What Is Roadside Assistance & Do You Need It?
Roadside assistance is a car insurance add-on that connects you to services such as towing and car replacement to help you get back on the road. Suppose you aren’t confident with your car repair skills when you have a flat tire or just need help getting gasoline. In that case, your insurer can dispatch a service provider most appropriate for your situation, paid for through roadside assistance coverage.
Roadside assistance is a common coverage that you can get as an add-on from your insurer, a benefit from a credit card or even as a pay-per-use option. It helps you pay for the services you need if your car breaks down on the road.
Covered services can include towing, transportation assistance, tire changes and more. If you have a problematic car or are just not too familiar with car repair, you may want to get roadside assistance for added peace of mind.
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Roadside assistance is a type of coverage that can pay for emergency services such as towing, gas or oil delivery or a battery jump start.
Most major auto insurance companies offer roadside assistance, but you can also get it from your credit card company or membership in an organization.
Roadside assistance does not cover collisions. Those are covered instead by liability, comprehensive and collision insurance.
Why Trust MoneyGeek? We review financial products, services and providers to help you make informed decisions about your money. For this roadside assistance guide, we investigated how roadside assistance coverage works, what the coverage includes, and who should get it. We also examined the policy offerings of top providers to determine which car insurance companies offer roadside assistance, either as a part of their standard policy or as an add-on policy option.
What Is Roadside Assistance?
Otherwise known as breakdown coverage, roadside assistance is a car insurance add-on designed to provide services to help you get back on the road if you have a flat tire or run out of gas.
If your car breaks down unexpectedly, you can call your provider for assistance, including towing, tire changing, locksmith assistance or even fuel delivery. Most insurers offer roadside assistance, but note that it is optional and not a government requirement.
Having roadside assistance coverage can help reduce the cost of breakdowns, as you will not have to pay out of pocket for these services. If your car needs to be towed, for example, your insurer will connect you with the best provider for your location and situation and cover the costs.
Not all roadside assistance coverages are identical. Some providers place limitations on the coverage, so it’s a good idea to ask your insurer for details about their roadside assistance coverage before adding it to your policy.
How Does Roadside Assistance Work?
If you have roadside assistance coverage and need help, simply contact your provider and tell them what’s wrong with the vehicle or use your insurer’s mobile application. From there, the provider will help you by dispatching the nearest provider.
What Does Roadside Assistance Cover?
Roadside assistance coverage can assist in coordinating help and paying the cost of most car breakdown issues. It should cover you wherever you are, whether on a highway or at home in your garage.
For some breakdowns, you need a tow truck to take your car to the nearest repair shop. Many towing service providers also offer a range of repairs.
Flat Tires & Tire Changes
This includes replacing a flat tire and potentially providing a tire that suits your car if you have no suitable spare.
Battery Jump Start
A battery jump start involves starting your car if it has a discharged or depleted battery. This typically requires another vehicle or external power source.
If you get locked out of your car, locksmith services can help you get back in quickly and easily.
Fuel delivery covers just that: fuel delivery. If you run out of gas before you get to the next gas station, fuel delivery services have you covered.
Mud or Snow Extraction
Mud or snow extraction services are designed to help you get your car out of difficult mud or deep snow.
Roadside Assistance Benefits You Might Encounter
Some insurance providers offer extra perks with roadside assistance coverage, including the following:
Trip Interruption Coverage
This type of travel insurance coverage can cover any interrupted trips caused by your car’s breakdown. For instance, if you need to pause your road trip due to unexpected repairs, trip interruption coverage can pay for lodging and other travel expenses.
Legal Defense Coverage
This coverage reimburses you for legal costs up to the plan limit if you need an attorney to defend you in court against a traffic violation.
Guaranteed Arrest Bonds
This coverage will post your bond if you've been charged with a traffic offense up to a certain limit. However, this does not cover you if you are charged with a DUI or felony.
Roadside Assistance Exclusions You Might Encounter
Not all instances or events are covered by roadside assistance coverage, and knowing the limits can help you purchase the right coverage for your needs.
It Is Not a Substitute for Collision and Comprehensive Insurance
Roadside assistance is not a substitute for car insurance. Collisions and crashes must be covered by comprehensive and collision insurance. If your car gets damaged, these coverages can help pay repair costs.
It May Only Follow the Vehicle
For some providers, roadside assistance coverage will only cover the vehicle, not the driver. If you are driving another car that breaks down, your roadside assistance policy will not follow, and you may have to pay out of pocket. However, some providers may let the coverage follow the driver. Make sure to ask your provider to ensure you know the details of when and where your coverage will apply.
It May Require Your Membership Card’s Presence
If you have roadside assistance coverage courtesy of an organizational membership, you may need to have your card on your person to use the benefit.
How to Get Roadside Assistance Coverage
There are several ways to get roadside assistance coverage. A standard way to get it is through an auto insurance provider as an add-on to your car insurance policy. You can also sometimes acquire roadside assistance through your vehicle’s warranty or as a benefit of a credit card or membership in an organization.
Car Insurance Companies That Offer Roadside Assistance
Most auto insurance companies offer roadside assistance coverage. If you have car insurance, you can contact your provider to find out if they offer roadside assistance and whether you are eligible to add it to your policy.
Companies That Offer Roadside Assistance
- CompanyCoverageIncluded Or Add-On
As part of their membership, AAA’s Roadside Assistance
can pay for the cost of fuel delivery, flat tire
replacement, battery jump starts, vehicle lockout
services and trip continuation services.
In case of a car breakdown, this provides reimbursement
for necessary towing and labor costs (up to the applicable
limit). It also includes jump-starting dead batteries, repairing
flat tires, filling up the gas tank and towing.
Emergency Roadside Service from American Family includes
towing, battery jump starts, tire servicing, gas and
oil delivery, locksmith services and roadside repairs.
Farmer’s Roadside Assistance is called Towing and Road
Service. It reimburses the towing costs of disabled
vehicles and is only available if you have collision
GEICO’s roadside coverage includes flat tires, towing,
jump starts and lockouts.
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Roadside Assistance Memberships
If you don’t want to purchase roadside assistance through your auto insurance provider, you can often get it from third parties like your credit card company.
Vehicle Manufacturer Warranty
Most vehicle manufacturer warranties cover roadside assistance, but services could be limited. Check with your vehicle manufacturer or dealership to find out what services are covered.
Credit Card Company
Some credit card companies include roadside assistance as an added perk to your card. To find out if yours includes it, read the fine print of your card agreement or ask your card issuer.
Some organizations like AAA offer roadside assistance if you are a member. If you are a part of a prominent organization, you may want to ask if they include this coverage as an extra benefit.
Frequently Asked Questions About Roadside Assistance
While roadside assistance coverage is fairly straightforward, it can be confusing for those new to insurance. Review the commonly asked questions about this coverage below.
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