What is roadside assistance?
Emergency roadside help is an add-on coverage that comes to the rescue if your vehicle breaks down and you’re stranded. It comes in handy when you have a flat tire, your car’s battery needs a jump or you run out of gas.
Most companies have phone operators on standby 24/7. A phone call can get help sent quickly, regardless of when or where you’re stuck.
According to Marissa Mounds, Senior Managing Director of National Auto Strategy for Travelers, “Having roadside assistance as an add-on to your auto insurance policy is a great way to help ensure that in the event of an emergency, you can get the assistance needed to get back on the road safely.”
What are the benefits of roadside assistance?
The coverage is fairly inexpensive, especially when compared to the cost of towing to a mechanic. The average emergency roadside coverage policy costs between $50 - $100 per year, while a single five-mile tow can cost up to $125.
John Nielsen, managing director of Automotive Engineering for AAA explains, “All vehicles – even the newest ones – are prone to typical roadside headaches like dead batteries, flat tires and misplaced keys, but vehicles 10 years and older are four times more likely to encounter a problem serious enough to require a tow to a repair facility.”
According to a recent report from the AAA, the most common types of serious breakdowns that require towing include:
- Battery and electrical problems
- Overheated engine or cooling system failures
- Tire damage that can’t be fixed roadside
Safety benefits of roadside assistance plans
Breaking down on a busy highway or street can be dangerous. Having roadside assistance come to the rescue quickly can get you out of a bad situation fast.
Ross Martin, a licensed insurance agent and consumer expert with The Zebra says, "Roadside assistance usually only costs a few dollars a month on average, but can really help you out of some sticky situations.” Don’t skimp when it comes to your safety - and that of your vehicle’s passengers.
What does a typical emergency breakdown coverage plan include?
- Battery jumpstart service
- Flat tire service
- Fuel delivery
- Lockout service
- Winching or extrication (from a ditch, for example)
What are the best roadside assistance companies?
You have many options to choose from when you’re shopping for coverage. Here are four main categories:
1. Your auto insurance company
Your auto insurer may include roadside assistance in your policy, but it’s best to check what it includes. The coverage may seem free, but the cost is often built into your insurance premium and can be deducted if you decide to pick a different provider.
2. Stand-alone emergency roadside assistance providers
|$58 - $119 per year||$52 - $99 per year||$58 - $75 per year||$75 - $100||$78 - $120 per year|
|5 miles of free towing (200 miles with the more expensive premium plan), up to 3 calls per year, $50 per locksmith event||Up to $100 per emergency, 3 service calls per year (5 for premium)||AARP members only (50+ years old), 5 miles of free towing (100 miles with the more expensive premium plan, four calls per year , $50 per locksmith event (up to $130 with the premium plan)||Towing up to 75 miles, 6 service calls per year, locksmith up to $100, winching up to $50||Up to $100 per emergency, four calls per year|
Number of family members included
|One, an additional $74 per person||All household members listed on the plan||One, $10 to add spouse||Anyone driving the insured vehicle for the $75 plan, or the $100 plan is per member, regardless of vehicle||One, $5 additional fee per member|
3. Credit card companies
Battery jump start
Flat tire replacement
|With available spare||Yes||Yes|
|Up to two gallons||Yes||Yes|
|If key is in the car||Yes||Yes|
|Up to 10 miles||Yes||Up to 10 miles|
4. New car and certified manufacturer coverage
Most auto manufacturers offer services like battery jump-start, flat tire service and fuel delivery. Check your owner’s manual or contact your dealer for more information.