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Buying roadside assistance

Winter is on its way and with it the risk of car trouble. For many of us, protecting our investment and personal safety means buying a road assistance plan for those times when the weather or some bump in the road stops you in your tracks.

The Canadian Automobile Association, or CAA, is the grandfather of roadside assistance plans and it is still, by far, the best known. However CAA is no longer the only option when it comes to roadside assistance. Everyone from President's Choice to Canadian Tire now offers a plan and the field is getting pretty competitive.

To learn about just a few of the different plans available, read on.

CAA
CAA has been offering peace of mind to drivers for generations. It's especially popular with parents of newly licensed teenagers, who want one less thing to worry about when their baby is out of the booster seat and into the driver's seat.

With CAA it's the driver, not the car, who carries the plan. That means if you're driving a friend's car and you suddenly run out of gas, require a jumpstart or need a tow, CAA is there for you. Unique to CAA's plans is that you can let your membership lapse and if you've been a member in the previous year and find you require their services, you can call CAA and renew on the spot.

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Their annual rates are also reasonable, ranging from $69.50 to $159.50 for a premier recreational vehicle membership.

Canadian Tire
Taking advantage of their automotive expertise, Canadian Tire offers a roadside assistance plan that includes a deal on some car services.

"We offer 7/24/365 phone coverage throughout Canada and the United States. With our Gold and Silver plan, we offer a coupon for a free lube, oil and filter change with each membership, as well as four coupons for lube, oil and filter changes at a special price of $19.95," says Canadian Tire spokesperson Cindy Avey. "We also offer unlimited tows to Canadian Tire Service Centres within your towing limits, trip planning guides and maps, and discounts at Choice Hotels."

Canadian Tire does not insist you use their services for your car; you can have your vehicle towed wherever you want. It's also possible to use Canadian Tire money towards the purchase of their plan. You don't, however, get any Canadian Tire money when you buy into the plan.

President's Choice
President's Choice has a long list of terms and conditions available on their site, but in general, the roadside assistance program is tailored to their credit card holders.

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-- Posted October 3, 2011
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