Towing and labor cost coverage

Towing and labor cost coverage, also called roadside assistance, is exactly what it sounds like — insurance coverage that pays for towing and labor costs if you need assistance.

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Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in auto insurance. She worked for 21st Century Insurance, BlueCross BlueShield Massachusetts, and HealthPass New York. She also spent two years working as a content expert for dozens of auto insurance websites through 360Quote LLC.

Published October 6, 2021|3 min read

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Towing and labor cost coverage, also called roadside assistance, isn’t a requirement, it’s an optional add-on to your car insurance policy. Does that mean you don’t need the coverage?

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Drivers who don’t add towing and labor won’t notice any difference at all—until their car breaks down. Whether you wake up to a dead battery in the morning or blow a tire on the way home from work, most people will eventually be in a situation where they need towing and labor.

Key Takeaways

  • Coverage for towing and labor will vary from company-to-company, but it may include towing, tire changes, jump starts, winching, locksmith services, and gas or oil delivery

  • Towing and labor coverage often comes with a maximum number of uses in a given year

  • If you don’t have towing and labor, it is your responsibility to find someone who can help you when you need help

  • Roadside assistance and towing and labor are two different terms for the same coverage

What does towing and labor cost coverage include?

Towing and labor coverage is exactly what it sounds like — insurance coverage that pays for towing and labor costs if you need assistance. It’s also called roadside assistance.

Coverage for towing and labor will vary from company-to-company, but it typically pays for:

  • Towing

  • Tire changes

  • Jump starts

  • Winching

  • Locksmith services 

  • Gas or oil delivery

The “labor” part of your towing and labor coverage refers to the service technician and their time, as well as the work they do to get you back on the road.

What’s excluded from towing and labor?

Towing and labor typically doesn’t cover the cost of materials. For example, if you run out of gas your towing and labor coverage will pay to have someone bring you a few gallons of gasoline, but the cost of the fuel itself is something you will be expected to pay for out-of-pocket. It will pay for someone to come and change your tire out for a spare, but it won’t cover the cost of a brand new tire. 

Towing and labor insurance often comes with a maximum number of uses in a given year. Review your policy carefully so you know exactly how many times you can use your coverage before you’ve maxed out your benefit.

Also, many towing and labor policies follow the car, not the driver. This means that you likely won’t be covered if you are driving a friend’s car and need assistance, unless they also have towing and labor coverage. This isn’t universal, however, and many towing and labor policies (especially those offered by a separate company, such as AAA) allow you to use the coverage no matter which car you are driving. 

How do I use my towing and labor coverage?

When you sign up for towing and labor you will be given the contact information for the emergency roadside assistance company contracted with your insurance company. When you need assistance you call the number you were given and they will send someone out to help you and bill your insurance company for the cost.

What happens if I don’t have towing and labor coverage?

If you don’t have towing and labor, it is your responsibility to find someone who can help you when you need help. That could mean calling multiple towing companies to find someone who services your area, asking your spouse to take time off of work to bring you a few gallons of gas, or changing a tire yourself on the side of a busy highway.

Most towing and labor policies charge an additional fee if you sign up at the moment you need service. Signing up when you don’t need service can save you $75 or more in emergency fees, so signing up when you renew your policy can save you money, even if you only need assistance once a year.

What’s the difference between roadside assistance and towing and labor?

Roadside assistance and towing and labor are two different terms for the same coverage. There is usually no difference between the two.

However, knowing the terms are interchangeable can be helpful. For example, if your insurance company says they don’t offer towing and labor coverage, you can ask if they offer roadside assistance instead. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a tow cost?

Drivers without towing and labor coverage can expect to pay somewhere between $75 and $125, on average, to have their car towed. Depending on when and where you need assistance, the cost could end up being much higher than average.

Can I use my insurance to tow someone else’s car?

Maybe, depending on the specifics in your coverage. Many policies are limited to your individual car, but there are some that will allow you to access services no matter which car you are driving.

Does the type of car affect the towing and labor cost?

No, the type of car you drive typically doesn’t impact the cost of towing and labor coverage. There may be instances where a company won’t provide coverage for a specific type of vehicle or require you to pay a higher rate for services, however, so check with your insurance agent to find out about specific coverage issues.

Is towing and labor coverage mandatory?

No, towing and labor is not a required coverage. Unlike liability coverage, it’s not required by law in any state.