Does the thought of changing a flat tire along a busy road fill you with dread? Do you want to protect yourself and other drivers in your household from being stranded by a broken down car? Would you even know where to call to get towing?
Purchasing emergency roadside assistance car insurance can be an affordable way to make sure help will be on the way when you need it. But your car insurance company isn’t the only potential source of roadside help. Read our guide below to understand how roadside assistance insurance works and what the alternatives are.
Adding roadside assistance to your car insurance generally costs only a few dollars per month, but if you own more than one car, you’ll need to pay a separate premium for each car. Since coverage applies to the vehicle, it protects anyone driving that car but generally will not cover you when you’re driving another vehicle.
Roadside assistance insurance generally includes the following benefits:
- Towing. Your insurance company will pay for a tow within certain limits. Sometimes there is a mileage limit, or they will only tow to the nearest repair shop. Sometimes there is a limit on the cost of the tow instead.
- Changing a tire. If you have a flat tire, someone will be dispatched to mount your spare tire (if your car has one). Many newer cars don’t have spare tires and will have a tire inflation kit or run-flat tires instead. Roadside assistance cannot provide a spare tire if your car does not have one.
- Locksmith services. If you are locked out, or you lose or damage your keys, your insurer will dispatch a locksmith.
- Fuel delivery.When you run out of gas, you can get fuel delivered to get you back on the road. This sometimes covers other fluids like oil or coolant.
- Jump start. If your car has a dead battery, you can get a jump start.
- Vehicle extrication. Some but not all roadside assistance insurance plans will help free your car if it’s stuck in snow, ice or mud.
Some car insurance companies offer different levels of roadside assistance coverage. For an additional premium cost, you may be able to purchase coverage for longer-distance tows or for travel interruption benefits that will help with expenses if you’re stranded away from home.
In addition, Allstate offers its customers a choice between roadside assistance and an auto club. The Allstate Motor Club covers roadside assistance and offers additional benefits similar to those provided by AAA. Several plans are offered, with fees that range from $52/year to $186/year. Benefits can include the following:
- Discounts on travel-related services and purchases
- Discounts on hotel and car rentals
- Travel planning
- Legal and arrest bond services
- Travel interruption services and reimbursement
You may already have access to several other roadside assistance services through your car’s manufacturer, credit card, or phone service provider.
Credit Card Providers
Most credit cards will help dispatch roadside assistance to you when you’re stuck. You’ll be charged for any assistance, according to the base level of benefits provided by the major card networks, but it tends to be a flat, predictable fee. You also benefit from the convenience of calling your credit card’s toll free number instead of having to find a local towing company or mechanic.
Some cards with more generous benefits may not charge a fee for roadside services. Check with your bank to understand what your card provides.
Your Car’s Manufacturer
Most new cars as well as many manufacturer-certified used cars come with a warranty that includes standard roadside assistance. Roadside assistance can often be extended after the initial period expires.
Cell Phone Companies
AT&T and Verizon both offer basic roadside assistance coverage for an additional $3 per month. Coverage only extends to the primary account holder.This isn't currently available from Sprint or T-Mobile, but smaller wireless providers may offer similar options.
Some auto clubs don’t cost much more than roadside assistance but offer a higher level of service. For example, AAA – which has been around long enough to have insured horseless carriages – offers plans starting at less than $5/month with an impressive network and a proven record. In fact many other clubs work through AAA’s service network. Other well reviewed auto clubs include Good Sam, Better World Club, and AARP’s auto club.
If you want the peace of mind offered by an emergency roadside assistance plan, there are many options available to you.
Start by finding out what your insurance company offers, but make sure to compare that to other products such as auto clubs and to perks you may already have from your auto manufacturer and credit cards.