UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Before you go any farther in this article, ask yourself one important question: what if you were driving down the road tomorrow on your way to work, and your tire blew out? What would you do?
Do you have a spare in your trunk? Do you know how to change a tire yourself? Would you get in trouble for being late to work if you had to change your entire, or wait for your vehicle to get towed?
Would you have the money to tow your vehicle to a shop and pay for a new tire? In other words, how much would a common roadside incident, like a flat tire or an empty gas tank, disrupt your normal life?
With roadside assistance coverage on your policy, you won’t have to worry about spending too much time or money taking care of such a situation.
And for most car insurance policies, adding roadside assistance coverage only cost an extra few dollars.
But there are some pitfalls to roadside assistance coverage that you may want to be aware of before you sign up. And we will explain them to you now.
What to Expect from Your Roadside Assistance Coverage
If, for whatever reason, your car is suddenly rendered undrivable while you are on the road, you will likely require roadside assistance services in order to get it up and running again.
Many auto insurance policies come with a fairly comprehensive list of roadside assistance services, such as:
- Towing services
- Jump-starting your car battery
- Flat tire change (if you already have a spare)
- Lockout/locksmith services
- Fuel delivery
Keep in mind that some of these services have a limited range and number of uses per policy term.
With Progressive, for example, your towing benefits are limited to an approved repair facility within 15 miles of the point from which you tow the vehicle, or the nearest acceptable facility if it happens to be beyond 15 miles.
Furthermore, other companies may put a limit on how many times you can, for example, call for a battery jump start.
If you exceed that maximum number, they may force you to pay for the service out of pocket or treat it as a claim against your policy and up your rates on the next renewal.
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Who Does (and Who Doesn’t) Need Roadside Assistance?
For starters, there are alternatives to purchasing the roadside assistance coverage option offered by your car insurance company.
You could potentially get these services from an auto club, one of your credit card companies, or the dealership that your vehicle comes from.
But if the roadside assistance options offered by your automotive insurer are more attractive than alternate options, you should still keep the following factors in mind before you make a final decision:
- Older vehicles benefit more from roadside assistance coverage. Newer vehicles usually don’t require this type of coverage because either a) they are much less likely to break down, or b) many dealerships offer complimentary roadside assistance at no cost to you for purchasing a brand new vehicle from them. But once the warranty on your vehicle expires with your dealership, you might want to think about talking on a little roadside assistance your policy.
- The price of roadside assistance coverage costs significantly less than calling for a private service, even if you only use it once a year. For something as simple as locking your keys in your car, you can end up paying upwards of $75 to $100 or more. And the more often it happens, the more costly it will get. On the other hand, companies like Progressive charge about $15 a year for roadside assistance coverage – that’s less than $2 a month.
- How far you travel can determine whether or not you need roadside assistance. People who frequently travel long distances or who often commute far away for work may benefit more from a roadside assistance package than those without. If you’re on the open road, far from home, and one of your tires blows out, it may be extremely difficult for you to handle the situation on your own. But if you have the opportunity to take advantage of roadside assistance from your insurance company, all it takes is a phone call (or the tap of a button on your insurance company’s phone app) to get the help you need.
Hopefully, some of the scenarios above can give you a better idea of what sort of benefits you could get from a roadside assistance package on your policy.
What If My Car Insurance Company Doesn’t Offer Roadside Assistance?
While most major auto insurance providers do, in fact, offer roadside assistance, there are some smaller entities out there who either don’t or can’t provide such coverage.
Obviously, you will need to get in touch with your insurance company and ask them if roadside assistance is available for your policy.
You should also ask them specifics about what their roadside assistance package includes; unfortunately, these optional coverages are not uniform or universal across all providers.
Your insurance company has the freedom to decide which options they can offer, and the limitations of them.
Furthermore, you are auto insurance companies and the only source of roadside assistance. Some credit card companies, especially if you have exceptionally good credit, offer roadside assistance as a bonus perk to their valued customers.
You can also purchase roadside assistance from the auto club, like AAA.
These organizations specialize in not only roadside assistance, but offering people discounts on hotels, restaurants, goods and services that you would need on a road trip, or deals on things that have nothing to do with travel (but most people would like a discount on anyway).
Although most auto club memberships are significantly more expensive than roadside assistance from your insurer, many drivers feel that the goods, services, and discounts they get in exchange are well worth the money.
If you think you might benefit from roadside assistance, then you’ll also have to take into consideration which company can give you the best options for your money.
Sometimes, that company will also give you a better rate on your auto insurance policy overall; other providers, however, may have the roadside assistance package you need but not the best price.
How can you find out which one is which? By comparing rates right now, of course! Use our FREE tool now!