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Edited by John Leach
Last Updated July 22, 2021
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If your car gets a flat tire, runs out of gas, suffers a dead battery, or breaks down for mysterious reasons, a good roadside assistance program can be a lifesaver.
There are plenty of options out there. Take the time to compare available roadside assistance programs to make sure you’re getting good value for your money.
How roadside assistance works
Roadside assistance kicks in when you run into some trouble that makes your car undrivable. You might associate roadside assistance with breaking down on some lonely road, but you can also use these programs if you run into trouble while at home or work. For example, if you get in your car to go to the grocery store and it won’t start, you can call a roadside assistance representative for a jumpstart. Roadside assistance programs also typically cover flat tires, emergency towing, and more.
You may already have access to a roadside assistance program, as many insurance companies are now providing roadside assistance as a sideline. For example, most of the major insurance companies will let you add roadside assistance to your auto insurance policy. Other potential sources of roadside assistance include car manufacturers, credit card companies, and even cell phone service providers.
Best Roadside Assistance Programs (Car Insurance Companies)
Car insurance companies that offer roadside assistance often do so by attaching it to your existing auto insurance policy. In most cases, a roadside assistance rider on your auto insurance policy will only cost a few extra dollars a year.
Insurify lets you compare car insurance quotes from up to 10+ insurance providers at once. Compare full coverage or state minimum quotes and find the auto policy that fits your budget and driving needs! You can even see which quotes and carriers come with free or optional roadside assistance to make the most informed decision.
Here are the top auto insurance carriers with built-in or optional roadside assistance riders:
Allstate has three different service levels, all of which provide 24-hour roadside assistance, seven days a week.
1. If you don’t want to subscribe to a roadside assistance plan, you can use Allstate’s pay-per-use program. The cost per incident varies depending on what services you need but starts at $119 for towing. You can use this program whether or not you have an Allstate auto insurance policy.
2. Allstate policyholders can buy towing and labor coverage as an add-on to their auto insurance policies. The program includes towing service, jump starts, tire changes, fuel delivery, winching, and help when locked out of your vehicle, starting at $25 per year per vehicle.
3. Finally, Allstate has an annual membership plan available to anyone, whether or not you have an auto insurance policy through the company. The Allstate Motor Club program starts at $79 per year and includes the usual roadside assistance services, plus exclusive discounts and services. Family plans are available through this program.
Once you sign up for the Farmers Insurance roadside assistance add-on for your auto insurance policy, you have two basic options to get roadside assistance. First, you can call Farmers Insurance at 1 (800) 435-7764 or log into their website to request roadside assistance. Farmers will provide the usual services, including towing, battery jumpstart, tire change, and locksmith services. Or second, you can get roadside assistance from someone else and then file a claim with Farmers Insurance for reimbursement.
If you choose the latter option, make sure to get receipts from your roadside assistance provider; Farmers Insurance will want copies. You can file a claim for reimbursement on the Farmers Insurance website.
If you purchase the GEICO Emergency Road Service, you’ll get 24/7 roadside assistance, including towing, jump starts, tire changes, and lockout services (the latter includes up to $100 worth of locksmith assistance). The Emergency Road Service add-on starts at $14 per year per vehicle.
GEICO Emergency Road Service is built into the GEICO mobile app. You can use the app to request roadside assistance and use GPS to see how far away the dispatched vehicle is. Or, if you prefer, you can call for help on your phone the old-fashioned way.
You can add Progressive’s Emergency Roadside Assistance to your existing auto policy and get the usual services: towing, flat tire change, fuel delivery, jumpstart, or lockout assistance. With Emergency Roadside Assistance, you can have your car towed to the nearest qualified repair shop regardless of how far away that is. You can also get a tow to the repair shop of your choice if said shop is no more than 15 miles away.
Unlike some of its competitors, Progressive doesn’t have an app you can use to contact roadside assistance. If you need help and have Emergency Roadside Assistance on your Progressive auto insurance policy, call 1 (800) 776-2778.
The State Farm roadside assistance program is an optional add-on for State Farm auto insurance policyholders. It includes roadside assistance basics like towing, fuel delivery, tire change, and up to one hour of mechanical or locksmith labor at the breakdown scene. Expect to pay extra if you want your vehicle towed farther than the nearest qualified repair shop or if you need more than an hour of labor at the site.
State Farm policyholders can call for roadside assistance even if they don’t have the roadside assistance add on. They’ll just need to pay for those services rather than getting them free—although State Farm says that it negotiates “competitive prices” for policyholders in those circumstances. You can request emergency roadside service by going to the State Farm website or calling 1 (877) 627-5757.
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Best Roadside Assistance Programs (Non-Insurance)
Your auto insurance carrier isn’t the only option for roadside assistance. You may already have roadside assistance coverage through other providers.
Many big car companies now offer roadside assistance for a certain length of time on each new vehicle. Note that these roadside assistance programs apply to the vehicle, not the driver, so you’ll lose access to that particular program if you sell the car. Extended warranties on vehicles usually include even bigger and better roadside assistance programs.
If you’re not sure what sort of services you’ve got through the manufacturer, call them and ask. Since these programs come free with the vehicle, you may be able to save a lot of money if the provided roadside assistance is sufficient to meet your needs.
Credit card companies
The major credit card companies offer a range of roadside assistance programs. Roadside assistance through a credit card may require a monthly subscription; high-level cards sometimes include roadside assistance at no additional cost.
- American Express has a free Roadside Assistance Hotline that cardholders can use to get help 24/7. The hotline itself is free, but depending on which level of AMEX card you hold, you may need to pay for the actual service provided by roadside assistance personnel.
- Visa cardholders also have access to a 24/7 roadside assistance hotline called Roadside Dispatch. The helpline is free. Service calls cost $69.95 for basic roadside assistance services, including towing (up to five miles), tire changes, jumpstarts, locksmith services, and gas delivery (you have to pay for the fuel itself).
- MasterCard cardholders get a 24/7 roadside assistance hotline; theirs is called the Master RoadAssist Roadside Service. Fees for getting roadside assistance are “pre-negotiated” by MasterCard and vary based on the type of service provided; your card will be charged automatically.
Some companies don’t just offer roadside assistance as a perk; it’s one of their primary service lines. These companies tend to be more expensive, but they’ve often got a bigger pool of providers or a higher level of service than companies that merely dabble in roadside assistance.
The best-known auto club is unquestionably AAA. The company consists of regional auto clubs, but AAA roadside assistance services are much the same everywhere. AAA membership fees vary by region but generally run around $50 per year for the basic package (there are three packages in all).
- AAA Basic provides up to seven miles of towing, up to $50 of locksmith services, free tire changes, jumpstarts, and fuel delivery services (though you’ll have to pay for the fuel itself). It includes a few added benefits, such as a small number of trip interruption benefits, travel store discounts, and identity theft monitoring. You can make up to four roadside assistance service calls per year.
- AAA Plus includes everything in the AAA Basic package, except you get up to 100 miles of towing, up to $100 of locksmith services, and a higher trip interruption benefit.
- AAA Premie r kicks it up a notch higher with up to 200 miles on a single tow per year, a more substantial trip interruption benefit, a free day of emergency rental car service, home locksmith services, and the ability to add coverage for motorcycles, RVs, and trailers.
National General Motor Club
NGMC is a motor club with services similar to AAA’s. Like AAA, they have three different roadside assistance packages for subscribers:
- Basic includes up to five miles of towing, all the usual roadside assistance services, and up to $60 of locksmith services. The package costs $59 per year for singles and $69 for couples.
- Standard includes everything in the basic package, plus up to 20 miles of towing, up to $90 of locksmith services, trip interruption benefits, and the option to cover dependents under 21. The package costs $79 per year for singles and $94 for couples; each covered dependent adds $15 per year to the membership fees.
- Elite includes everything in the standard package, plus up to 100 miles of towing, up to $130 of locksmith services, and goodies like legal defense, arrest bonds, hospital emergency room bonds, and a $500 vehicle repair check guarantee. The package costs $89 per year for singles, $99 for couples, and $119 for a family membership.
Other roadside assistance companies
Some other companies or organizations may offer roadside assistance as well.
- Certain cell phone carriers have started offering roadside assistance to their customers. For instance, Verizon has a Roadside Assistance Service for three dollars per month per line. Check with your cell phone provider to see if they offer a similar program.
- If you belong to a large club or other organization, you may be able to get roadside assistance through them. For example, AARP has a roadside assistance program for members (Allstate provides their service as a courtesy to AARP members). Roadside assistance packages from AARP start at $64 per year.
Worst Roadside Assistance: Look out for tow truck fraud
After a serious accident renders your vehicle immobile, you might have to hire a towing company to move your car from the side of the road and store it in a lot until your insurance company can examine the damage. While this seems simple enough, you should also be vigilant to avoid being scammed by a bandit tow truck service. Towing and storage fees can be expensive enough with an honest company, but it can cost a fortune when your car is held hostage by a fraudulent business.
Read more about towing company fraud here, including tips on avoiding scam tow trucks and skyrocketing costs.
How to choose the best roadside assistance
The truth is, there is no one best roadside assistance program. Because different people have different needs, preferences, and living situations, the best roadside assistance package for you might be very different from the best package for me. When choosing your roadside assistance program, consider the following details:
- Do you have free or discounted roadside assistance from your vehicle manufacturer or another source? If so, start by checking the program’s details and see if it will be sufficient for your needs. If not, you may need to invest in additional coverage elsewhere.
- Do you travel a lot? In that case, you’ll want a plan with a lot of towing miles and possibly trip interruption benefits. Towing miles are also crucial if you do a lot of rural driving.
- Are there multiple family members you want to cover in the roadside assistance program? Then look for a family plan or other group package. One family plan will probably be a lot cheaper than buying individual coverage packages for each family member.
- Do you have more than one vehicle? Make sure you get a roadside assistance package that will cover all of them, such as the packages offered by most auto clubs.
- Do you rarely need roadside assistance? Then a pay-as-you-go plan might be a better deal for you than a monthly or annual fee.
You should also consider which roadside assistance benefits are particularly significant for you. For example, if you frequently lock yourself out of your vehicle, locksmith service will be a must-have. You’ll probably want to look for a package that provides a good coverage level for that particular service.
Once you’ve figured out what your ideal roadside assistance package would look like, you can start shopping providers and consider your options. Don’t forget to check for discounts and special offers as you call around—many roadside assistance providers regularly run promotional offers. With a little legwork, you can end up with a great roadside assistance package at an unbeatable price.
And shopping for insurance providers can be an even easier next step.
Compare car insurance quotes on Insurify or consider using our car insurance calculator to get the best deals in your area, whether you’re looking for a new roadside assistance plan or just curious about your rates. Save $10 a year, save $40 a month: it’s all possible with Insurify. Take five minutes to give your insurance rates a checkup today!
Roadside Assistance FAQ
Roadside assistance kicks in when you run into some trouble that makes your car undrivable. You might associate roadside assistance with breaking down on some lonely road, but you can also use these programs if you run into trouble while at home or work. Roadside assistance programs typically cover jumpstarts, flat tires, emergency towing, and more.
AAA consists of regional auto clubs, but its roadside assistance services are much the same everywhere. AAA membership fees vary by region, but generally run around $50 per year for the Basic package. AAA Basic provides up to seven miles of towing, up to $50 of locksmith services, free tire changes, jumpstarts, and fuel delivery services (though you’ll have to pay for the fuel itself). It includes a few added benefits, such as a small number of trip interruption benefits, travel store discounts, and identity theft monitoring. You can make up to four roadside assistance service calls per year.
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