Roadside assistance vs. AAA
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There are dozens of roadside assistance options available for drivers. Not only do major auto insurance carriers offer this add-on as an optional coverage, but several third-party companies also offer their own service. However, not all roadside assistance programs are the same. While some companies provide the actual physical assistance, other coverage types exist to connect you to a local service provider based on location. To make sure you are properly protected in the event of a roadside emergency, it is important to understand the major differences between the coverage and a standalone service like AAA.
- Roadside assistance services can help aid drivers during roadside emergencies such as running out of fuel, getting locked out of your vehicle, getting a flat tire, having a dead battery, or needing a tow.
- Each insurance carrier, company or membership provider that offers roadside assistance offers different coverage levels at varying prices.
- Roadside assistance through a membership company like AAA may offer more perks and non-roadside benefits to drivers to substantiate the annual membership cost.
What is roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance is a service that provides help when you find your vehicle inoperable. Whether the incident occurs while the vehicle is parked in a driveway, on the highway or even while driving out of town, roadside assistance is available to provide service when needed.
Examples of services include:
- Vehicle refueling when your vehicle runs out of gas
- Locksmithing services
- Flat tire changing or spare tire mounting
- Extracting your vehicle from a collision
- Jump-starting a dead battery
Roadside assistance plans are offered through almost all auto insurance carriers. The actual services offered through each carrier are quite varied, with some companies only offering towing up to a certain number of miles, or a limited number of lockout and fuel delivery services.
Membership organizations, such as AAA, are another option for roadside assistance. These organizations tend to offer additional perks on top of the roadside assistance, making it more enticing to enroll in an annual membership.
You can also purchase roadside assistance through other companies, such as your cell phone carrier or a credit card company. Car manufacturers also offer plans and it is possible it is included for a certain number of miles when you first purchase a vehicle.
What is AAA?
AAA was founded in 1902 and is all-in-all a car, travel and insurance company. Many people recognize AAA as a company providing insurance products, travel discounts and roadside assistance. Over the years, AAA has grown to include a wide variety of financial products, including home mortgages, banking and credit cards.
AAA charges a yearly fee for the roadside assistance and bundles the program with other discounts and incentives besides vehicle services. There may be an extra charge for extended towing miles.
AAA membership packages
AAA is also well known for its roadside assistance program and the coverage is sold as a membership package.
AAA offers three levels of membership options, with each level increasing in the number of benefits and perks. However, exact plan inclusions may vary based on your location or ZIP code One example of the packages available in the Carolina include.
- Basic: This is the most basic option. It provides up to five miles towing, lockout service, tire change, fuel delivery (you pay for the fuel) and a battery jumpstart. Plus, the membership comes with various discounts for attractions and services across the country.
- Plus: This package level provides up to 100 miles in towing and increased locksmith benefits, plus free fuel if you need AAA to provide fuel delivery. There are numerous other increased benefits, including higher accidental travel coverage and other perks.
- Premier: This level provides up to 200 miles of towing, even greater locksmith and legal defense coverage, identity theft insurance, free passport photos and all of the benefits of the lower package options.
Overall, the membership packages provide a large network for roadside assistance, plus many other travel, auto and home-related discounts and benefits.
How do I know if AAA or roadside assistance is right for me?
There are a few points to keep in mind before deciding if you want to purchase a roadside assistance plan through an insurance carrier versus AAA. Budget is definitely a top consideration for many drivers. If your budget is limited, it helps to compare the costs between several providers to find which one offers you the most beneficial coverage for your money. Purchasing a plan through your insurance carrier might allow you greater budgeting flexibility since you are able to spread the cost out each month if needed.
Another consideration is how much you will use the additional benefits provided by a membership service, such as AAA, versus a straightforward roadside assistance program. You could weigh the likelihood of you taking advantage of the many benefits offered by the membership service, or consider if you only use a handful of options while on the road.
How do I purchase roadside assistance?
If you choose to purchase AAA, you can sign up either online or by calling the customer service number, or sending in your application through the mail. If you are interested in purchasing roadside assistance through a carrier, you could add it on during your policy renewal period, either online, via the app, through your agent or by calling customer service.
The table below compares some of the most popular roadside assistance programs available to a wide range of drivers, including both the costs and what makes the program one to consider.
|Company||Roadside assistance cost||Standout feature|
|AAA||Starting at $59/year||Multiple options to fit a variety of budgets|
|Geico||Starting at $14/year||Drivers can request assistance in as little as two minutes|
|Allstate||Starting at $8/year||You can track the location of the towing assistance|
|Better World Club||Starting at $62/year||Eco-friendly option for roadside assistance|
|AT&T||Starts at $3/month||No annual contract required|
Frequently asked questions
Each plan has different rules regarding who is covered within a single plan, so it is important to verify this before making your decision. For example, AAA only covers the person who is the account holder, unless you purchase the family coverage plan.
The cost of the roadside assistance plan depends on the carrier or company you are purchasing from. The cost may vary depending on your state and number of drivers on the account. Some plans are as little as a few dollars per month, but the costs are quite varied.
This depends on which one offers you the options which work the best for your driving habits. For example, if you drive an older vehicle and are concerned about needing towing at some point, consider a roadside assistance program with this option.
Most roadside assistance plans travel with the person and not the vehicle. This means if you are in someone else’s car but you have a roadside assistance plan, you should be able to get the same coverage as if it were your own vehicle. However, this can vary depending on the company, so you will need to verify this beforehand to avoid making service calls to your roadside assistance provider.