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Does basic car insurance cover towing?

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Have basic car insurance and need a tow? Here’s how to get covered.

Getting stuck on the side of the road with no way home can be frustrating at best, especially if you have basic car insurance. When you need a tow, there are options to consider when it comes to the right amount of coverage.

Does basic car insurance cover towing?

No, many insurance providers don’t include roadside assistance and towing insurance as part of a bare-bones plan.

Roadside assistance plans are typically considered an add-on to comprehensive insurance and collision coverage, meaning you’ll likely need to upgrade from more than the basics to take advantage of your provider’s towing services.

If you’re driving a car that’s prone to breaking down, ask your provider about plans that include roadside assistance. Other options include joining an auto club like AAA. Although you’ll pay an annual membership fee, you’ll gain access to towing and other important roadside emergency features.

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What’s included in towing services?

What your insurance company covers depends largely on your provider and how you’ve ended up on the side of the road. If your vehicle is damaged in an accident, your policy’s collision likely covers the cost of towing your car to a certified mechanic for repairs.

Roadside assistance insurance kicks in when your vehicle breaks down during a drive. It often covers the cost of the towing service and per-mile fees up to a specified amount in your contract. If you pay the towing company at the time of service, your insurance company reimburses you after it processes your claim.

When can I use roadside assistance services?

Any time you can’t drive your vehicle, you can take advantage of your roadside assistance insurance.

Most insurance companies cover towing for a limited number of miles. If you need your vehicle towed further, you’re often responsible for the excess costs.

Here’s how your roadside assistance might apply to everyday breakdowns and situations.

You run out of gasYou’re locked out of your carYour vehicle is stolenYou’re too drunk to drive
If you run out of gas, use your roadside assistance insurance to get just enough juice to make it to the next gas station.Use your roadside assistance to call a locksmith who can let you back in.If there’s too much damage to drive, it’s likely roadside assistance can tow your recovered car back home.Roadside assistance is unlikely to cover towing if you’ve had too much to drink.

Does using roadside assistance count as making a claim?

No, it’s not the same as making a claim, so you won’t pay a deductible. Activating your towing coverage won’t raise your rates unless you use the coverage too many times in a short period.

How much will roadside assistance cost?

The cost of roadside assistance — which covers more than just towing — depends on your specific vehicle, your driving history and the state you live in. But if you can afford comprehensive and collision coverage, roadside assistance can be worth its towing coverage alone, which can be expensive to pay for out of pocket.

Not every insurance provider requires comprehensive and collision coverage to qualify for roadside assistance add-ons. State Farm, Allstate and Progressive don’t require more than basic coverage if you’re looking for roadside assistance, and Esurance allows you to use its roadside assistance even if you aren’t officially signed up for it.

Call your insurer if you’re interested in roadside assistance and want to know what you’ll be charged.

Compare roadside assistance from top insurers

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Available states
Allstate
Included free
Yes, cars under 2 years old
All 50 states
Enjoy having your own dedicated agent to help you get the best discounts and coverage.
Liberty Mutual
Optional
Yes, cars under 1 year old & 15,000 miles
All 50 states
Car insurance through Liberty Mutual will give coverage options for almost any situation.
Root
Included free
No
AZ, AR, DE, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, MI, MS, MT, NM, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, TX, UT
Root offers simple, affordable insurance that’s ideal for good drivers. Try the Root app for 2 weeks and see how much you could save. Available in 20 states.
Esurance
Included free
Yes, cars under 1 year old & 15,000 miles
All states except AK, DE, HI, MT, NH, VT, WY
Esurance offers a modern online and mobile experience that helps you take your insurance on the go. Available in 42 states.
Metromile
Optional
Yes, cars under 1 year old & 15,000 miles
AZ, CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA
Drive less than 30 miles a day? Save on the coverage you need with pay-per-mile insurance from Metromile. Get a low monthly rate then pay just a few cents per mile. Available in AZ, CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA and WA.

Compare up to 4 providers

Should I pay for roadside assistance coverage?

If you’re thinking about getting roadside assistance, think about the likelihood of needing a tow and costs of all your options.

  • The length of your commute. If you have a long commute, roadside assistance could be helpful if you need a tow in the middle of a highway.
  • Where you commute. Consider the kinds of roads you typically drive and what would happen if you needed a tow. A car breaking down on a busy, one-lane road without a shoulder is a different experience from your car dying on a highway with a sizable median or shoulder.
  • Your vehicle’s age. Towing is expensive. If you drive an older car, roadside assistance could provide savings and peace of mind in an emergency.
  • Any previous damage. If your vehicle has been in a previous accident or has a history of mechanical problems, roadside assistance could help with future roadside breakdowns.
  • Help from friends and family. If you live near someone who could pick you up or give you a ride or even repair or tow your car for you, you might not need roadside assistance.

Honda Accord

Kevin’s Honda Accord broke down on the interstate. The car was safely towed and repaired, but Kevin is worried his Accord might break down again. He wants to compare the costs of getting roadside assistance coverage through his car insurance or AAA.

Cost of towing up to 40 milesOne-time costAnnual coverage cost
Independent tow$125$0
AAA (Plus membership)$0$100
Insurance$0$36

Kevin decides that since he’s had other issues with the car and he doesn’t need any of the extra benefits from getting a AAA membership, adding roadside assistance to his existing car insurance policy makes the most sense for his situation.

Bottom line

If you own a vehicle that’s prone to stalling out or breaking down, look into the protection that roadside assistance coverage offers. And compare your car insurance rates to find affordable comprehensive and collision coverage.

Frequently asked questions

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Kellye Guinan

Kellye Guinan is a writer and editor with finder.com and has years of experience in academic writing and research. Between her passion for books and her love of language, she works on creating stories and volunteering her time on worthy causes. She lives in the woods and likes to find new bug friends in between reading just a little too much nonfiction.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    GlendaOctober 23, 2018

    I have towing coverage. My car broke down and I had it towed to a shop but now I do not want that shop to fix the car and want another shop to fix it. If I have it towed from the shop to another shop will my insurance pay for both tows?

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseOctober 25, 2018Staff

      Hi Glenda,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      Most insurance companies cover towing for a limited number of miles and if you need your vehicle towed further, you’re often responsible for the excess costs.

      While there are some insurance companies who will tow your vehicle to the nearest dealer repair shop for the make of the car you have (whatever the distance is) and if you choose to take your car to another repair shop, you have to pay for the towing service at your own expense.

      Your towing coverage will depend on the inclusions of your insurance policy. If you have your policy booklet, you can review it so you will know exactly what is included in your coverage. If you don’t have your policy booklet, you can also contact your insurance provide directly for further assistance.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

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