What Is Roadside Assistance and How Does It Work?

Drivers have many options for buying a roadside assistance plan that can ensure they get help if their car breaks down while they’re driving.

Jerry Brown
Written byJerry Brown
Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown
  • 4+ years of experience writing about personal finance

  • MBA from the University of Chicago

Jerry’s personal finance interest stemmed from his journey toward freedom from debt. He’s since covered insurance, debt management, and personal loans for major publications.

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Katie Powers
Edited byKatie Powers
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Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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Updated July 18, 2024

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Whether your car stalls in the middle of a busy highway, you lock your keys inside it, or you get a flat tire, roadside assistance coverage can help you get back on the road safely. This coverage connects you with a professional for service, usually at a discounted price.

Many insurers allow you to purchase roadside assistance as an add-on to your existing car insurance policy, but you can purchase it in various other ways.[1]

Here’s what you should know about roadside assistance, including how it works, what it covers, and where to purchase it.

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Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from July 18, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

What is roadside assistance?

Roadside assistance is a service that dispatches a professional to help you with vehicle issues like flat tires, dead batteries, and lost keys, regardless of whether they happen on the side of the road, at your place of employment, or at your home.

For this coverage, you generally have to pay a yearly or per-service fee to a roadside assistance service provider in exchange for a discounted rate on services like towing or lockout assistance. Roadside assistance is crucial because it can help you return to the road safely and save you money.

What does roadside assistance cover?

Roadside assistance benefits vary by company, but it generally includes access to these services at a discounted or flat per-service rate:

  • Towing

  • Lockout service

  • Tire change

  • Jump-starts

  • Transportation assistance

  • Gas delivery

  • Winching

Do you need roadside assistance coverage?

Without roadside assistance coverage, you may want to try to fix your car troubles, like a flat tire or needed jump-start, on your own to save money. But this option only works for people with the knowledge required to complete various vehicle repairs. Plus, if you call a professional for assistance, you may end up paying more without roadside assistance coverage.

Whether you need roadside assistance depends on your unique situation. If you drive infrequently, for example, purchasing a roadside assistance plan might not be worth it. Frequent drivers who regularly travel long distances will likely benefit from securing roadside assistance coverage.

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Where to get roadside assistance

You can purchase roadside assistance coverage from several places. Here’s where to look for coverage.

Insurance companies

Many insurance providers allow you to add roadside assistance coverage as an add-on or rider to your existing policy. Cost and coverage options vary by insurer.

Here are some of the best insurance companies offering roadside assistance:

  • GEICO: The company offers emergency roadside assistance that comes with access to towing, jump-starts, lockout services up to $100, and other benefits.

  • Nationwide: The roadside assistance coverage from Nationwide provides access to services such as tire changes, jump-starts, and lockout services up to $100.

  • State Farm: Roadside assistance coverage from State Farm includes access to many services, including towing, gas delivery, and lockout.

Car manufacturers

Some car manufacturers offer complimentary roadside assistance when you finance or lease a new vehicle.

Some of the best car manufacturers offering roadside assistance include:

  • Chrysler: When you lease or finance a new Chrysler vehicle, you get complimentary roadside coverage for up to five years or 60,000 miles for gas engines (100,000 for diesel engines). This coverage includes access to towing, jump-starts, and tire changes.

  • Dodge: New financed or leased Dodge vehicles also come with five years of complimentary roadside coverage.

  • Hyundai: New Hyundai vehicles come with five years of access to roadside assistance coverage. Services include jump-starts, gas delivery, lockout aid, towing, and trip interruption.

Credit card companies

Many credit card companies offer roadside assistance as a benefit. But before you apply for a card that provides roadside assistance, consider potential drawbacks. For example, some credit cards come with steep annual fees and high interest rates.

Here’s a look at some of the best credit card companies offering roadside assistance:

  • Bank of America: The Premium Rewards® credit card comes with access to Bank of America’s Roadside Dispatch program — a pay-per-use program that charges you $59 per service call and includes services such as towing, fuel delivery, and jump-starts.

  • Capital One: A few Capital One cards — Venture®, Savor®, and Quicksilver® — give cardholders access to roadside assistance benefits, such as gas delivery, towing, and tire changes, in exchange for a flat fee.

  • Chase: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Freedom Unlimited® credit cards allow you to access various services for a flat rate, including tire changes, winching, jump-starts, and fuel delivery.

Keep in Mind

If a credit card’s fees exceed the cost of a separate roadside assistance plan, opening the card just to get the “free” plan might not be a good financial move.

Auto clubs

An auto club is an organization you can join that offers roadside assistance coverage and sometimes other benefits, such as discounts for restaurants, movie theaters, and travel.[2] Auto club membership costs vary but often range from $50 to $360 annually, depending on your plan.

Here are some of the top auto clubs offering roadside assistance:

  • American Automobile Association: The AAA membership includes four service calls per year for various services, including towing, battery jump, and gas delivery.[3] Each additional service call after the allotted four costs $90.

  • Better World Club: Roadside services include trip interruption, lockout, and towing. Better World Club includes four service calls per year.

  • Good Sam: Membership comes with discounted access to services, including battery jumps, tire changes, and fuel delivery.

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Roadside assistance FAQs

Find answers below to some commonly asked questions about roadside assistance.

  • What happens when you call roadside assistance?

    When you call roadside assistance, a customer representative usually asks you to provide your vehicle information, location, and a description of your car’s problem. Afterward, the roadside assistance representative will dispatch a professional to assist you.

  • Does insurance typically cover roadside assistance?

    Insurers generally allow you to purchase roadside assistance coverage as an optional add-on or rider. Most insurers offer this optional coverage, but you can also purchase roadside assistance through car manufacturers, credit card companies, and auto clubs.

  • What is the average cost of roadside assistance?

    The price of a roadside assistance plan generally ranges from $15 to $360 per year. Your exact costs will depend on many factors, such as your plan provider and the level of coverage you need. For instance, a roadside assistance plan purchased from an auto insurance provider often costs less than one purchased from an auto club.

  • Where can you get roadside assistance coverage?

    You can purchase roadside assistance from several places, including car manufacturers, credit card companies, auto clubs, and auto insurers. To find the option that best fits your needs and budget, you should compare costs, coverage limits, services provided, and the number of service calls allowed per year across as many companies as possible.

  • Does using roadside assistance count as a filed claim?

    Using roadside assistance could count as a filed claim if you purchased coverage through an insurer. If you use roadside assistance occasionally, it’s not likely to affect your insurance rates. But if you use it too often, your insurer could raise your premiums.

Sources

  1. Massachusetts Division of Insurance. "Basics of Auto Insurance."
  2. Consumer Reports. "Car Insurance Buying Guide."
  3. J.D. Power. "How To Join AAA And Make Sure You Have Roadside Assistance Coverage?."
Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown

Jerry has been writing about personal finance for over four years. He started writing about personal finance in 2017 to document his journey to get rid of thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Two years ago, he pivoted away from writing for his own blog to focus on writing for major publishers like Bankrate, Forbes Advisor and Credible. He covers a variety of topics, including insurance, debt management and personal loans.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

Featured in

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