What is roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance coverage is an essential tool for most drivers. Roadside services help motorists get back on the road when faced with a flat tire, a lost key, a dead car battery, a need for towing services, or fuel delivery – and for dozens of other unexpected predicaments.
When you purchase a new car, car manufacturers will often offer roadside assistance coverage free of charge. The terms typically mirror the years and miles provided by the manufacturer’s basic warranty coverage, such as three years and 36,000 miles of no-cost coverage.
But what happens when your free roadside assistance coverage expires? And what roadside assistance options do you have when you buy a used car? How do you get a roadside assistance program and what do you need to pay? Here’s some information that can help you find the right plan from the right source at the right cost.
A good road side assistance plan can help you in times of need.
First, do you need roadside assistance plan?
Car insurance companies and credit card companies sometimes offer roadside assistance coverage in their plans, so best to see if you are already covered. If you already have some coverage from your insurance company or credit card company, you can always pick up additional roadside assistance services from other third-party companies.
What does a typical plan cover?
Roadside assistance plans generally provide coverage 24/7 and 365 days a year.
Services vary depending on the roadside assistance provider. Most roadside assistance plans cover basic needs such as requesting a tow truck, flat tire changing, battery service, locksmith service, and winching assistance from snow, ice, water or mud. Some plans additionally include fuel delivery, key replacement, transportation, lodging assistance, and even legal cost reimbursement.
Keep in mind roadside assistance is not a substitute for car insurance and does not cover more serious emergencies. If you are in an accident, immediately dial 911.
How much is roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance plans can range, there are some cheap roadside assistance programs but, most typically charge a flat monthly or annual fee for coverage. When you need help, you then get services at no extra charge or at a significant discount. The number of free service calls can also vary.
Another option is to pay per incident for roadside coverage. Instead of paying every month whether you use the service or not, you only pay when and if your vehicle breaks and you need help.
Roadside assistance plans typically start at about $30 to $60 for the first year, but premium coverage that provides increased or additional benefits can annually cost hundreds of dollars. Should you cancel a plan, you'll typically get a pro-rated refund, though the plan might deduct the value of roadside assistance benefits already provided. You also may have to pay a cancellation fee.
Where can you find the best roadside assistance plans?
As we noted, it’s a personal choice. The best roadside assistance plan is the one that fits your needs and budget. High-end roadside assistance can be expensive, and low-cost roadside assistance may not offer the services you need. Always look for a provider with a high rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or reputable motor clubs to ensure you're getting legitimate coverage.
Used car owners have several options for adding roadside assistance coverage. Auto insurance companies are the most popular choices, as they can add the cost to your monthly or annual premium payments. Organizations such as AAA, with 61 million members, specialize in building roadside assistance programs. And credit-card companies often offer annual or per-incident roadside protection plans. Plus, most companies offer some form of trip interruption coverage.
Most roadside assistance plans have an app that can get you help when you need it most.
Our top 10 roadside assistance plans.
For generations, the American Automobile Association has been a leader in this space. AAA roadside assistance offers three levels of coverage — Classic, Plus, and Premier — with each membership level offering robust benefits. Plus, AAA often extends its members travel discounts and special offers.
Allstate rescues you in two different and affordable ways, through its Platinum Elite and Roadside Advantage levels. Both offer a host of benefits, included motorcycle and RV coverage and additional household member coverage at no extra cost. And you don’t even need an Allstate auto insurance policy to qualify.
Progressive is a smart choice for roadside assistance. The company offers one inexpensive plan that provides all the important services you need — battery charge, fuel delivery, locksmith services, and flat tire change — but with two extra benefits. First, the program provides up to one hour of free on-scene labor with your disabled vehicle. And second, if needed, you’ll receive free towing beyond the typical 15-mile radius to the nearest qualified repair facility.
You may not know the name. But Better World Club is a subscription-based service that prides itself as the nation’s only socially responsible, eco-friendly club for auto and bicycle roadside assistance. Their programs are benefit-rich and reasonably priced. Plus, the company carries an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
If you or a family member has served in the military, this is the best roadside assistance coverage choice for you. It is available in all 50 states and offered free or at little charge to USAA auto insurance members. The program provides all basic rescue services, as well as one hour of free on-scene labor and towing services within a 50-mile radius — far exceeding all other insurance companies.
While only GEICO auto insurance policyholders are eligible for emergency roadside assistance, there is enough value in the program to make you consider the switch. With GEICO, you can request roadside assistance online help through its mobile app rather than calling the company. GEICO’s GPS location tracker is especially helpful if your car breaks and you are stranded in unfamiliar surroundings. The cost is inexpensive — as little as $14 a year — and you can save all your policy information in the app.
Farmers offers roadside assistance coverage as an add-on to its auto insurance policies, so you must first purchase collision or comprehensive protection to be eligible. The program is then inexpensive, and a 24/7 1-800 hotline is instantly available. Farmers roadside assistance is available in all 50 states, and includes a network of thousands of locksmiths and towing professionals. Policy holders also have the option to contact a service provider of choice, pay the bill, and then submit a claim for reimbursement consideration.
As the only roadside assistance program designed specifically for AARP members — ages 50 and older — participants save up to 20% on the cost. It’s also available through Allstate, The Hartford, and other prominent insurance companies. Besides standard 24/7 benefits such as towing services, flat tire change, fuel delivery, battery boost, winching, and lockout help, AARP caters to its membership with accident-related hospitalization and legal support.
Just push the blue button. Until recently, only drivers of vehicles made by General Motors had that option for OnStar roadside assistance benefits. Now, the GM subsidiary that offers subscription-based services — such as communications with trained advisors, in-vehicle security, emergency, and roadside help — is making its OnStar Guardian mobile app available to anyone in the U.S. and Canada. Programs and services range from $25-$50 per month.
10. State Farm
State Farm is the right choice for drivers looking for a basic roadside assistance coverage at a low price. Current State Farm customers can purchase a six-month policy add-on for about $15 to secure coverage for towing, locksmith service, and gas delivery. That said, the plan does not include pulling your car from snow, water, ice, or mud, and you will likely have to pay for any fuel, tires, or batteries that need replacement.
According to AAA, 69 million vehicles break down each year.
Keep that statistic in mind when deciding the importance of roadside assistance coverage. Without this service, you will be left vulnerable to the unplanned events, unexpected costs, and unwanted concerns looming on our roads and highways. Adding a plan that’s right for you, however, can offer 24/7 peace of mind that’s typically just a phone call away. If you need help lowering your overall auto costs to help with a new roadside assistance plan, RateWorks can help you refinance your auto loan to save you money! Get a free quote today!