Think of 24-hour roadside assistance coverage for your truck or car like having another tool in your emergency kit. Roadside assistance can provide the services you need to get you back behind the wheel ASAP. Services include changing flat tires, fuel delivery, jump-starts, and lockout assistance. The national average cost for roadside assistance when added on to an auto insurance policy is $20/year.
Before you sign up for roadside assistance, it can be useful to know some basics. In this guide, we’ll look at what you can expect when you enroll in a roadside assistance program.
What Is 24-Hour Roadside Assistance?
Roadside assistance plans cover a range of problems that commonly affect motorists. Whether you’re stuck on a busy highway or a lonely roadside, in a mall parking lot or your own driveway, you can ask for help with a dead battery, flat tire, being locked out, and more. These programs not only cover cars and trucks but also motorcycles, RVs, and boat trailers.
Since problems can happen at any time, roadside assistance programs make their services available around the clock. There is no deductible for service calls. Depending on your plan, any costs you incur in an emergency may even be reimbursed.
Recommended: Ways to Save on Car Maintenance
What Are Some Benefits of 24-Hour Roadside Assistance?
Roadside assistance is designed to cover all drivers, but it can be especially useful for parents of young children, first-time drivers, and people with physical limitations. Probably the top benefit of having 24-hour roadside assistance coverage is that there’s a number to call any time you’re in need. You can keep that number programmed in your phone or put it in your wallet or glove compartment — or your provider may offer an app.
You can call for advice or hands-on assistance, and someone will help you get what you need. Some plans may even post bond if you’re charged with a traffic violation, or reimburse you if you need to stay in a hotel overnight because your car broke down. Some plans include other benefits, such as travel discounts and rewards points.
Recommended: How to Get Car Insurance
What Does 24-Hour Roadside Assistance Cover?
Assistance programs vary significantly depending on the service provider, the coverage level, and what you’re willing to pay. So when you’re comparing roadside assistance for cars and trucks, it’s important to understand the details of what each plan covers. Roadside assistance is not intended for use after an accident. In that case, 911 will arrange for help to arrive.
Most companies that offer roadside assistance programs set limits on what they will and won’t pay for. A provider may offer to deliver fuel to your vehicle for free, for example, but you can expect to be charged for the gas you receive. Similarly, roadside assistance may offer free lockout assistance, but there may be a charge if you need to have a new key made. If your car needs a tow, there may be a limit on how many miles you can go for free. There may also be a limit on how many service calls you can make in a year.
Plans have different rules on whether a particular driver or vehicle qualifies for a service call. With some plans, you must be driving your own car when you call for assistance. Other plans will cover you even if you’re the passenger or driver in someone else’s car.
Programs generally include some type of coverage for:
If your vehicle can’t be safely repaired or restarted onsite, roadside assistance can tow it to a nearby repair shop.
Battery Jump-Start or Replacement
Roadside assistance can give your dead battery a jump and, if that doesn’t work, install a new battery onsite or give you a tow.
Changing a Flat Tire
If you have a usable spare tire, your service provider likely can change a flat or blown-out tire onsite. If not, they can tow you somewhere for help.
If you’ve locked your keys in your car, roadside assistance can get a locksmith to help. Even if you’ve lost your keys, the service may be able to get you back in your vehicle and back on the road.
Stuck in snow, mud, sand, or water? Your service provider may bring in a winch to extricate your car or truck.
If you run out of gas, your provider can deliver fuel to your location. And if the battery in your electric car needs a charge, you can ask for a tow to the nearest charging station.
Quick Fix First-Aid
If you have a minor mechanical problem that can be fixed quickly, it may be possible to do so onsite. If not, the service can tow your car to a nearby repair shop.
Recommended: 10 Tips for the Cheapest Way to Rent a Car
What Are Some Ways Drivers Can Get 24-Hour Roadside Protection?
There are few different ways you can get roadside assistance coverage for yourself and your family members. For individuals who set aside time for personal insurance planning, consider adding roadside assistance to your list.
Auto Club Membership
Probably the best-known way to get 24-hour roadside assistance is through an auto club like AAA (pronounced “triple A”). The company will issue you a membership card with numbers to call for service. You may also be able to download an app or send a text to get service.
Plans range from $50 to $160 per year. Your price will depend on how many family members are covered, your location, and the services you’ve selected.
Credit Card Company Benefits
You may be able to access roadside assistance through one of your credit cards. Again, the cost for your overall coverage or a specific service will vary depending on the plan. For example, one credit card provides the service for free to its members but charges $69.95 for a standard service call, including 5 miles of towing.
Some car and truck manufacturers also offer roadside assistance as a perk for new car buyers. Your vehicle may come with protection that lasts for a few years or the length of your limited warranty, or it may be available for only a few months as a free trial for a service you can later purchase. Your sales agreement should provide the details on what your plan covers, or you can ask the dealership.
Car Insurance Company
Many car insurance companies make some type of roadside assistance coverage available to their customers. Some plans provide only the basics, while others may offer two or three different levels of coverage. Costs range from $2 to $5 a month, or $15 to $60 a year.
When you’re considering cost, keep in mind that you may be able to lower your car insurance cost by bundling it with other types of insurance coverage.
Recommended: How Much Does Insurance Go Up After an Accident?
Which Insurance Companies Offer 24-Hour Roadside Assistance?
Insurance companies that provide 24-hour roadside assistance typically offer the service as an add-on to an auto policy. However, in some instances you may be able to access a roadside protection membership without being a policyholder.
If you aren’t sure if you already have roadside protection, contact your agent or log in to your account on your insurer’s website to get information about your coverage. You may also view benefits via online insurance comparison sites. The information also may appear on your insurance card.
Here are a few companies that offer roadside assistance:
Allstate offers its 24-hour roadside assistance programs to both policyholders and non-policyholders. Costs and limitations will vary based on the plan you choose.
Geico’s roadside assistance program is available to policyholders as an add-on, and it covers most of the basics other plans offer. The cost is determined by the number of vehicles you want to cover.
To access Liberty Mutual’s 24-hour assistance program, which offers basic roadside services, you must purchase optional towing and labor coverage as an add-on to your policy.
Nationwide offers roadside assistance as an optional add-on for policyholders. The plan covers the same basic services offered by other insurers, but optional features and program details vary by state.
Emergency roadside assistance is available as an optional add-on for Progressive auto insurance policyholders. Progressive’s program covers service basics such as towing, jump-starts, lockout assistance, etc.
State Farm’s roadside assistance program is an add-on for policyholders. If you have this coverage and need assistance, State Farm will be billed directly for any basic services you receive, so you won’t have to worry about waiting to be reimbursed.
(The above coverages are accurate as of the writing of this article but may differ in the future.)
What Is the Average Cost of 24-Hour Roadside Assistance for Cars?
When added to your car insurance policy, roadside assistance coverage costs an average of $20 per year. The price of a roadside assistance plan can vary based on how many vehicles you want to cover, where you live, whether your coverage is through your auto insurance or some other source, and the level of coverage you choose.
Some plans charge less for coverage and more for services, and vice-versa. It’s a good idea to compare several different plans and choose the one that works best for your individual needs and budget.
Recommended: How to Lower Car Insurance
What Is the Average Cost of 24-Hour Roadside Assistance for Trucks?
The cost of roadside assistance for a pickup truck is similar to the cost for a car. If you have an RV or another large vehicle, however, you’ll need to check out a plan tailored for the problems you might encounter.
How Much Does 24-Hour Roadside Assistance Cost Without Insurance?
The national average cost of a tow without roadside assistance coverage is $109, or between $2.50 and $7 per mile.
What Makes 24-Hour Roadside Assistance Different from Other Coverage?
Standard car insurance is designed to protect car owners against financial losses when they’re in an accident, or if their car is damaged, stolen, or vandalized. But a standard auto policy doesn’t typically include roadside assistance for something like a flat tire or running out of gas. That’s a different kind of coverage, and it usually costs extra to add it to a car insurance policy.
Another difference: In most states, you are required to carry minimum required car insurance. You aren’t required to carry roadside assistance coverage. It’s your choice.
How Do You Choose a 24-Hour Roadside Assistance Program?
There are a few points you should consider when you’re shopping for a roadside assistance program:
Do You Already Have Protection?
If you aren’t sure, check your car warranty, credit cards, and your car insurance policy. Even if you are covered, it can be a good idea to compare your coverage to what’s available to make sure you have everything you need.
What Are the Coverage Limits?
Read the fine print for details and coverage limits before you sign up for a plan. Be sure you’re getting the services you expect and want most.
What Will It Cost?
Plans are generally low-cost, ranging from $20 to $150 per year. Compare the costs of different plans and determine which works best with your budget.
Does the Provider Get Good Reviews?
Don’t forget to check the provider’s reputation. Reliability is important when you’re stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow or jump-start. An important part of researching different plans includes reading customer reviews.
A 24-hour roadside assistance plan provides drivers with whatever help they need to get back on the road as soon as possible. Drivers typically get roadside assistance through their auto insurance, but you can also find it via credit card benefits, car manufacturers, and auto clubs like AAA. Prices vary from $20/year as an auto insurance add-on, to $50-$150/year through an auto club. Considering that the cost of a single tow without coverage can be over $100, many people say the cost of roadside assistance is well worth it.
If you’d like to check out roadside assistance options, you can start by going online to compare your current auto insurance plan and benefits with other major companies. SoFi makes comparing auto insurance policies and rates quick and convenient, so you can get the coverage you need at a price that feels right.
Does using roadside assistance increase your premium?
If you make only one or two claims a year, utilizing roadside assistance is unlikely to affect your insurance premium. But if you make more than 4-5 roadside assistance claims in a year, your insurance company may want an explanation.
What does roadside assistance cover?
Every plan is different, but most include basic coverage for lockout assistance, changing a flat tire, jump-starting a battery, fuel delivery, using a winch to extract a stuck vehicle, minor engine fixes, and towing.
Photo credit: iStock/nopponpat
Insurance not available in all states.
Experian is a registered service mark of Experian Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
Social Finance, Inc. ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.
Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.