Car trouble happens, and it’s never convenient or expected. Batteries fail, alternator belts break, tires go flat, and sometimes people just run out of gas. When your car does fail unexpectedly, you’ll be stuck on the side of the road, late for whatever engagement you were trying to get to, and frustrated with the whole event.
Roadside assistance coverage offers drivers a way to get a helping hand when they need it most. With just a phone call, you can have a tow truck on the way to get your car to a dealer for repair. Not to mention, give you and your family a lift to somewhere safer than the side of the highway.
This guide will cover exactly what roadside assistance is, what it does and does not cover, how much it should cost, and where you can get it. By the time you’re through, you’ll be able to find the perfect coverage to meet your needs.
Understanding Roadside Assistance and Why You Need It
Roadside assistance coverage is a package of services that helps you when you’re having car trouble. Whether you’re on the side of the freeway, in a parking lot, or even in your driveway, these services will send professionals directly to you to lend a hand. Here’s what to know:
- Depending on the nature of your car issues, the experts may try to repair the vehicle and get it moving right away.
- Some examples of this include changing a tire that’s gone flat or jump-starting a dead battery.
- That way, you can drive yourself to an auto repair shop for further help.
- More serious situations — like an overheated engine or faulty alternator — will mean the roadside assistance provider must help you arrange for a tow truck to haul your vehicle somewhere it can get service.
The cost of a tow truck can be prohibitive, so this can save you from a significant financial burden during an already stressful event. Before you go shopping for a roadside assistance plan, let’s discuss what it does and does not cover.
What Does Roadside Assistance Cover?
Coverage plans will vary for each provider, but they will generally cover the cost (less any deductible) of sending a professional to your location to perform basic services on your vehicle to get it back up and running. Here are some examples of services these plans typically cover:
- Towing your car if it can’t be quickly repaired and driven.
- Helping you unlock your car if you lock yourself out.
- Delivering gas if you run out of fuel.
- Jump-starting your battery.
- Changing your tire, including putting on your own spare.
- Extrication or winching your vehicle if it’s stuck in the mud or snow.
These are the most common services covered, but some providers might offer other benefits like glass repair or trip interruption coverage (travel expenses after breaking down far from home).
What Roadside Coverage Does NOT Cover
Your roadside assistance plan won’t cover the cost of any major repairs that your vehicle needs. Rather, these plans only help you get back on the road as quickly as possible so that you can seek more comprehensive auto repair services later.
While many insurance companies offer roadside assistance coverage, it’s not a replacement for auto insurance. It won’t cover damage to your or other drivers’ vehicles resulting from an accident.
How Much Should Roadside Assistance Cost?
Like auto insurance, roadside service plans will vary significantly in cost depending on which provider you choose and how much coverage you need. There are lots of variables that will affect the total price or your plan, for example:
- Mileage limits on how far they will tow the vehicle.
- Limits on how many calls you can make in a year.
- Whether or not the provider will pay for fuel costs.
- Access to additional services like trip interruption, locksmithing, or discounted rental car rates.
For example, AAA offers a basic coverage plan for only $57 a year, but it will only cover towing for 7 miles and doesn’t include locksmithing or fuel delivery. Meanwhile, under the $91 AAA Plus® plan, you can get towed up to 100 miles.
Typically these memberships cost anywhere from $50 to $150 annually, which can be made all at once or in monthly installments. Next, we’re going to talk about where you can get roadside coverage that’s right for you.
Where to Buy Roadside Coverage
First, you’ll want to make sure you don’t already have roadside services available to you. Most auto insurance providers include some basic services in your auto policy. You can take a look at your policy to see what it does and does not offer. If roadside services aren’t covered, or if you want more coverage than your policy provides, there are a few places you can look.
- Your Auto Insurance Provider
Even if your insurance policy doesn’t include any roadside services, you can likely add them by adding a little extra to your premiums. All the major auto insurance providers like Allstate, Geico, Progressive, USAA, and Farmers offer ways for their customers to add additional roadside coverage to their policies.
- Third-Party Coverage
If you don’t want to purchase these services through your insurance company, many third parties will happily serve you at a competitive rate. The most popular is the previously mentioned AAA. They offer a comprehensive package of services at a reasonable annual cost. Of course, a AAA membership is going to be a little bit more costly than adding coverage to your auto policy but comes with a whole mess of other benefits that many drivers find worth the price.
Another option for third-party providers is Better World Club. BWC is America’s only green auto club, offering roadside assistance services with a commitment to being 100% carbon neutral.
Have a Plan – Don’t Get Stuck on the Side of the Road
Whatever option you choose, don’t get stranded on the roadside without a plan for how to get help. Every driver needs a helping hand from time to time, and we hope that we’ve helped you pick a provider and plan that will get you the services you need at the right price.
If you ever do find yourself in a bind, don’t hesitate to give us a call. The team at Geyers Towing is here for you and will come and give you a lift in no time.