The road is unpredictable, you never know what can possibly happen in the middle of your trip. Even if your vehicle or trailer is in tip-top shape before the journey, there’s still that possibility of a flat tire or a breakdown. What if the unexpected happens to you in the middle of nowhere? Who will you call for help?

Roadside assistance covers you for such emergencies. It will help get you back on the road for a minimal to no cost at all, depending on your policy.

How to get roadside assistance coverage

1. As an add-on to your car insurance policy

Some insurers offer roadside assistance coverage as part of the premium. Usually though, it is an add-on to your policy. There are also insurers that offer roadside assistance as part of your comprehensive car insurance policy or as a stand-alone policy. You could check major insurance companies such as Esurance and Allstate, among others, for the type of coverage they can offer you.

2. Signing up with membership-based roadside assistance

Motor clubs such as Allstate Motor Club and AAA offer different levels of packages that usually include roadside assistance. Cheaper packages may include a limited number of calls, while the most expensive covers may include services such as car hire and accommodation.

3. Others

There are also organizations that offer roadside assistance but is typically limited to a particular state or area. Another option which you might consider are app-based roadside assistance providers such as Urgent.ly.

Roadside assistance insurance vs motor clubs

Insurers and motor clubs are the two most popular providers of roadside assistance cover. Here’s how the services differ, depending on where you are getting your coverage:

Insurers

  • 24/7 service
  • Assistance in case of breakdowns
  • Limited towing distance or cost
  • Assistance is limited to the covered car only

Motor clubs

  • 24/7 service
  • Assistance in case of breakdowns
  • Assistance may also be available for your friend’s or family’s car, if you are using it
  • Trip planning interruption coverage is included
  • Limited towing distance and cost

How much does a roadside assistance cover cost?

The cost of roadside assistance varies depending on your local service provider and your area. That’s why it is best to first shop around and compare your options before getting one. 

Generally, the plans cost about $5 per month. Some options may be cheaper or more expensive, depending on the coverage. Your coverage may include access to emergency assistance and free labor cost. However, typically, you’ll need to pay for fuel, parts and supplies to get you back on the road.

Basic Roadside Assistance Services

Towing – If your truck breaks down at the side of the road, or for some reason is no longer safe to drive and you need to bring it to a mechanic, the cost of towing can be expensive. If you have the right roadside assistance coverage, it can help cover the cost. 

Depending on your provider, there may be a limit on the distance that you can travel. Beyond that, you will be charged extra. 

Flat tires – Most hotshotters know how to change their flat tires. However, if for some reason you can’t, you might as well take advantage of roadside assistance. Just make sure that you have a spare handy so that you’ll not get charged extra.

Mechanic service – Mechanic service is usually offered by insurance providers. They can help you with minor repairs needed just to help you get back on the road. 

Jump start – This problem may not apply to all types of vehicles. However, if you frequently need help with jump starting, you might as well take advantage of roadside assistance service.

Fluid delivery – Are you low on oil or gas? Your insurer or motor club can send a mechanic to bring to you what you need. Some roadside service providers will charge for the fuel on top of the price of the gas delivered to you.

Extrication – If your vehicle gets stuck and you need help in moving the vehicle, you could also call your roadside assistance provider for help. 

Lockout service and locksmith service – Forgot your key inside the cabin or have misplaced it? You have nothing to worry about if you have roadside assistance coverage. Most coverage include lockout and locksmith services. 

What’s not covered by roadside assistance?

Roadside assistance is generally limited to minor or small-scale mechanical issues. You may not be able to get a cover for:

  • Damages as a result of an accident 
  • Towing outside specified limits
  • Battery replacement
  • Breakdown as a result of a pre-existing condition
  • If your vehicle is old or antique
  • Commercial vehicles such as limousines or taxis
  • If you fell out of a ditch that is too difficult to maneuver
  • If you are in a very remote area you may be covered, but it will cost extra charges
  • You may not get assistance during snowstorm, hurricane and other extreme weather conditions

Getting roadside assistance without an existing coverage

Even if you are not yet covered, major roadside assistance providers may allow you to get a coverage when your vehicle needs help, but they’ll charge you with an additional on-the-go fee. This fee generally applies if you need assistance within 24-48 hours of membership.

Some insurance companies also allow you to request a roadside assistance service at the time of the emergency even if you don’t have a coverage yet. This can be an expensive option but can help you get out of a bad situation, especially if you are in the middle of nowhere and don’t know who to call. One example of this is Allstate through their Good Hands Rescue Pay Per Use Program.

Alternatively, you may also opt for a one-off help in times of emergency. Many stand-alone roadside assistance providers offer this kind of service. So instead of getting an add-on insurance or joining a membership program and pay for a year or emergency services, you’ll only pay for the one-off assistance that you need. This can be cheaper, considering that you’ll not have to pay the on-the-go charge. 

It’s important to note that stand-alone assistance can become a very expensive option if you have more than one callout a year.

Whichever option you choose, whether you are getting an insurance add-on, motor club membership or standalone assistance, always read the terms and conditions so you know what’s included and not included in the service.