Road Hazard Insurance, 21" tires and the end of my patience!

Road Hazard Insurance, 21" tires and the end of my patience!

To those of you considering getting either 21" tires or the road hazard insurance I share the following:

- I'm not a car guy
- I got a P85 with 21" tires because of the promise of extra handling/performance
- I'm thrilled with my MS
- I live in Omaha, NE (Pothole capital of the world.)

While driving to work I deftly avoided a pothole the size of a small car. Smiling and feeling quite smug about my quick reactions I glanced in the rearview mirror to take a look at the tire-eater I just avoided, only to squarely hit a pothole the size of a large car. This happened with a block of work. I limped in, parked, and took a look at the passenger side front tire. It was flat. I had blown out the sidewall.

A bit irritated I took solace in the fact that the week before, based upon what I thought was good advice on the forum, purchased the road hazard insurance. So at least I would not have to pay for the replacement.

Little did I know how quickly things would go from bad to worse. My first call was to Telsa inside service where I learned that I would have to deal with anther company, SENSIO, to deal with the tire reimbursement. Next call, SENSIO. They gave the number of the local tire company they had a relationship with. It happened to be close to work and a company we have dealt with, great! Third call was to the local tire company. They quickly informed me that not only did they not have the tire in stock, they would not order it for me nor if I found one and brought it in would they mount it for me. Really? Yes, really. They did now want the "liability" of damaging the rim. Calls 4-143 (about) were to various tire companies trying to source the tire. No luck, until Tesla, at my request, helped find it, on the internet. OK, not my idea of road hazard insurance support, but I understand that this is a new car, I'm an early adopter. Time to suck it up and order the tire. Then, via a reference from one of the many of the local tire companies that would not do the work, they got me in touch with seemingly the only one in the area willing/able to mount the tire. The tire arrived and thinking my frustrations were coming to a close I called SENSIO to find out what next. That was call 144 through 150. Finally I got them connected to the company doing the mounting of the tire. Now IF the company was a SENSIO partner the company doing the work could bill SENSIO directly and that would be that. But since I HAD to go with an unapproved vendor I would be responsible for submitting the bills for payment. Then I found out that they "might" want to have the tire shipped to them for inspection. Of course, they did. Now I have to get copies of both bills and email to them. I did. Then I had to ship off the tire. Which I did. Not that either of those are huge deals, it is just a few more "pin pricks" on top of a lot of previous "pin pricks". So I'm thinking it's over. Silly me. I then follow up has I have not heard anything. It takes two emails as I don't hear back from the first. I am informed that they received the tire but do not have a record of the bills. So I send them again. One more little "pin prick". Now understand there are two bills, one for the tire, one for the mounting. That's it. No towing, no claim on the rim. Just the tire and the mounting. I receive an email back letting me know that they need me to write on one of the bills, the $40 mounting bill, the VIN number of the car, the claim number, the date of the event, my children's name, social security numbers, and the lyrics of "American Pie", the long version! (Ok, no children information or lyrics, but that is what it felt like.) That is the one that has pushed me over the edge and to send out this warning to all Telsa owners. Beware death by a thousand road hazard pin pricks! There is no way they need that information or can't do it themselves.

In fairness. Everyone at Tesla was great. Everyone at SENSIO was very polite. If you are in an area that has a SENSIO partner that can handle this for you, your experience might be much better.

A few other things to keep in mind. The total submitted in the claim was $370. The tire was $330 (over $600 purchased directly from Tesla) and mounting $40. So I would have to have two more blowouts before I would even break even on the $900 paid for the road hazard. The rim was scuffed but was still functional so it did not qualify for replacement are any financial consideration of any kind. (The main reason I got the road hazard as they are expensive.) The thought of going through this two more times makes me nauseous. Also note that the limit on a single tire claim is $600. So if you were to purchase the tire directly form Tesla you would have some out of pocket cost to make up the difference from the cost of the tire and their single incident limit. Mounting and or towing would also be on your dime.

Lessons Learned
1) If you are a not a "car guy" I would not get the 21"s. I did, not terribly sorry I did, but if I had to do it over again I would not get them. If I had the 19"s it is much more likely that it would have survived my encounter with the pothole.
2) Unless you plan on blowing out a bunch of tires, have a lot more time, and a lot more patience that I do, (I readily admit I have very little free time and not a lot of patience.) I would avoid the road hazard. It would have been better for me just to pay for the tire and move on. Quicker, easier, cheaper.

I don't have a check yet and don't expect to get one for a month or two.

I hope this helps a few of you out there.

Sudre_ | May 15, 2013

New hardware and app wish list.

Front camera with a pothole warning system. :-)

Hope things go better for you.

eAdopter | May 15, 2013

Wow! What a terrible experience.

Has anyone called their insurance company to see if standard auto insurance policies cover wheel damage? I can understand if tires are not covered, but I suspect wheels may be.

In our area, people can submit a claim to the city and be reimbursed for tire/wheel/auto damage if a pothole is the cause. The cities here are liable if streets are not properly maintained and cause damage.

viranjit | May 15, 2013

I have a P85 with 21" wheels and have purchased the tire and wheel insurance. Fortunately, I live in the Bay Area with the Fremont Service Center (attached to the Tesla Factory) within 10 miles from work.

Two weeks ago, I had two punctures two days apart. I was able to drive to the Fremont Service Center and, in both cases, the tires had to be replaced. They had the tires in stock (helps to be attached to the factory) and did all the work, contacting the insurance company, giving them the DOT numbers of the tires removed and replaced etc. I just signed the work order and drove away with the new tires.

For those of you living near a Tesla service center, the very capable Tesla service folk make a big difference in how this insurance gets implemented. I am sorry that @jjs had a bad experience in Omaha and I hope Tesla can mediate between SENSIO and other owners next time. The Fremont service center charged $370 for the tire and $50 for installation, with the total bill being $440 with tax. My $900 has already paid off.


SonomaDriver | May 15, 2013

This is one reason I will not be getting the 21" tires. The run flats get damaged too easily. I've seen that first hand on my current X5.

To be honest, I can't imagine the handling differences between the 19" and 21" to be so massive as to justify the extra $$ and aggravation.

Omaha isn't the only place where the roads are terrible unfortunately, try coming out to beautiful Sonoma County and marvel at roads rated as some of the worst in California. :(

GeekEV | May 15, 2013

I guess that's why they canceled the tire/rim warranty offering for the time being. I'd heard the third-party service was bad...

mrspaghetti | May 15, 2013

I'm starting to think all road hazard insurance is bad. My one experience with it was when I had a blowout in one and a slow leak in another at the same time on my wife's POS BMW. Insurance co. refused to pay for the blowout. What a scam.

DC@Tesla | May 15, 2013

Agree about being careful with the 21 inch tires! Its one virtue is that I am a much more careful driver now.

jjs | May 15, 2013

viranjit - Very glad you had a good experience. I hope others do as well. Nice to see I got bad information on the cost of the tire. (Although the info. came from a Tesla inside sales rep.)

Part of my issue is being so far from a service center and in an area not as familiar with this car/tech.

Thank you for sharing so all can get a balanced view.

viranjit | May 16, 2013

@jjs - hopefully the Tesla folk will improve dealing with SENSIO. Remember that your insurance is still good for years and could still pay off. Who knows, some day Omaha may have a Tesla dealership and your future experience would certainly improve.

My in-laws live in Omaha and we visit them many times a year. It is certainly a big enough city to qualify for a Tesla dealership soon.


Brian H | May 16, 2013

No dealerships, stores. This distinction matters (see NC).

JPPTM | May 16, 2013

FWIW, I live in Northern California, and have done all of my tire buying/alignments etc at a chain called Wheel Works. They will sell you a tire protection plan that covers road hazards (replace/repair the tire), plus free rotation and balancing. I just went in today to add my new Model S with 19" Goodyear OEM tires. Cost me $40/tire. I have always purchased this plan from them, and have always made money on the deal. Over the life of any set of tires I have purchased/driven, I have always had to replace 1 (or sometimes 2) due to non-repairable damage. YMMV.

frankben | September 23, 2013

My advise is don't buy the 21's if you drive in a pot hole prone area. Don't buy the insurance either because they come up with all kinds of excuses not to pay you. i just hit a pothole in the garden state parkway exit in New Jersey. The front right tire side wall gave out and caused the tire to go flat. No tires were available anywhere close to my location. Called Tesla they towed the car to White Plains NY for tire replacement. Then the story really gets bad. Tesla rep calls me and says i need three tires. The two rear tires have bubbles in the side walls. He tells me the tires are covered up to $600.00 each but cost $650.00 each plus some other charges that bring the cost up to $2200.00. No problem change all three and i will pay the difference. However, you must pay first and they submit the claim to Sonsio together with the tires. About two weeks later i get a set of letters from Sonsio with one check for $600.00. They deny the claim on the other two tires saying the DOT numbers don't match the tire on one claim and the other tire is worn out on the side. They are both bald. These tires had about 5000 miles on them and they were not bald, but now that i don't have the tires i can't dispute this. I hope the Tesla rep took pictures before he sent them in. i know they were not bald because i had some other work done on my car about 3 weeks earlier and asked the tech to check my tires because of all the complaints i have read on here about rear tire wear. He looked at them with me and showed me they were still fine. Moral of the story don't buy the insurance they won't pay your claim. Thats probably why Tesla doesn't sell it anymore.

spatel | September 23, 2013

I just bought MS with 21 tires, where do I buy the hazard warranty? since Tesla is not offering any more.

Brian H | September 23, 2013

why did you buy so many tires?

shop | September 24, 2013

Yeah, those third party insurance plans are a pain in the rear end. I bought one once for my cell phone, and used it. That experience taught me never to buy an insurance plan again.

Once I bought tire insurance from a tire shop - blew out a tire and that was an easy replacement since they provided the insurance themselves. BUT when I got my new tires they presented me with a bill anyways, and I asked what are these charges? They were for new insurance on the new tire - turns out the insurance coverage was for the tire, not for a period of time. So a one shot deal. Always something...

mike | September 24, 2013

Word is (from a Service Station), don't get the 21s ;)


shop | September 24, 2013

Aren't there high performance (sticky) 19" tires?

jat | September 24, 2013

@shop - yes, though you get more sidewall flex and less responsive turn-in.