account. In addition, as with most insurance products, the cost of mechanical breakdown insurance will also vary across companies. Typically, adding MBI to your policy costs around $50 to $100 per year.

Here are some factors that help determine how much it will cost to add MBI to your pre-existing auto insurance policy:

  • Age of your vehicle: most cars need to be under three years old to qualify for MBI

  • Mileage: for example, GEICO will not accepts cars with more than 15,000 miles

  • Vehicle year, make, and model, including number of high-tech components: some higher-value cars are not eligible for MBI, as the cost of repairs differs significantly

  • Whether you bought the car from a third-party provider instead of a dealership

  • Your pre-existing level of auto insurance coverage and driving history

In addition, you have to buy MBI coverage while your new car is still under its warranty, which typically lasts for around three years. New cars already have coverage for mechanical repairs under the manufacturer’s warranty, so MBI just acts as an extension of that. It is likely that you will pay for your MBI add-on even before you start using it.

Alternatively, you can choose to opt for a vehicle service contract instead of an MBI policy. You can also buy this from your insurance provider. These contracts tend to be a bit pricier than MBI, but you can buy coverage at any time, which is helpful if your manufacturer warranty has already expired or you do not want to pay for mechanical breakdown costs too early.

See More: Cheap Car Insurance

Mechanical Breakdown Insurance: Is it worth it?

All in all, MBI can seem like a great way to make sure you aren’t stuck paying for your car’s surprise breakdown out of pocket. However, for this coverage add-on to really pay itself off, you would need to have a repair that costs more than your MBI plan and deductible combined. At the end of the day, it is all up to you and your own risk assessment of your car.

Whatever you choose, Insurify is here to help you find the best deals and policies that tailor specifically to your needs. Whether you need MBI, collision coverage, or anything else, we’re here to help you compare quotes from hundreds of companies to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need at a rate you can afford. All it takes is a few minutes to get your free quote!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Each insurance company has its own set of requirements when issuing an MBI policy. There is no standard set of rules for which cars do or do not qualify. However, the two most important factors you should consider are your vehicle’s age and mileage. Most insurers only accept newer models before their warranties have expired with a low number of miles on the odometer.

  • Although mechanical breakdown insurance works similarly to an extended warranty, they are not the same. The main differences are that MBI allows you to pay in installments, you buy it as an add-on from your insurer, you have more options for where to get your car serviced, there is stricter eligibility and limited coverage, and you need to pay your deductible when filing a claim.

  • Unfortunately, probably not. Most vehicles eligible for MBI coverage are either new or leased under 15 months old and with less than 15,000 miles on the odometer. Even if you have a new car, you need to buy MBI coverage when your car’s warranty is still valid, which is usually up until three years or so after purchasing it. MBI is helpful but has strict eligibility requirements.

  • Like all insurance products, mechanical breakdown insurance is there to help you in case the unexpected happens. Driving with peace of mind shouldn’t break the bank. Insurify has you covered to help you find high-quality policies at rates you can afford. Just take a few minutes to customize your profile, and we’ll show you side-by-side comparisons of quotes—all for free!

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  • Data scientists at Insurify analyzed over 40 million auto insurance rates across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how their car insurance premiums are priced by companies.

Maria Sanchez
Written by
Maria Sanchez

Insurance Writer

Maria Sanchez is a personal finance writer specializing in auto, home, and renters insurance. With a special interest in educational content, Maria distills complex financial information to be more accessible to the greater public. She holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts and the London School of Economics.

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Jackie Cohen
Edited by
Jackie Cohen
Linkedin

Editorial Manager

Photo of an Insurify author
Edited by
Jackie Cohen
Editorial Manager
Jackie Cohen is an editorial manager at Insurify specializing in property & casualty insurance educational content. She has years of experience analyzing insurance trends and helping consumers better understand their insurance coverage to make informed decisions about their finances.Jackie's work has been cited in USA Today, The Balance, and The Washington Times.