Best roadside assistance programs
Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com
There’s nothing worse than getting stranded on the side of the road with a drained battery, flat tire or empty gas tank. Fortunately, roadside assistance programs can help you get back on the road after experiencing car trouble. In this article, we’re breaking down what roadside assistance covers and comparing roadside assistance carriers.
What does roadside assistance cover?
Roadside assistance covers common car issues that prevent you from driving. If you experience car trouble, a technician will meet you and try to fix the problem on the spot. If the problem can’t be fixed, roadside assistance will cover towing to an auto body shop or car dealership for further evaluation. Here are some of the things that roadside assistance will typically cover:
- Repairing a flat tire
- Jump starting a drained battery
- Fuel delivery
- Locking your keys in the car
- Winching if your car gets stuck in snow or mud
AAA vs auto insurance carriers
Roadside assistance is available through most car insurance companies as an add-on to your personal auto policy. It’s also sold through third-party providers like AAA. If you’re considering roadside assistance through your insurance provider vs. AAA, there’s a few things you should be aware of.
First, roadside assistance from AAA is more expensive than what’s offered by car insurance companies. Despite the higher cost, AAA offers tons of benefits and added perks for members that you don’t get from car insurance roadside assistance, like auto repair discounts, free identity theft monitoring and rental car discounts. AAA also has several tiered packages you can choose from depending on your needs. Here’s a look at what’s covered through AAA Plus roadside assistance vs. car insurance roadside assistance:
|AAA Plus||$89||Yes, up to 100 miles||Yes||Yes||Yes, up to $100||Yes||Yes|
|Geico||$14||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, up to $100||Yes||Yes|
|Allstate||$79 for non-policyholders, $25 for insurance add-on||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Progressive||N/A||Yes, up to 15 miles||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Farmers||N/A||Yes, up to $150||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, within 10 ft of paved road|
AAA and Farmers have the best towing benefits. With AAA’s Plus plan, you get up to 100 miles of towing and up to four calls per year. Farmers will cover up to $150 in towing costs, which should be enough to reach a local auto body shop if you’re near home. Every other company we reviewed offers towing, but didn’t specify the maximum distance.
These roadside assistance providers all offer coverage for jump starting a drained car battery. However, most companies will not cover the cost of replacement parts, including a new battery. Chances are, you’ll have to pay for a replacement battery, but the cost of labor is included with your plan.
All of the companies we reviewed offer flat tire services. When you call roadside assistance, a mechanic will bring a temporary tire that allows you to continue driving until you can get the tire fully replaced. If you have a spare tire in your car, the mechanic can change it on the spot.
If you accidentally lock your keys inside the car, roadside assistance can help you out. All of the companies listed above offer this service. If you have AAA Plus and Geico roadside assistance, you’ll get reimbursed for up to $100 for the cost of lockout services.
Roadside assistance comes in handy when you run out of gas. All of the providers we reviewed offer fuel delivery. AAA will deliver fuel for free and will pay for enough fuel for you to reach the nearest gas station. Most other companies will deliver fuel for free and charge you for the cost of gas.
The companies we evaluated all offer winching or extrication services. This comes in handy if your car gets stuck in sand, snow or mud. Farmers will cover winching if your car is within 10 feet of the road and AAA will cover winching for any distance as long as the car can be safely reached from a normally traveled road.
Review of other roadside assistance providers
AAA is arguably the best known roadside assistance company, but there are some other organizations that offer roadside assistance. Here’s a quick review of several other types of companies that offer roadside assistance coverage.
Some car manufacturers include roadside assistance when you buy a new vehicle. The coverage is usually limited, ending after a certain number of years or miles traveled. Roadside assistance coverage through your auto manufacturer is beneficial because it’s completely free. However, it won’t last forever, and if you get a new car, your coverage won’t follow you.
|Ford||Free for 5 years or 60,000 miles||Yes, up to 35 miles||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, up to 2 gallons of gas free||Yes, up to 100 ft from paved road|
|Toyota||Free for 2 years or 25,000 miles||Yes, up to 25 miles||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Volkswagen||Free for 3 years or 36,000 miles||Yes, free towing to nearest dealership||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, gas and delivery are free||No|
|Land Rover||Free for 4 years or 50,000 miles||Yes, up to 50 miles||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mitsubishi||Free for 5 years, no mileage maximum||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Many credit card companies offer roadside assistance coverage as a perk for cardholders. Depending on the card, you may have to pay extra for coverage, or it might come free with your credit card. Here are some of the credit cards that include roadside assistance:
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||$550||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||Free||Yes, up to 5 miles||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, up to 5 gallons||Yes, within 100 ft of paved road|
|Capital One Venture Rewards||$95||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|United Explorer Card||$95||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
The other place you might be able to get roadside assistance is through your phone company. AT&T offers coverage for as low as $2 per month, and you get all the basics, like lockout assistance, fuel delivery, and more. Verizon offers a similar roadside assistance plan for about $4 per month.
|A&T||$2||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, 3 free gallons||Yes|
|Verizon||$4||Yes, up to 10 miles||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, 3 free gallons||Yes|
Is roadside assistance necessary?
Roadside assistance is a “nice to have” but not a must-have. However, it can be beneficial for many drivers, whether you get it from your car insurance company, your auto manufacturer, your credit card company or AAA.
If you tend to drive short distances and don’t mind paying out-of-pocket for services like towing, you can probably get by without it. Roadside assistance is more helpful for people who drive far distances, have an older car or don’t have a mechanic who can inspect and repair their car if something goes wrong.
Alternatives to roadside assistance programs
If you don’t want to purchase a roadside assistance plan, make sure to keep the phone number of a towing company handy in case you get stuck. It also helps to have a reliable mechanic near your home that can evaluate your car if it needs repairs. The other alternative is to brush up on your auto repair skills. If you can change a tire or jumpstart a car yourself, keep the tools on hand to do so. Some drivers even keep extra gas in their trunk or truck bed in case of emergencies.
- Roadside assistance will cover car repairs, like a flat tire, drained battery or empty fuel tank.
- You can get roadside assistance through your car insurance company, credit card company, auto manufacturer or a third-party provider, like AAA.
Roadside assistance can be a major life saver if you get stranded while you’re driving. It covers everything from flat tire repairs to emergency fuel deliveries. There are tons of ways to get roadside assistance, whether it’s through your car insurance company, your credit card company, your auto manufacturer or a membership organization like AAA. Before you get roadside assistance, make sure you’re not already covered. Then, compare prices and plans to see which one makes the most sense for you.