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.
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 gas||You’re locked out of your car||Your vehicle is stolen||You’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.|
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.
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 miles||One-time cost||Annual coverage cost|
|AAA (Plus membership)||$0||$100|
Kevin decides that since he’s had other issues with the car and he doesn’t need any of the extra benefits from AAA, adding roadside assistance to his existing car insurance policy makes the most sense for his situation.
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 hitch up your car and tow it for you, you might not need roadside assistance.
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.