There are few things worse than being stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, a steaming radiator or a vehicle that just won’t run. It’s even worse if a breakdown happens at night and in the middle of nowhere.
According to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, the average car on the road in 2015 was about 11.5 years old, making the possibility of being stranded very real.
When a breakdown happens, your main concern is getting help as quickly as possible, which is where roadside assistance comes in handy. These days roadside assistance is available from a wide variety of sources, but one of the most cost-effective sources is your car insurance company.
While this coverage lacks some of the bells and whistles that come with an AAA membership, if your main concern is getting your vehicle off the road, car breakdown insurance is often the most affordable option.
All roadside assistance programs provide a certain level of standard services, and some programs add perks that may include discounts on travel, shopping, and car rental. While these perks can be a nice add-on, they are of zero help when you are stranded on the side of the road, and they usually push up the price.
The basics, and the most useful features of a roadside assistance program, usually include the following:
It’s important to understand the limitations of your plan. Exclusions vary, so read the policy carefully. Common exclusions include:
Another important factor when deciding on roadside assistance is the service you receive. Service levels can vary, so it pays to do your research and read reviews.
One last factor to consider is cost. Prices vary depending on the insurance company, but expect to pay $2 to $5 a month for basic towing and services. Compare this to the AAA Plus membership, which runs around $151 a year for two members. While these plans do offer extras, services are very comparable for the most important services such as towing and flat tire repair the services, making roadside assistance through your insurer a bargain.
Many car manufacturers are now offering roadside assistance as part of their warranty, so if you recently purchased a brand-new car, you may already have limited roadside assistance. Coverage levels can vary dramatically, and in many cases the plans stipulate that cars will be towed to a dealership.
Manufacturer roadside assistance programs usually expire after a certain number of years, usually between 3 and 5 years.
Services vary dramatically between manufacturer plans, so it pays to read the details. While some programs offer locksmith and tire changing services, others only offer towing and may limit service to “warrantable mechanical conditions,” meaning you may end up paying for the tow if the issue turns out to the a non-qualifying problem.
In many cases, adding basic roadside assistance coverage from your insurer makes sense and provides the peace of mind that comes from knowing you will be covered regardless of the circumstances.
Older vehicles are prime candidates for roadside assistance, as they are prone to breakdowns. If your car is over 10 years old or has over 100,000 miles on the odometer, roadside assistance is a must, especially if you go on long road trips.
Depending on the age and condition of your vehicle, adding roadside assistance coverage to your car insurance can be as low as a few dollars a month, offering dramatic savings over a standalone policy. In most cases, the cost of one tow will easily exceed the cost of a roadside assistance insurance policy.
Here are just a few reasons you should protect your older vehicle with a roadside assistance policy:
Consider car insurance with roadside assistance if any of the following apply to you and your vehicle:
A Trusted Choice® independent agent can review your current policy to determine if you already have roadside assistance coverage and help you find the perfect plan to fit your needs and budget.
Shopping for a roadside policy is just like any other purchase: Do your research, ask questions and shop around. A Trusted Choice agent can help you sort through your options, but make sure you ask the right questions. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for roadside assistance coverage:
Consider other perks offered by the various programs and decide if they are worth the cost for you. In almost all cases, roadside assistance through an insurance company will be cheaper than a standalone product, so if the perks don’t excite you, a roadside policy is usually the best option.
It’s possible that you already have roadside assistance. Many full-service auto insurance policies include this type of coverage, but it’s not standard, so it’s best to verify coverage.
A Trusted Choice agent can review your policy and explain the details of your current roadside assistance, if any is offered. If coverage is not offered on your current policy or the coverage is not enough for your needs, you can work with your agent to get your policy updated. An independent agent will help you assess your coverage needs and present a variety of options that offer the best roadside assistance coverage at a price that fits your budget. Contact a local agent to get personalized quotes today.