Does Full Coverage Car Insurance Cover Towing?


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Updated: May 25, 2024

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If you've added roadside assistance or emergency road service to your full coverage car insurance, your policy probably includes towing services. But if your full coverage only consists of collision and comprehensive insurance, towing is generally only covered when a covered incident — such as an accident or theft — renders your car undrivable. If the incident isn't covered by your collision or comprehensive insurance, your insurer usually won't cover the towing costs.

Roadside assistance typically includes towing, regardless of the reason for the breakdown. This includes mechanical issues, flat tires, dead batteries and other situations where your car is disabled.

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Key Takeaways

Full coverage car insurance does not automatically include towing unless the incident is covered by collision or comprehensive insurance, or you have a roadside assistance add-on.

Roadside assistance can be added to your policy or obtained separately through motor clubs, credit cards or manufacturers.

If you often drive in remote areas, have an older car or simply value peace of mind, consider adding roadside assistance to your policy or exploring alternative options.

Full Coverage Insurance Explained

Full coverage car insurance is a term commonly used to describe a combination of insurance policies that provide a broad level of protection for your vehicle. Generally, "full coverage" includes:

  • Liability insurance: This covers damages or injuries you cause to others in an accident.
  • Collision coverage: This covers damage to your own vehicle if you're involved in an accident.
  • Comprehensive coverage: This covers damage to your car from events other than collisions, such as theft, vandalism or natural disasters.

If your car is undrivable after an accident covered by collision insurance, your policy might cover towing to a repair shop. Similarly, if your car is undrivable due to a covered event like theft or fire, comprehensive coverage might step in.

Towing coverage isn't automatically included in most standard policies — it’s often a separate add-on coverage. Unless you have roadside assistance or your policy explicitly covers the incident, your insurer likely won't cover the cost of towing your vehicle.

BUY FULL COVERAGE CAR INSURANCE TO GET ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE

Most insurers require you to have collision or comprehensive insurance to buy the add-on roadside assistance coverage.

Roadside Assistance Explained

Roadside assistance, sometimes called "emergency road service coverage" or "towing and labor coverage" by insurers like Allstate or The Hartford, is an optional add-on to your car insurance policy.

This additional roadside assistance coverage can either come with towing services or help cover the cost of towing your vehicle to a repair shop, especially if it's not drivable after an accident or breakdown. Along with this essential service, roadside assistance typically includes:

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    Towing

    Transporting your vehicle to a repair shop if it's broken down or undrivable.

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    Jump-starts

    Reviving your car battery if it's dead.

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    Flat tire service

    Changing a flat tire or providing a spare.

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    Lockout service

    Helping you get back into your locked car.

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    Fuel delivery

    Bringing you gas if you run out (the cost of the fuel is generally not included).

Like most insurance policies, roadside assistance often comes with limits on the cost covered per incident or the number of claims allowed annually.

This coverage follows the car, not the driver, meaning it only applies to the car specified in your insurance policy, not any other vehicle you might be driving. So, if you're borrowing a friend's car and it breaks down, their car insurance – not yours – would likely be responsible for roadside assistance.

IS ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE INCLUDED IN INSURANCE?

No, roadside assistance is not typically included in standard car insurance policies. It's usually offered as an optional add-on. But towing coverage may be covered under collision or comprehensive coverage if your car is undrivable due to an accident or other covered event.

Roadside assistance will tow your car to safety if it breaks down, but the responsibility for repairs, including parts and labor, falls under your collision or comprehensive coverage, depending on the nature of the damage.

How to Add Roadside Assistance to Insurance

Adding roadside assistance to your car insurance is usually a simple process. Typically, you can add it when purchasing a new policy or modify your existing one.

Here's how you can usually add roadside assistance to your car insurance:

1
Review your current policy

Check if your current insurance plan includes roadside assistance. Some insurers may already offer it as part of comprehensive or full coverage plans.

2
Contact your insurance provider

Call your insurer or visit their website. Customer service can provide details on available roadside assistance options and any additional costs.

3
Evaluate the options

Assess the features offered in each roadside assistance package. Consider factors like towing distance, service call limits and additional services like fuel delivery or lockout assistance.

4
Choose your coverage

Select the roadside assistance plan that best suits your needs and budget.

5
Update your policy

Confirm the changes with your insurer. You can usually do this over the phone, online or in person. Make sure your policy reflects the added roadside assistance coverage.

Adding roadside assistance could increase your premium slightly, but it provides peace of mind and swift help during vehicle breakdowns. Full coverage car insurance won't cover a tow in all scenarios — roadside assistance will.

When to Add Roadside Assistance to Your Insurance

You should add roadside assistance to your insurance when you want coverage for any vehicle issues on the road. Here are a few scenarios where it's especially beneficial:

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    You lack mechanical knowledge

    If you are not confident in your ability to handle vehicle-related emergencies yourself, roadside assistance provides expert help with just a phone call.

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    You frequently drive long distances or in remote areas

    If you're far from home or help, roadside assistance can be a lifesaver.

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    Your car is older and more prone to breakdowns

    Older vehicles are more likely to need towing or other roadside services.

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    You lack a reliable support network

    If you don't have friends or family nearby to help in case of a breakdown, roadside assistance can provide that support.

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    You frequently drive in an area with extreme weather

    Drivers in areas with severe winter weather will benefit from roadside assistance, which can help with common cold-weather issues like battery failures and tire changes.

Roadside assistance is an investment in your safety and convenience on the road, potentially saving you time, money and hassle in the long run.

By adjusting your policy limits and carefully assessing how much insurance you actually need, you can bundle roadside assistance with even the cheapest full coverage car insurance policy. This gets you extensive protection for both accidents and breakdowns without overspending on your insurance.

Alternatives to Roadside Assistance

If adding roadside assistance to your car insurance isn't feasible (like when you only carry liability insurance), there are alternative options to consider for peace of mind on the road. Here are a few alternatives to explore:

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    Motor clubs

    Organizations like AAA offer memberships that include roadside assistance and other benefits like discounts on hotels and travel.

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    Credit card benefits

    Some credit cards offer roadside assistance as a perk, so check your card's benefits guide.

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    Manufacturer programs

    Certain car manufacturers provide roadside assistance for new or certified pre-owned vehicles.

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    Pay-per-use services

    You can call for towing or other services when needed, but costs can be high.

You might find better deals or more personalized roadside assistance by checking out motor clubs, credit card perks or programs offered by your car's manufacturer. Consider how often you drive and how reliable your car is to choose the option that's best for you.

FAQ on Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance can be a lifesaver when your car breaks down. Let's answer some common questions you might have about this optional coverage.

Does roadside assistance cover towing?
How to get reimbursed for towing?
Is roadside assistance included in insurance?

About Mark Fitzpatrick


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Mark Fitzpatrick has analyzed the property and casualty insurance market for over five years, conducting original research and creating personalized content for every kind of buyer. Currently, he leads P&C insurance content production at MoneyGeek. Fitzpatrick has been quoted in several insurance-related publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Fitzpatrick earned a master’s degree in economics and international relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his knowledge of economics and insurance to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.