Roadside Assistance: Where to Get It, What to Ask

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If you have a flat or run out of gas, roadside assistance is available. Before you buy, here are some things to remember.

It happens every time — you are almost at your next appointment when gas runs out or you have a flat tire. In both cases, roadside assistance is available. The service might be available for you already free of charge.

Roadside assistance covers drivers who can’t get their vehicle back on the road. Roadside assistance can help you get out of any emergency, whether you’ve lost your keys, run out of gas, or need your car to be towed.

What is roadside assistance?

Roadside services can vary depending on which company you work for, but they often include:

  • Towing
  • How to change a flat tire
  • Fuel delivery.
  • Locksmith services
  • Jump-start battery
  • Winching is the act of pulling a car using a rope or chain if it gets stuck in snow, ice, or mud.

You typically pay a monthly, or even an annual fee to have roadside assistance coverage. You can also get help at no additional charge or at a discounted rate if you have a roadside assistance plan.

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You can also choose to pay per incident for roadside assistance. You don’t have to pay every month, regardless of whether you use the service. Instead, you can only pay for what you actually need.

How to choose a roadside assistance program

You might be eligible for roadside assistance through:

  • Car insurance company
  • Membership in AAA and other organizations
  • Manufacturer of cars.
  • Provider of cell phones
  • Credit card company.

While some options may be more expensive than others, don’t let cost dictate your decision. You should ask these questions because not all roadside assistance plans will be the same.

What is the cost of this plan? Are there additional fees?

Roadside assistance costs anywhere from $5 to $100 per year, or it could be a free perk offered by your credit card company or manufacturer.

There may be additional charges beyond the base price for some services. Your plan may cover fuel delivery, but you will need to pay for gas. Some policies limit how many manual labor hours a vehicle can be tow before charging an additional fee.

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How many service claims are you allowed to make each year?

Some policies cover unlimited service calls but most will only cover four claims per calendar year. You can usually get assistance by paying an additional fee after that. Some companies may not offer roadside assistance coverage if you have multiple claims.

What if you aren’t in your car?

Insurance companies and car manufacturers typically provide service based upon the vehicle, but AAA membership organizations cover the individual. You can also call AAA for assistance if your friend’s vehicle breaks down while you are on the ride.

Is the policy applicable to other people?

Members organizations often allow you to add family members for an additional charge. Certain plans offered by cell phone companies offer coverage that is based on who has the enrolled mobile device. If your friend borrows your enrolled phone and requires roadside assistance, you would be covered, even if they are not present.

What effect will service claims have on your car insurance rates

Your rates could be affected if you make too many claims to your auto insurance company for roadside assistance coverage. Your rates won’t rise as long as you only use the plan for minor emergencies. Farmers and State Farm spokespersons note that an increase in emergency road claims may be considered a risk and could lead to a rate rise.

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If you get roadside assistance from another source (such as AAA or a credit-card company), your car insurance rates will not be affected.

Where can I get roadside assistance?

You should think about where you would like to purchase a roadside assistance policy. Below are several options to help you choose the best method for you.

Auto insurance company

Auto insurers generally offer roadside assistance as an optional coverage, but it may be available only if you buy comprehensive and collision insurance. Some plans, such as State Farm’s roadside assistance, provide unlimited coverage while others pay only for four incidents per year.

Although not all insurance companies offer roadside assistance coverage, there are many that do.

  • Allstate: You can add roadside assistance to your insurance policy starting at $25 a year per car. There are two options available if you don’t have an Allstate membership or want additional services. They range from $79 to $139 per year. The policy covers three to five service calls per year, depending on the level of membership. Allstate offers a pay per use option, starting at $119 per tow.
  • Erie: Coverage costs about $5 a year per car and is available only if you have comprehensive or collision insurance. The benefits include towing to the nearest garage and a 20-mile limit.
  • Farmers: Coverage costs vary by state and policy, with no set limit on the number of service calls. You can get towing for up to $150.
  • Geico: Roadside assistance starts at $14 a year per car, including lockout services up to $100.
  • Progressive: Coverage includes benefits such as towing services anywhere within 15 miles or to the nearest repair facility.
  • State Farm: Roadside assistance costs about $8 a year per car, with no limit to emergency service calls. State Farm also offers coverage that pays per incident.
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AAA and other AAA member organizations

Although membership organizations are more expensive than other options for roadside assistance, they offer benefits that you won’t get with other plans. AAA and Better World Club members can receive emergency road benefits and perks such as assistance booking travel, discounts on hotel, car rental, and movie tickets.

AAA and Better World Club have different membership levels. Better World Club is a membership tier that focuses on environmental-friendly values. It costs $58.95 per year for a basic plan, and $97.95 per year for a premium plan. AAA membership costs differ depending on tier and location, but pricing can range from around $50 to more than $165 a year.

These plans usually include four service calls per annum, but the exact number may vary depending on which company you belong to and what membership level you are. Each company allows you to add family members for an additional fee.

AAA and Better World Club don’t offer roadside assistance. If you are a recreational vehicle owner and prefer camping discounts over travel, Good Sam Club might be the right fit. Good Sam provides auto-only coverage starting at $49.95 per year and offers packages for RV and auto ranging from $64.95 up to $119.95.

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Manufacturer of cars

If you recently bought a vehicle, you may have roadside assistance coverage. Some car manufacturers automatically include it when you buy a new car. The coverage is typically limited to a specific number of years or miles. Here are some examples.

Mobile phone company

Some cell phone companies, such as AT&T and Verizon, offer emergency road service coverage.

Verizon plan costs $3 a month per phone line for four claims a year. The service you use will determine the maximum benefit per incident. Winching, for example, is available up to a $100 limit. You’ll be charged $89.95 per incident if you are a Verizon customer and don’t have an Emergency Roadside Plan.

AT&T charges $2.99 a month for coverage, and the first month is free. There are four service events per year and a maximum benefit of $75 per incident.

Signature Motor Club, an Allstate subsidiary, provides roadside assistance. Anyone can use the service if they have their enrolled device.

Company that issues credit cards

You may already be eligible for roadside assistance if you have a Mastercard credit card or Visa credit card. These cards may offer pay-per-incident coverage. This means that you will pay for each use of the service, but you won’t have to pay anything if you don’t use it. This type of roadside assistance is free. However, there might be an annual charge for the credit card.

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Visa and Mastercard offer roadside delivery at different rates depending on which card you have. For example, Visa Signature credit cards generally charge $69.95 per incident, with no limit to how many times you use it.

Are you in need of roadside assistance?

It is up to you whether or not you decide to purchase a roadside service plan. You might not need the additional protection if you drive a short distance or are covered automatically by your credit card company or car manufacturer. If you don’t use roadside assistance often, you may be able to pay out of your own pocket.

Depending on your circumstances, an emergency road service plan may be able to ease anxiety and help you save money over the long-term. If you are in the following situations, it might be worth it:

  • Plan your next road trip.
  • You want the added benefits that a membership organization provides.
  • Long commute.
  • You can have a more old car.
  • You prefer the ease of coverage.
  • You don’t know much about service garages and car mechanics.
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