Is roadside assistance worth it?

Whether on your daily commute or a long road trip, the last thing anyone wants is car problems. A roadside assistance membership can provide safety, convenience and peace of mind, but is it worth the money? 

Roadside assistance is an optional membership that provides certain services, from replacing a dead battery to extricating your car if you get stuck in the mud or snow. A membership typically costs anywhere from $30-$100 annually, and can be worth the investment especially if you live in an area that gets severe weather like heavy snow and ice, you drive more than 20,000 miles per year or your car is unreliable. Roadside assistance is offered by many companies and can sometimes even be added to your existing auto insurance policy.

What Roadside Assistance Does and Doesn’t Cover

Roadside assistance can provide a lifeline when you’re in a tough situation, but what exactly does it cover? Before you call your roadside assistance provider for help, it’s important to know what they can do for you and what might cost an extra fee. Coverage for each service may differ based on your roadside assistance company, and many companies offer multiple membership tiers, so your coverage will also vary depending on your specific plan.

Typically covered by roadside assistance:

  • Short-distance towing. The towing distance will depend on the roadside assistance company, but a tow truck should be able to deliver your car to the nearest repair shop in a three to five mile radius.
  • Battery jump-start. If your battery dies and you need a jump-start, roadside assistance can send help.
  • Tire change (with spare). If you have a spare tire available, roadside assistance will come and change your tire. 
  • Fuel delivery. Delivery of up to three gallons of fuel, if you run out, is covered. Some companies also offer delivery of other fluids, like oil, if needed.
  • Lockout services. If you need lockout or locksmith services, which can help you get into your car if you lock your keys in your car or lose them. 
  • Winching. If you get stuck in the mud, snow or sand, roadside assistance can send someone to extricate your car and get you back on the road.
  • Minor repairs. A small repair that can be performed on the side of the road might be within your coverage.

Typically not covered by roadside assistance:

  • Accident assistance. Roadside assistance does not replace emergency services. If you’re in an accident, dial 911.
  • Long-distance towing. If you need your car towed beyond your service area, you will have to pay out-of-pocket.
  • Major repairs. Any repair that requires a tow to a mechanic will not be covered, but some roadside assistance memberships come with discounts at approved auto shops.
  • Roadside diagnosis. If there are notification lights on your dashboard, it might require an OBD-II scanner to be hooked up to your car for diagnosis. This can cost an additional fee.
  • Tire replacement (without spare). If you do not have a spare tire available, you might need tire repair or replacement which will require a tow to a tire shop.
  • Cosmetic repairs. Dents, dings or scratches will not be covered by your roadside assistance plan. You will need a body shop for those repairs.

Can I get roadside assistance through my auto insurance?

Many auto insurance companies offer a roadside assistance option to members, with an additional fee beyond your insurance premiums. If your auto insurance carrier does not offer roadside assistance, you can still find a membership with an auto club like AAA, Better World Club (an eco-friendly roadside assistance program) or GoodSam. Many vehicle manufacturers and credit card companies also offer roadside assistance programs. You might even be eligible through your mobile phone carrier: both Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile offer roadside assistance memberships with certain plans. The options for roadside assistance programs and memberships are extensive and vary in price and coverage. With a little bit of research, you can find the plan that best fits your needs.

Ready to add roadside assistance to your auto insurance policy? SelectQuote can help.

SelectQuote can help you explore your roadside assistance coverage options. Whether you’re looking to add roadside assistance to your current auto insurance coverage or shopping for a new policy, our licensed insurance agents will be there every step of the way to answer your questions. SelectQuote’s proprietary technology allows us to search and compare multiple carriers and plans in just minutes so we can make sure to match you with a plan that fits your needs and budget.

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