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MBI for Older Cars: Is It Possible and What Are the Benefits?

BY: David Goldberg
Older cars in a dealer lot

Owning an older car has many advantages. One is no (or low) car payments, and another is not having to worry as much about the effects of depreciation. Cheaper insurance is an additional perk. An older ride may also have some sentimental value. Yet, for all these strong points, one factor is inescapable with an aging vehicle: the increased likelihood of a breakdown and surprise repair bills.

Fortunately, California drivers have access to mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI). MBI is a type of vehicle protection plan that covers repairs for mechanical failures. While this coverage sounds similar to the extended car warranty programs you may see advertised, MBI has special meaning in the Golden State because it’s a highly regulated insurance product.

Keep reading as we explore what mechanical breakdown insurance brings to California car owners with older vehicles.

What Is Mechanical Breakdown Insurance?

Getting an overview of mechanical breakdown insurance, sometimes called car repair insurance, is the starting point for California drivers concerned about the dependability of their older cars. To begin with, MBI is overseen by the California Department of Insurance (CDI). So, unlike other states where it’s easier to sell extended warranties (also called vehicle service contracts or auto protection plans), MBI providers have to jump through several regulatory hurdles.

In addition to being licensed as an insurance business, an MBI company has to meet specific financial standards to ensure claims will be paid. Further, the CDI reviews all MBI rates and even regulates the terminology used in MBI contracts to ensure consumers understand what they buy.

MBI plans vary from essential protection for the powertrain (engine, transmission, and drive axles) to more comprehensive coverage that includes electrical components and complex electronics like infotainment systems. Some MBI providers, including Endurance Warranty, offer exclusionary programs, which are similar to the bumper-to-bumper protection provided by a new car warranty.

It’s vital to know that MBI protects against the failure of certain vehicle mechanical systems and is not the traditional auto insurance (like a liability or collision policy) you’d buy from Allstate, Geico, Mercury, Progressive, or other car insurance companies. Further, MBI doesn’t cover routine maintenance services such as tune-ups and oil changes. Further, MBI doesn’t cover routine maintenance services such as tune-ups and oil changes, nor does it pay for components that deteriorate through regular use. Examples include tires, brake pads, and wiper blades.

Eligibility Criteria for Older Cars

The idea behind mechanical breakdown insurance is to bring peace of mind to a car owner whose factory warranty has expired. This confidence doesn’t last long, with many mainstream auto brands offering only three years or 36,000 miles of protection. To make matters worse, new cars are having twice as many problems today compared to 2010, according to a report from NewAtlas.com. This trend doesn’t bode well for aging vehicles.

However, MBI removes much of the worry because these plans are designed to support older cars. Each MBI provider sets its own age and mileage standards. In the case of Endurance, the company divides its MBI programs into two categories. Newer cars are eligible if they are up to 48 months old and haven’t exceeded 50,000 miles. Coverage for older vehicles is even more generous: up to 120 months and 150,000 miles.

5 Benefits of MBI for Aging Vehicles

As mentioned, the older a car gets, the greater the chance it will need repairs. There’s no escaping age, as even cars with solid reputations for reliability are vulnerable to a part that fails due to a defect in workmanship or materials. This ongoing possibility underscores the value of mechanical breakdown insurance.

There are numerous advantages to car repair insurance. Here are some offered through Endurance’s MBI programs in California:

  1. Financial Protection: An MBI plan creates greater financial certainty by protecting against unexpected trips to the repair shop. Knowing the cost of coverage upfront, including any deductibles, makes car ownership more predictable and budget-friendly. For many, paying a set monthly premium is preferred over a surprise, wallet-draining repair bill.
  2. Customizable Coverage: Endurance offers three core MBI programs in California: Standard, Premium, and Elite Plus. These options enable car owners to select the type of protection that best matches their needs and budget.
  3. Optional Coverage: The Endurance MBI plans can be further individualized through different available coverage upgrades. For instance, Endurance offers critical emissions coverage that can be added to any MBI plan. This add-on is vital due to California’s strict anti-pollution focus. Car owners can also cover their commercial-use vehicles, including autos used for rideshare and delivery services. There are also options for vehicles with lift kits, oversized tires, and other modifications.
  4. Choice of Repair Facility: Like all of Endurance’s offerings, its MBI programs enable car owners to choose from any licensed repair facility, including ASE Certified mechanics. This flexibility ensures you can enjoy the convenience of a neighborhood repair shop or the technical expertise of a dealership.
  5. Roadside Assistance: All Endurance MBI programs include comprehensive support, such as 24/7 roadside assistance, which provides towing reimbursement. Plan holders also receive rental car reimbursement and trip interruption protection. See the service contract for complete details.

Cost-Effectiveness of MBI for Older Cars

Arguably, the most significant benefit of MBI coverage for an older car is the plan’s cost-effectiveness compared to the price of major vehicle repairs. This becomes more evident with each passing month as repair costs tend to rise with age. What once might have only involved routine transmission maintenance, for example, now becomes a substantial repair costing thousands of dollars to fix. The same could apply to the engine.

In contrast, MBI premiums are generally more affordable, especially when spread out as monthly payments. Look at it this way: paying for MBI protects key vehicle components, while paying for a major repair still leaves the car and your wallet vulnerable to future problems.

Common Misconceptions About MBI for Older Vehicles

It’s natural for some car owners to have doubts about a mechanical breakdown insurance policy. So, let’s clear up any confusion by addressing some common misconceptions.

Concern: “MBI won’t cover my car because it’s too old.”

Solution: As highlighted earlier, many MBI providers, including Endurance, offer plans specifically designed for older vehicles. If your car meets the eligibility criteria, you can secure this type of coverage.

Concern: “MBI is too expensive for my older car.”

Solution: While MBI isn’t a one-size-fits-all program because each car is different, premiums are often more affordable than people assume. Plus, all it takes is the savings from being covered for one major repair to reinforce the value of MBI coverage.

Concern: “MBI won’t cover the most important parts of my aging car.”

Solution: Even Endurance’s most affordable MBI plan covers the powertrain. Often, repairs involving the engine, transmission, and driveline can cost thousands, but MBI protection extends to these critical areas. For those looking for broader coverage, an exclusionary program covers most vehicle components except for specific exemptions.

How MBI Extends Vehicle Life and Performance

Car owners who like to keep their vehicles as long as possible will appreciate the value that MBI brings to the table. In particular, by covering mechanical failures, MBI ensures older cars receive necessary repairs to keep them running smoothly.

MBI also has a role in basic maintenance, which includes services that preserve the lifespan of any vehicle. However, the cost of these services can sometimes be a barrier for owners of older cars. With MBI, you can have peace of mind knowing that covered repairs will be taken care of, allowing you to also budget for upkeep costs. In other words, setting aside funds for MBI premiums and maintenance expenses provides a more comprehensive approach to preserving your car than just budgeting for significant repairs.

MBI from Endurance: Tailored for Older Cars

Endurance had older cars in mind when it launched its California MBI program in 2023. With plans available for vehicles up to 10 years old and 150,000 miles, owners of aging automobiles have options.

  • Endurance Standard MBI: This essential MBI plan protects the powertrain (engine, transmission, drive axles, and powertrain) and other core components like the electrical system, suspension, air conditioning, steering, and brakes (it excludes consumable parts like the pads and rotors). The Standard Plan is stated component coverage, which defines everything that’s protected up front.
  • Endurance Premium MBI: The Premium Plan expands on the Standard MBI program by covering more components, such as additional electrical parts, fuel delivery and cooling systems, and luxury electronics.
  • Endurance Elite Plus MBI: This exclusionary MBI plan covers most vehicle systems and components. Endurance Elite Plus MBI is similar to a factory bumper-to-bumper warranty, with a small number of exclusions specified in the service agreement.

If help is needed with covered repairs, Endurance steps in with benefits to lessen the hassle of a breakdown, including:

MBI FAQs

Still need to know more about mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI)? Here are answers to common questions.

How does MBI differ from an extended warranty?

In California, mechanical breakdown insurance is regulated by the California Department of Insurance. On the other hand, extended warranties are not available in California unless purchased through a licensed car dealer. MBI provides similar coverage to an extended auto warranty by covering the cost of repairs but with the added security of being regulated by the state.

Can I choose any repair shop or mechanic with MBI?

With Endurance MBI, you can take your vehicle to any licensed repair shop or ASE Certified mechanic for covered repairs. One of the “worth it” benefits of MBI is the flexibility to choose your preferred repair facility or mechanic.

Is there a waiting period before MBI coverage begins?

Yes, most mechanical breakdown coverage plans have a waiting period. For Endurance MBI customers, this means coverage begins after 30 days or 1,000 miles.

Are there any additional benefits included with Endurance MBI plans?

Yes, Endurance includes perks like 24/7 roadside assistance with fuel delivery, lockout services, towing reimbursement, trip interruption protection, and rental car reimbursement.

What is the difference between powertrain coverage and exclusionary coverage?

A powertrain plan, like Endurance Standard MBI, covers your vehicle’s most essential components, such as the engine, transmission, and drivetrain. This is known as stated component coverage, which lists what parts are protected if repairs are required. Exclusionary coverage, such as Endurance Elite Plus MBI, is more comprehensive and safeguards most of your car’s components except the ones specifically listed as excluded. Endurance offers both options, enabling California drivers to choose a protection level that balances their needs and budgets.

How do I file a claim if I have an MBI policy?

Each company has a different process, but Endurance has a straightforward one. Endurance MBI customers can make a claim over the phone or via email. Another option is using the Endurance smartphone app for even quick service.

You’ll need to provide breakdown details and select a repair facility. Endurance will then work with the shop to authorize the covered repairs and pay the facility directly, minimizing your out-of-pocket expenses. Your only responsibility for covered repairs is to pay any deductible directly to the repair shop.

Endurance Keeps Older Vehicles On the Road Longer

For owners of used cars and older vehicles in California, mechanical breakdown insurance provides a valuable opportunity to protect their cars and wallets from surprise repair bills. Endurance offers a range of MBI plans designed with the needs of older vehicles and their owners in mind. Securing MBI coverage has never been easier, while convenient payment options, additional benefits, and flexible repair facility choices add more value.

Explore your MBI options today by requesting a FREE online quote or calling (800) 253-8203 to speak with an Endurance policy advisor. Reading the Endurance blog, you can also learn more about mechanical breakdown insurance. The comprehensive library of articles also offers expert advice on car repairs, DIY maintenance, insurance, vehicle reviews, and more.

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