Roadside assistance plans are optional add-ons to mandatory vehicle insurance coverage, and buying roadside assistance insurance can save you money and make your life easier and safer. But not everyone needs one or wants one of these plans.
Most auto insurance companies offer roadside assistance plans, and companies such as credit cards and the American Automobile Association (AAA) also provide roadside assistance services separate from vehicle insurance packages.
While each plan is different, all policies cover a similar list of emergency roadside services, including towing, dead battery service, and help with vehicle lockouts.
Types of Roadside Assistance Companies and Plans
Auto insurance companies often provide roadside assistance to customers as an add-on to other vehicle insurance coverage. The insurance company then works with roadside assistance service companies who provide the actual on-site help to drivers.
When you call for assistance, the dispatcher typically contacts the nearest roadside assistance company with the services you need who also has a contract with your insurance provider.
Other types of organizations also provide roadside assistance plans. AAA is a private, nationwide member association and federation of automobile clubs in North America, providing roadside assistance insurance, vehicle insurance, and maps. Individuals can join for roadside assistance for an annual fee of about $100.
Some credit cards, such as American Express, include a roadside assistance plan in their membership benefits package, and new vehicles are often covered for roadside emergencies by the auto manufacturer for a period of time after purchase.
What Roadside Assistance Plans Cover
Each plan is different, and buyers of roadside emergency plans should read the coverage carefully to make sure they are selecting the best plan for their needs. Most plans include minor repairs or adjustments to the vehicle if it is stalled as well as:
- Battery Jump
- Flat Tire Assistance
- Lockout Services
- Fuel Delivery
- Winching Services
Each plan specifies how many annual service calls, miles of towing, and costs for lockouts and other services are included for the yearly price. If additional services are needed, the company still provides assistance then sends a bill for overages.
Considerations Before Buying a Roadside Assistance Plan
Not everyone needs or wants a roadside assistance plan. Here are some points to consider when deciding if one of these plans is right for you:
- Age of Vehicle: Older cars are more likely to break down and need towing. New car owners are less likely to use roadside service for towing.
- Mileage and Commuting Distances: If you commute or travel much for work or pleasure, you are more likely to need roadside assistance at some point.
- Personal Needs: Some people have no problem changing a flat tire or flagging down a motorist for a jump start. Other people need or prefer assistance in case of these types of roadside emergencies.
- Cost: Roadside assistance insurance is usually not very expensive, but it does cost something. Price is a factor for some people.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to get a roadside assistance plan is up to you and your budget.