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.

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Last Updated: 8/20/2022
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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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Key Takeaways

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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.

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Most major auto insurance companies offer roadside assistance, but you can also get it from your credit card company or membership in an organization.

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Roadside assistance does not cover collisions. Those are covered instead by liability, comprehensive and collision insurance.

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.

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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.

1

Towing Services

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

Locksmith Services

If you get locked out of your car, locksmith services can help you get back in quickly and easily.

5

Fuel Delivery

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.

6

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:

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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
  • Company
    Coverage
    Included Or Add-On
  • AAA

    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.

    Included with
    AAA membership

  • Allstate

    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.

    Add-On

  • American Family

    Emergency Roadside Service from American Family includes
    towing, battery jump starts, tire servicing, gas and
    oil delivery, locksmith services and roadside repairs.

    Add-On

  • Farmers

    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
    coverage.

    Add-On

  • GEICO

    GEICO’s roadside coverage includes flat tires, towing,
    jump starts and lockouts.

    Add-On

  • Liberty Mutual

    Also known as Towing & Labor, Liberty Mutual will pay for
    your vehicle to be repaired on-site or towed to the nearest
    shop. When you contact them to arrange help, Liberty Mutual
    will cover the entire cost of towing to the nearest shop.
    They will pay up to $50 per tow when you arrange your own
    towing.

    Add-On

  • Nationwide

    Nationwide provides 24/7 emergency assistance, including
    fuel delivery, tire changes, jump starts and towing. The
    policy covers all of your vehicles and drivers, even when
    they are passengers in someone else's vehicle.

    Add-On

  • Progressive

    Progressive will pay for certain roadside repairs or towing
    services if you run out of gas, have mechanical or
    electrical problems, get a flat tire or have a dead battery.

    Add-On

  • State Farm

    State Farm’s Roadside Assistance can pay for mechanical
    labor, towing, delivery of gas and oil and locksmith
    services.

    Add-On

  • Travelers

    Travelers has two Roadside Assistance packages: Roadside
    Assistance and Premier Roadside Assistance®.

    The Roadside Assistance plan includes towing, jump starts,
    fuel delivery, flat tire changes and lockout assistance.
    Their Premier Roadside Assistance® package pays for towing
    up to 100 miles along with everything from the normal
    package, trip interruption coverage and personal property
    coverage.

    Add-On

  • USAA

    USAA’s Roadside Assistance provides towing, vehicle
    unlocking, battery jump starts, flat tire changes and gas
    delivery services.

    Add-On

  • Shelter

    Roadside Assistance pays for services up to $100 per
    incident. Services can include fuel assistance, towing,
    flat tire services, lockouts and battery jump starts. It
    is also included in Shelter auto insurance policies by
    default.

    Included

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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.

Member Organization

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.

About the Author


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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content manager with MoneyGeek specializing in insurance. Mark has years of experience analyzing the insurance market and creating original research and content. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts and Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts.