You’d be surprised how many people brush off roadside assistance as too expensive or unnecessary. Maybe it’s because they feel they have the tools and knowledge to jumpstart a car or change a flat tire on their own. However, roadside assistance is actually much more than just that—and is likely not nearly as expensive as you might think.
I vividly remember the first time I used roadside assistance for something other than a dead battery. My Ford Escape was stuck in a huge pile of snow. Do you know what that’s like? You park your car between a few piles of snow, thinking it won’t be that hard to get it out—but then the plow truck drives by, piling more snow around your car. Then it happens again and again and again.
By the time you get to the car, it’s impossible to get it out. To make it worse, it warmed up slightly during the day and then refroze at night, turning the piles of snow that surrounded my car into solid ice. Since I was used to driving a Subaru, I thought that the Ford could easily make it over the pile—and inevitably I became stuck on top of a giant mountain of snow. Roadside assistance came to my rescue, lifting my car out of the snow-turned-ice and onto the pavement. And that’s exactly the point.
What’s included in roadside assistance?
Most policies cover:
- Installing a flat tire
- Jumpstarting your car
- Installing a new battery
- Towing to a repair facility (distance depends on your coverage)
- Key retrieval if you lock your keys in the car
- Fuel delivery in the event that you run out
- Winching if stuck in snow, mud, water, or sand (usually on-road or within a short distance)
Additional benefits some roadside assistance plans include, but not limited to:
- Tow to an EV charging station
- Mechanical labor on scene may be covered to a certain extent
- Bike towing
- Trip interruption coverage
- Motorcycle / RV coverage
- Roadside assistance coverage in cars that aren’t your own, like rentals, friend’s vehicles, etc.
How much does it cost?
Most new cars come with some level of roadside assistance as part of the initial warranty. If you purchase an extended warranty, those typically also come with roadside assistance. But, if you have to buy it separately, one of the least expensive places to buy roadside assistance is your own car insurance company.