All About Emergency Roadside Assistance Coverage
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Emergency roadside assistance coverage is an optional insurance policy that covers you in certain emergency situations.
Typically, emergency roadside assistance doesn’t add an exorbitant amount to your car insurance policy (say, $20 to $150 per year). However, it can be useful when your vehicle’s battery dies, when you need to change a flat tire, or when you need to get your vehicle towed.
Is emergency roadside assistance coverage worth it? Who are the best roadside assistance coverage providers? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about emergency roadside assistance coverage.
What Is It?
Emergency roadside assistance coverage is labeled under a few different names. GEICO calls it “Emergency Road Service”, for example, while Allstate calls it “24 Hour Roadside Coverage”. Some companies call it “breakdown insurance” or “breakdown coverage.”
In general, roadside assistance insurance plans cover non-accident related problems with your vehicle. If your vehicle’s battery dies in a parking lot, for example, then you might get a free boost from a technician. If your vehicle needs to be towed, winched, or unlocked, then roadside assistance insurance might cover that too.
The basic idea behind roadside assistance insurance is that you get peace of mind for many unexpected events on the road. You call your insurance company’s hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and a representative will dispatch a roadside service professional to your location immediately.
What’s Covered by Emergency Roadside Assistance Insurance?
Emergency roadside assistance insurance covers a wide variety of vehicle problems. The major “restriction” with this coverage is that it doesn’t cover accident-related damages or recovery services. If your vehicle needs to be towed after an accident, for example, then that will not typically fall under roadside assistance coverage.
Here are some of the major services covered by most emergency roadside assistance companies:
If your vehicle needs to be towed, then emergency roadside assistance coverage will typically cover the cost of towing your vehicle to the nearest qualified repair facility. However, once your vehicle is at the repair facility, your roadside assistance insurance will not cover any repairs made to your vehicle, nor will it cover the cost of any parts. It just covers towing.
Does your car need to be pulled out of an area with a motor-powered cable or chain? Winching can help your car escape from mud, snow, water, or sand.
Did your battery die? If so, then roadside assistance coverage will almost always cover the cost of a battery jumpstart. They can dispatch a technician to your address to help get your vehicle back on the road.
Did you run out of gas on the road? Roadside assistance coverage will typically cover fuel deliveries. A technician will arrive at your vehicle with a container of fuel. You won’t need to pay for the technician’s labor or delivery services – but you’ll typically need to pay for the cost of the fuel itself, as that will fall outside of your roadside assistance policy.
Did you lock your keys in your vehicle? Were your keys lost or stolen? If so, then emergency roadside assistance will typically cover the cost of lock-out services. A locksmith can be dispatched to your address to unlock your vehicle. You’re only responsible for covering the cost of replacing your keys.
Flat Tire Change
If you have a flat tire and you need assistance changing the tire, then your insurance may cover the cost of sending a technician to your location. A roadside technician can put the spare tire on your vehicle at the scene and then get you on your way. However, you’ll be responsible for replacing the spare time with a new tire.
Additional Roadside Labor
Typically, about one hour of roadside labor is covered under your roadside assistance plan. If you need labor related to vehicle disablement in any way, then your insurance plan may cover it.
Obviously, policies vary widely among providers. Some emergency roadside assistance plans charge extra for lock-out services, for example. Others cover everything listed above with no additional fees.
How to Request Emergency Roadside Assistance
Having your car break down on the side of the road can be a stressful experience. Fortunately, most insurance companies make it easy to contact roadside assistance. You typically have two options:
- Call your insurance company’s toll-free roadside assistance helpline
- Make a request through your insurance company’s mobile app
Insurance companies always offer a toll-free number. However, a growing number offer mobile apps. Requesting roadside assistance with these mobile apps is as easy as requesting an Uber. You choose your location, then wait for a technician to arrive. Insurance companies have technicians standing by 24/7.
Best Companies for Roadside Assistance Coverage
Most insurance companies offer roadside assistance programs. You can also buy roadside assistance through a third party company – like AAA.
Here are the best companies for roadside assistance coverage.
AAA Classic is priced at $56 per year and offers free towing for 5 miles. If you get locked out of your vehicle, then AAA will also reimburse you $50 for the cost of a locksmith. You can also splurge on AAA’s premium plan, AAA Premier, for $119 per year, which includes 200 miles of free towing – double the distance of competing plans. Overall, AAA offers great value, and it’s no surprise that it’s one of America’s most popular roadside assistance companies.
Allstate Motor Club
Allstate Roadside Advantage is priced at $52 per year, while Allstate Platinum Elite is priced at $99 per year, making Allstate Motor Club’s roadside assistance package one of the cheapest options on this list. You get flat tire assistance, towing, lockout coverage, and fuel delivery, among other services.
Good Sam has something that few other roadside assistance programs offer: unlimited towing. Most roadside assistance programs only guarantee 5 to 100 miles of free towing, after which you have to pay. With Good Sam, that’s not an issue. Good Sam also offers unlimited flat tire repairs, jump starts, fuel delivery, and locksmith services. In exchange for all of these amenities, you’ll pay more for Good Sam than you will with most other roadside assistance programs: the standard plan is priced at $80 per year, while the Platinum plan costs $115.
AARP’s Roadside Assistance program is available to drivers 50 and older. If you just want basic roadside assistance coverage for emergencies, then AARP’s Road ‘n Tow plan, priced at $58 per year, may be the right option. The organization also offers Premier roadside assistance for $74 per year. Users are limited to four service calls per year, although that number rises to five (for married couples) or seven (for families). The Premier tier also has trip interruption service, which reimburses you for up to $1,500 per year to cover hotel, food, and/or car rental costs.
OnStar is available on all GM vehicles. OnStar offers three plans, ranging from $19.99 per month to $34.99 per month, making this one of the priciest roadside assistance plans on this list. In exchange for that high price tag, however, drivers get 24/7 roadside assistance coverage with automatic crash response, crisis assistance, remote access, OnStar Smart Driver, and OnStar AtYourService. The more expensive plans offer turn-by-turn navigation, stolen vehicle slowdown, and other options.
Better World Club
Better World Club offers roadside assistance packages ranging from $57 to $93 per year. Roadside assistance is also available for vehicles, bicycles, and cars. Better World Club markets itself as an eco-friendly roadside assistance program, and the organization claims to be more eco-friendly than many of its corporate competitors on this list.
National Motor Club (NMC)
National Motor Club, or NMC, has served drivers across the United States and Canada for over 70 years. The company has 1 million members, with plans ranging from $6.50 to $20 per month. Basic roadside assistance with gas delivery and towing is available on all plans, while higher-priced plans can offer rental car discounts, travel reimbursement, and legal assistance.
Paragon Motor Club
Paragon Motor Club offers two roadside assistance plans, including the Classic Roadside and Advantage plans, priced at $69.95 to $84.95 per year. Paragon Motor Club serves drivers across the United States and Canada, with the basic plan covering towing up to 15 miles.
National General Motor Club
Formerly known as GM Motor Club, National General Motor Club offers roadside assistance to all drivers, including anyone who drives non-GM vehicles. You get coverage for fuel delivery, towing, jumpstarts, and tire changes, among other services.
AutoVantage subscribers get coverage for themselves and their immediate family. Roadside assistance covers towing, fuel delivery, dead battery service, flat tire service, lockout services, and other roadside assistance plans. Drivers are restricted to three calls per year. AutoVantage roadside assistance works best for families with multiple drivers, as all drivers in the family can easily be added to a single plan, with plans priced at $89.99 per year.
Conclusion: Is Roadside Assistance Worth It?
Are you the type of person who can change a spare time on the side of a crowded freeway without getting too stressed out? Do you know how to jumpstart a dead battery? Do you carry jumper cables or towing cables with you? Do you know friends with trucks who can get you out of a snowy ditch in a blizzard? Do you live in a wintry climate?
Depending on your answers to these questions, roadside assistance may or may not be worth it. In general, it provides valuable peace of mind for as little as $20 to $50 per year added to your annual car insurance bill.