What is roadside assistance?

Roadside assistance is an optional add-on to your car insurance that pays for the cost of emergency services if you’re stranded while driving.

Andrew Hurst

By

Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Updated|5 min read

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Roadside assistance is a type of coverage you can choose to add to your auto insurance policy. It covers the cost of help if you’re stranded on the side of the road and need towing, gas fill ups, lockout services, or a jumpstart.

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While you can add roadside assistance to your policy through your car insurance company, you can also get roadside assistance through a third-party group, like AAA, your credit card, and your car manufacturer.

Key takeaways

  • Roadside assistance covers the cost of emergency services like towing, jumpstarts, lockout services, and more.

  • You can usually get roadside assistance through your insurance company for under $25 per year, per vehicle.

  • Roadside assistance is also available through third-party organizations like AAA for a yearly fee, but your credit card might also offer coverage for free.

What is roadside assistance?

Roadside assistance is a type of insurance add-on that covers the cost of help if your car is broken down and you’re stranded. It can cover things like:

  • Battery jumpstarts

  • Flat tires

  • Fuel deliveries

  • Lockouts

  • Towing

  • Stuck vehicles (called winching)

If your car breaks down and you can’t drive it, you can typically use your roadside assistance coverage by calling, texting, or contacting your insurance company through your mobile app. Roadside assistance service is usually available for use 24/7.

Most of the time you’ll pay a little more to add roadside assistance to your policy , but some auto insurance companies automatically include roadside assistance as a part of a full-coverage policy

Third-party membership clubs — like AAA — and some credit cards also offer roadside assistance that’s similar to what’s offered by car insurance companies.

What does roadside assistance cover?

Roadside assistance covers the cost of the labor for a handful of common emergency services. Roadside assistance does not cover the cost of new gas, tires, or batteries. While you won’t have to install your tire or replace your battery yourself (or pay for the service), you’ll have to pay for the new materials.

Roadside assistance also covers the cost of services that you already paid for. For example, you can get reimbursed after you pay for a tow if you make a claim (as long as you had roadside assistance coverage when you paid for the tow). 

If you have roadside assistance coverage but you need to pay out of pocket for any services, be sure to save your receipts so you can make a claim and get reimbursed later.

Some companies offer multiple tiers of roadside assistance, with more coverage at an extra cost. For example, some companies offer roadside assistance with trip interruption coverage. This typically covers the cost of your transportation, lodging, and meals if you were stranded far from your home.

Roadside assistance vs. towing and labor coverage

The terms “roadside assistance” and “towing and labor coverage” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re not always the same. Towing and labor coverage is sometimes offered as a basic type of roadside assistance, and will cover you if you need a tow (as the name suggests), but not for other types of services.

How much does roadside assistance cost?

It's cheaper to get roadside assistance than other types of auto insurance coverage. Drivers can usually add roadside assistance to an existing policy for $15 to $25 per vehicle, depending on the company. If costs are too high with your company, compare insurance rates to find the most affordable option.

Roadside assistance may cost more if you get covered through an auto club instead of through your insurance — we found that it can cost $52 to $110 per year to get roadside assistance with AAA. But even though it costs more, roadside assistance from an auto club comes with other benefits not offered by your insurance company.

How to get roadside assistance

It’s usually easy to get roadside assistance. Most car insurance companies — and all of the biggest insurance providers in the country — offer roadside assistance as an add-on to a standard policy.

You can choose roadside assistance when you’re buying car insurance and picking the rest of your coverage, or you can add it to an existing car insurance policy. Your company will update your rate, so there’s no need to wait till the end of your policy to get roadside assistance coverage.

You can make sure that you get the best roadside assistance for the price by checking the services that are included in your insurance company’s coverage. Most of the services covered by the top insurance companies are similar, but smaller companies may have less complete coverage.

Companies

What's included

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Allstate

Flat tire, fuel delivery, jumpstart, lockouts, towing

American Family

Flat tire, fuel delivery, jumpstart, lockouts, mechanical labor, towing

Farmers

Flat tire, jumpstart, lockouts, stuck vehicle, towing

GEICO

Flat tire, fuel delivery, jumpstart, lockouts, stuck vehicle, towing

Liberty Mutual

Flat tire, fuel delivery, jumpstart, lockouts, towing

Nationwide

Flat tire, fuel delivery, jumpstart, lockouts, stuck vehicle, towing

Progressive

Battery change, flat tire, fuel delivery, jumpstart lockouts, on-scene labor, stuck vehicle, towing

State Farm

Flat tire, fuel delivery, jumpstart, lockouts, towing

Travelers

Flat tire, fuel delivery, jumpstart, lockouts, stuck vehicle, towing

USAA

Flat tire, fuel delivery, jumpstart, lockouts, stuck vehicle, towing

Largest car insurance companies, sorted alphabetically.

Allstate is the only one of the biggest car insurance companies that offers a standalone roadside assistance membership to drivers who don’t have auto insurance with Allstate. 

This roadside assistance option costs $89 per year and comes with an additional $1,500 of trip interruption coverage and repairs for damaged tires.

Other ways to get roadside assistance

There are a few other ways to get roadside assistance coverage without going through your car insurance company. If you already have roadside assistance with an auto club like AAA, your credit card, or through your new vehicle, you don’t need to get coverage from your insurance carrier.

Roadside assistance through an auto club membership

Roadside assistance is sometimes a perk of being a member of an auto club like AAA. When you sign up for a membership to an auto club, you typically receive roadside assistance along with some retailer discounts.

The most well-known auto club is AAA (which also offers car insurance), but it’s not the only auto club group that offers roadside assistance. Better World Club, a green-conscious auto club alternative, offers roadside assistance to both car and bicycle riders.

Roadside assistance through your credit card

Some credit cards include roadside assistance coverage as a perk for signing up. You can usually use your credit card’s roadside assistance by calling a number on the back of your card.

Roadside assistance from credit card companies usually includes under $100 of coverage for a fixed number of towing, fuel deliveries, jumpstarts, and lockouts per year. Since roadside assistance can be available with many popular cards, it’s an easy way to get covered.

Roadside assistance through your new car

Your car’s manufacturer may offer roadside assistance for free depending on the age of your vehicle and its mileage. Many popular automakers — including Ford, GM, Honda, and others — offer complimentary roadside assistance for new vehicles.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is roadside assistance a type of car insurance?

Roadside assistance is an extra form of coverage that you can add to your car insurance, but you don’t necessarily have to get roadside assistance from your car insurance company. Some auto clubs, credit cards, and car makers also offer roadside assistance coverage.

Is roadside assistance useful?

Yes, roadside assistance is a cheap way to protect yourself from having to pay for roadside services yourself. Drivers who can afford to get roadside assistance should consider adding it to their car insurance policies if they don’t already get the coverage some other way.

Will my insurance go up if I use roadside assistance?

Filing a claim usually raises your rates, but using your roadside assistance typically doesn’t cause your rates to rise. That said, your rates will still be slightly higher than average if you add roadside assistance to a regular policy.

Does Verizon offer roadside assistance?

Sort of. Verizon works with Allstate to provide optional roadside assistance to its customers. If you get cell service through Verizon, you can add roadside assistance to your phone plan for $4.99 a month. You’ll then be able to text from your enrolled phone if you’re stuck.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

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