What Is Roadside Assistance?

No one plans to be stranded on the side of the road with car troubles. If that day inevitably comes, you might appreciate the peace of mind that comes from having someone to call. 

That’s where roadside assistance comes in. This type of emergency coverage from your car insurance company can connect you with the local services necessary to get you back on the road.

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      What is roadside assistance?

      Roadside assistance is a service that many insurance companies offer to assist drivers with disabled vehicles. If you find yourself stranded with anything from a dead car battery to an accident, roadside assistance can help solve your problem.

      Roadside assistance helps drivers with a number of different car problems. Insurers help connect people with local service providers who either assist them at their current location or tow them to a repair shop to get the help they need.

      Many traditional car insurance companies offer roadside assistance as an optional add-on to your regular insurance policy. There are also companies that offer standalone roadside assistance coverage as their primary service.

      [ Related: How to Switch Car Insurance Companies ]

      What does roadside assistance cover?

      Your roadside assistance coverage may look a bit different depending on the insurance company you work with. In general, these services are intended to get you safely back on the road or help you get to a nearby service center.

      Roadside assistance usually covers:

      • Towing: If your vehicle needs more maintenance than can be done roadside, your insurance company can arrange and cover the cost of a tow to a nearby repair shop.
      • Tire change: If you find yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire, roadside assistance can send someone to change your tire. 
      • Fuel delivery: In a situation where you unexpectedly run out of gas, roadside assistance can arrange a fuel delivery — you’ll just pay for the cost of the gas.
      • Battery jump-start: In case of a dead battery, roadside assistance can send a professional to jump your car battery.
      • Lockout service: If you lock your keys in your car or can’t get in for some other reason, roadside assistance can send a locksmith to help open your door.
      • Minor labor: Depending on the service your car needs, roadside assistance may be able to send a professional to repair it at the scene rather than towing it to a service center. Insurance companies will likely cover up to a particular number of labor hours.

      Depending on your insurance company, roadside assistance coverage may apply to more than just your primary vehicle. Your policy may also apply to motorcycles, boats and RVs.

      Is it part of my regular car insurance policy?

      While many traditional car insurance companies offer roadside assistance, it usually isn’t included in a regular insurance policy. If you want this type of service, you’ll have to add it as an extra coverage.

      To add roadside assistance to an existing insurance policy, simply call your insurance agent or change your coverage options on your insurer’s website. Insurance companies that offer roadside assistance as an add-on service include:

      Some companies also offer roadside assistance as a standalone service. Companies like AAA and National General Motors Club offer roadside assistance memberships. 

      [ More: COVID-19 Is Making Millennials Switch Up Their Car Insurance ]

      Finally, other service providers like credit card companies and cell phone providers offer roadside assistance coverage to their cardholders and customers. 

      How much is roadside assistance?

      The cost of roadside assistance can vary widely depending on the level of coverage you desire and the company you buy your coverage through. Here are the different options available and the amount you can expect to pay:

      • Adding roadside assistance coverage to an existing car insurance policy will run you somewhere between $5 and $25 per vehicle per year. You can contact your specific insurance company for a more accurate quote.
      • Buying roadside assistance as a standalone service will cost you as low as $58 per year for the most basic level of coverage or as high as $124 for more comprehensive coverage.
      • Roadside assistance policies through other service providers come with varying costs. Verizon customers can sign up for roadside assistance coverage at $4.99 per month per phone line. American Express offers its customers access to a free 24-hour roadside assistance hotline to coordinate service, but members must pay out-of-pocket for the services they receive.

      Is roadside assistance worth it?

      Roadside assistance can give drivers the peace of mind of knowing that should anything happen while they’re on the road, they have a reliable service to depend on. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when deciding if roadside assistance is right for you:

      • Cost: Many roadside assistance coverage options come at a low cost, making them worth it for many drivers.
      • Vehicle age: Older vehicles and those with more miles may be more prone to breakdowns.
      • Driving frequency: The more often you drive, the more likely you are to face an unexpected roadside emergency. This consideration is especially relevant for those who drive in rural areas with fewer easily accessible services.
      • Location: In some states, such as those with particular cold winters, roadside assistance is more critical than others. 
      • Additional Benefits: Some standalone roadside assistance memberships come with additional benefits. For example, a AAA membership will get you discounts from many other companies from restaurants to airlines.

      [ Read: Best Cheap Car Insurance for College Students ]

      How to get roadside assistance

      The first step to getting started with roadside assistance is deciding which company and which coverage option is right for you. 

      To add roadside assistance to an existing insurance policy (or to sign up for a new insurance policy with a roadside assistance add-on), simply contact your insurance agent or adjust your coverage options on your insurer’s website. Coverage changes should be effective immediately. 

      To buy a standalone roadside assistance policy, shop around with the various service providers to see which company and which coverage level best meets your needs. From there, you can sign up for a policy by providing your contact, vehicle and payment information. 

      We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

      Reviewed by

      • Nashalie Addarich
        Nashalie Addarich
        Insurance Editor

        Nasha Addarich is an editor at The Simple Dollar and a former attorney who specializes in home insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, and savings. She is a former contributing editor to Reviews.com.