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Also called breakdown coverage, roadside assistance insurance helps with a wide range of motor vehicle problems beyond just breakdowns, such as locking yourself out of your car or waking up on the morning of a road trip to a dead battery.
Roadside assistance plans usually cost around $5 per month or $50 a year, though you can get free towing with your car insurance policy. Memberships usually include towing within a certain distance, access to emergency assistance and a free hour of labor. But you’ll need to pay for any fuel, parts or supplies to get your vehicle back on the road and any extra mileage beyond the typical towing zone.
Compare costs and benefits of the most popular car insurers and driving clubs offering towing and roadside assistance. Some prices are based on your state availability.
|Company||Cost of service||Tires/ battery||Towing/ winching||Lockouts||Other benefits|
|AAA||$52 per year for Classic|
$92 for Plus
$129 for Premier
|Yes||Within 5 miles for Classic|
100 miles for Plus and Premier
One tow up to 200 miles for Premier
|$50 for Classic|
$100 for Plus
$150 for Premier
|$25 discount off new batteries|
Free one-day car rental for Premier
|Allstate||$25 per year as car insurance add-on|
$120 for pay-per-use tows
$80 to $140 for motor club
|Yes||$150 to $250 benefits for motor club||Yes||Motor club extras:|
$1,500 for trip interruptions
$100 to $250 for road hazard damage
|AMA||Standard: Free for members|
Plus: $35 per year
|Yes||35 miles, no winching||Yes||Mobile mechanic for RVs|
|Geico||$14 per year||Yes||Closest dealership within 20 miles||Up to $100|
|Liberty Mutual||Not specified||Yes||To the nearest repair shop||Yes||Minor mechanical repairs|
|Progressive||$16 per year||Yes||15 miles or nearest repair shop|
Winching within 100 feet from road
|Yes||One hour of mechanical labor|
Trip interruption for motorcycles and boats
|State Farm||$36 to $48 per year||Yes||To nearest repair shop||One hour of locksmith labor||Mechanical labor, one hour|
|Farmers||Up to $120 per year||Yes||$150, Winching within 10 feet of road||Yes|
You can opt into roadside assistance coverage in a few ways:
If roadside assistance is available through your insurer, cell phone company or automaker, you may get a good price since you’re already a member. However, dedicated roadside assistance companies and motor clubs can provide greater coverage and a number of other benefits that you might not get elsewhere.
Here are a few things to consider when comparing roadside assistance services.
Motor clubs like AAA and Allstate Motor Club offer full-service packages that include roadside assistance. While some insurers offer roadside assistance as an add-on, it’s generally more limited.
Policies vary across insurers, but you can generally expect coverage to look like:
You can set up roadside assistance through your car insurer or a motorist club like AAA. When you need help, you’ll call the help line and describe your issue. From there, the dispatcher can walk you through fixing the problem yourself or send out a mobile technician or tow truck.
Get your car towed to the mechanic after a breakdown for free within a certain radius with an extra charge for every extra mile. Can also include towing your camper or RV if it’s within certain size and weight limits.
Whether you need a jumpstart or your battery is faulty and needs to be replaced, most technicians can help on the spot.
If you accidentally lock your keys in your car, your provider helps you access your vehicle, or contact a locksmith.
Mobile technicians normally carry an emergency supply of gasoline.
Sometimes you just can’t get the engine running.
Replacing a tire is a hard and dirty job. Even if know you can do it, there are plenty of reasons to call for help.
With membership-based roadside assistance, you can usually choose from different levels of coverage. This ranges from cheaper options that includes a limited number of calls, basic mechanical assistance and towing, to top-of-the-line cover that helps with replacement car hire and accommodation.
No. Roadside assistance is part of your car insurance coverage, but using it won’t raise your rates like making a claim would. However, if you abuse the service, your insurer may charge you a higher premium upon renewal, or refuse to renew your policy.
Roadside assistance is normally limited to small-scale mechanical problems. Usually you won’t be covered for:
Major providers typically allow you to become a member when your car breaks down, but they’ll charge you an additional “on-the-go” fee. This fee also applies to calls usually within 24 to 72 hours after you purchase membership.
Some stand-alone services charge a flat rate for each emergency roadside assistance call from non-members. So instead of joining a membership program for a year and forking out an additional on-the-go fee, you only pay for the one-off help you need. This can be a lot cheaper than taking out membership on the spot for a tire change. However, stand-alone assistance rapidly becomes more expensive if you need more than one or two callouts in a year.
Whichever option you choose, always read the terms and conditions to know exactly what you’re covered for.
Prices for roadside assistance vary depending on your area and local service providers, but shopping around to compare your options can help you save money.
A roadside assistance membership could come in handy, and you have affordable options from your car insurer, motorist club or vehicle manufacturer. But even if you don’t have a plan when you get stuck on the side of the road, you can still get a tow. Compare car insurance policies with towing included to find the best deal for you.
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