Nothing can turn a good day into a bad day quite like car problems. Whether it’s a flat tire or an empty gas tank, an issue on the road can quickly derail your plans and ruin your day. But roadside assistance programs are designed to come to the rescue when car troubles rear their head. So how exactly do they work and where can you get one?
Here’s everything you need to know about roadside assistance programs.
What is roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance is an optional service that you can sign up for which can assist you when your vehicle breaks down for a variety of reasons. If your vehicle breaks down your roadside assistance program will send emergency service to you that can assist with whatever the issue may be. These programs can also help offset the cost of the repairs, which can be very costly. What exactly is covered by roadside assistance plans will vary greatly, but here are some examples of what might be covered by your plan:
- Fuel delivery
- Electric vehicle charging
- Lockout services
- Transportation for stranded passengers
Should I get roadside assistance?
In general it’s a good idea to have a roadside assistance program to help you prepare for the unexpected. But there are certain people who may find it more necessary than others. You should consider roadside assistance if:
- You have an older and/or unreliable car
- You are unfamiliar with handling car-related emergencies, such as changing a tire
- You drive a lot and/or take frequent road trips
- You want the additional discounts and benefits that stand alone policies offer
- You like the peace of mind that comes with coverage
Where can I get roadside assistance?
If you are looking for a roadside assistance program there are many different places that offer them. Their offerings will vary so you will need to think through what type of plan will be of most value to you.
When you buy a new car many manufacturers will throw in a roadside assistance plan for a set time period. Since these programs are included in your purchase it’s good to take advantage of them, but these plans usually only cover towing to an authorized dealership. Here are some examples of roadside assistance through car manufacturers:
- Ford: Free roadside assistance up to 60,000 or five years
- Hyundai: Free roadside assistance for five years
- Toyota: Free roadside assistance for two years
- Volkswagen: Free roadside assistance for three years or 36,000 miles
Your car insurance provider may offer a roadside assistance program that you can add on to your premium. For one set added fee you can have all insured drivers and cars covered. It is usually a more affordable option than purchasing a standalone plan, but you must read the fine print to be sure that calls to roadside assistance do not count as a claim. If they do this could result in increased premiums.
Credit Card Companies
Many credit card companies cover roadside assistance as well, but these plans can be expensive. You may call for assistance but you will be charged accordingly, and it may not save you much money. For example Visa will charge you $80 per incident, which you may find to not be very helpful. These policies are better than not having any other coverage but are not full service protections.
Cell Phone Companies
Many cell phone providers also offer roadside assistance programs that you can add on to your cell phone policy. Verizon and AT&T both offer plans for $3 a month that can offer some assistance, but these policies are similar to those offered by credit card companies. Again, these policies are better than not having any other coverage but are not full service protections.
Standalone Roadside Assistance Programs
You can also choose to use a company that specializes in roadside assistance, such as AAA, National General Motor Club, and Better World Club. These companies have different tiers of coverage that you can select from, providing different options based on what works for you. These plans also frequently offer additional benefits such as discounts on hotels, restaurants, and fuel stations.
Vehicle Protection Plans
If you have a vehicle protection plan you may also be covered for roadside assistance. For example if you refinance your car with Auto Approve you can add on a vehicle protection plan for a low monthly fee. If your car breaks down you can get 24/7 roadside assistance, courtesy towing, and even have your rental car reimbursed, and it is all covered by your protection plan.
What should I look for in a roadside assistance plan?
There are a lot of companies that offer roadside assistance, so you want to do your research and make sure you are covered for what you need. Here are the questions you should ask.
Do I already have roadside assistance?
It may be possible that you already have some coverage when it comes to roadside assistance. If you recently bought your car, check the sales agreement and warranty information to determine what is covered. You should also check your credit card agreement and your cell phone carrier agreement as they may offer some coverage.
How much does the plan cost and what is covered?
Roadside assistance plans can vary greatly in cost. They can be as little as $5 or $10 per year and can stretch well over $100 per year. Look at the cost of different tiers and what is included in each. You need to compare the cost in conjunction to comparing the services offered.
How many claims are you allowed?
Some roadside assistance plans will allow an unlimited number of calls, while others may only cover three. You may have to pay an additional fee after you reach your threshold.
Does your coverage extend to other cars and to other drivers?
If someone is driving your car will they be allowed to use your roadside assistance plan? If you are driving someone else’s car will you be allowed to use your roadside assistance plan? It’s important to have a clear understanding of what–and who–is covered.
That’s everything you need to know about roadside assistance programs.
It’s a good idea for most people to have some sort of protection plan, whether it is a free program through your credit card company or a paid plan through AAA or another standalone company. And if you refinance your car loan through Auto Approve you can add on a vehicle protection plan to keep you safeguarded from the unexpected. So if you are ready to start saving money and get an emergency roadside assistance program, contact Auto Approve today!