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Roadside assistance plans are available through a variety of places, such as your car insurance, your credit card company or organizations, but not all roadside assistance plans are equal. Before selecting a plan for purchase, you should understand the fine print such as how much the plan costs, the coverage you can expect and who is covered under your plan.
What is roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance is a service you can purchase to provide help when you are unable to drive your car for some reason. Whether you have run out of fuel or you locked your keys in your car, you use this service to get your car moving again. If you find yourself needing assistance, you call the company you have a plan with or book help through an app.
Roadside assistance costs vary, depending on where you purchase the coverage and what services are included. You can purchase a plan through a variety of sources, including your car manufacturer, cell phone company or organizations. Your auto insurance and existing credit card may offer basic roadside assistance at no additional cost, so it’s wise to compare multiple plans.
What roadside assistance covers
The coverage provided by roadside assistance varies from carrier to carrier, but it typically covers:
- Towing services
- Tire change
- Battery jump-start
- Fuel delivery
- Winching services (when your car is stuck in ice, snow, a ditch or mud)
Best roadside assistance companies
Where you purchase your roadside assistance plan makes a difference not only with cost, but also what’s included. While cost is an important factor, make sure you are getting the coverage you need based on your unique driving habits.
AAA and Better World Club
Organizations such as AAA and Better World Club offer roadside assistance plans for purchase and a variety of options for coverage. Both organizations include all the services such as flat tire repair, winching and fuel delivery. The plans include a limited number of service calls per year for each covered member, typically between three to five calls.
A basic roadside assistance package with Better World Club starts at $58.95 per year and includes towing up to five miles. The roadside assistance plan cost is similar with AAA, but varies depending on your location. These plans are ideal for drivers who take multiple road trips far from home or drive an above-average number of miles per year. Plans through Better World Club and AAA both include trip interruption service, which reimburse you for costs if your car breaks down and you incur additional expenses.
Urgent.ly is a relative newcomer to the roadside assistance scene, using AI technology to connect you with service providers. As a member, if you need assistance, you place a call and are connected with a local service provider. You then track the progress of your call through the app.
Urgent.ly provides most options, including towing, lockout, tire change and winching. The membership pricing varies depending on location but is comparable to AAA or Better World Club. The AI technology used by Urgent.ly allows you to see the pricing for service up front. This service is helpful for those who like using the latest technology to get up front pricing on repairs and service. Roadside assistance reviews for Urgent.ly often cite quick service response and great communication as a plus.
Most car manufacturers include a free roadside assistance plan when you purchase a car. But the coverage is limited to a number of years or miles, whichever comes first. Typically this service transfers with the car so you can purchase a used car with availability of a plan remaining.
You can expect straightforward services such as towing and fuel delivery or tire change. But the extra benefits such as trip interruption service and discounts are typically not included. Coverage is limited to the vehicle only, so if you are riding in another car your service will not transfer. Service is limited to the service providers that work with your car manufacturer, limiting your choices.
Cell phone companies
Both AT&T and Verizon offer roadside assistance plans starting at $2.99 per month if you have a cell phone plan, but you can purchase a roadside plan even if you are not a current wireless customer.
The plans offer basic roadside assistance coverage for towing, winching and fuel delivery. You can request a service within 24 hours of enrolling, unlike most plans that require you to wait 72 hours before requesting assistance.
Credit card companies
If you like the idea of using a pay-per-use model for assistance, check with your credit card company. Most cards offer roadside assistance and it is included in your annual fee. The other benefit is there is no limit to the number of times you request the service, as long as you pay for each incident.
Car insurance companies
You can purchase roadside assistance as an optional coverage through most auto insurance companies. This is convenient to roll into your policy and covers anyone on your policy. Each company offers its own coverage plan, from pay-per-service to a specified number of incidents allowed each year. Some insurance companies, such as Geico, require you to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage in order to purchase a roadside assistance plan.
Who needs roadside assistance
If you don’t have coverage automatically included through your car insurance or credit card company and you find yourself wanting the peace of mind a roadside assistance plan brings.
There are other driving situations where you may want the additional assistance from a plan. If you:
- Drive an older car
- Have a long commute
- Are taking an upcoming road trip
- Can take advantage of other benefits offered with a roadside assistance plan
- Want greater peace of mind while driving
Frequently asked questions
What is the best car insurance company?
Bankrate has reviewed several auto insurance companies and rated State Farm the highest, with a 3.93 out of 5. This is based on customer satisfaction scores, financial strength and competitive rates for premiums.
Do I need an additional roadside assistance plan if I already have auto insurance?
Many auto insurance companies include roadside assistance as an option or as part of coverage, although it may only be available if you purchase comprehensive and collision. The coverage typically does not include any travel benefits or discounts, but covers basic emergency roadside needs.
Does a roadside assistance plan cover everyone in my household?
This depends on the provider of your roadside assistance plan. For example, car manufacturers are limited to the vehicle, no matter who is driving. Other plans, such as AAA, require you to purchase family coverage.