What Is Roadside Assistance and Why Do You Need It?


Comprehensive auto insurance covers drivers and gives them confidence should they ever be involved in an accident, get vandalized, or incur damage due to violent weather.

However, when unanticipated events happen that are not covered under your regular insurance, what can you do? Unless you are a car mechanic, and most people aren’t, you should get a roadside assistance plan to protect you.

Most people will experience unforeseen events at some point in their lives. Some of them include:

  • Getting a flat tire
  • Running out of gas
  • Having a dead battery
  • Getting locked out of your car

Having roadside assistance will help drivers when something goes wrong with their car, so they are not stranded on the side of the road, in a parking lot, or even in their own driveway.

Why Do You Need it?

If you don’t currently have roadside assistance, you should consider getting it now before you need it and, especially before winter arrives. You don’t want to be left out in the cold when something goes wrong with your car.

Industry demand for one type of roadside assistance in particular, towing services, has grown by 2.6% in the last 5 years due to harsh weather conditions.

According to Consumer Reports, calls for roadside assistance are approximately four times higher in the winter months than in the warmer months.

Types of Coverage

There are two basic types of coverage for roadside assistance programs based on who or what is covered.

  1. Driver Coverage: If your plan covers the driver, the service will help you even if you are not driving your own car.
  2. Vehicle Coverage: When you choose a plan that covers the vehicle, it doesn’t matter who is driving when service is needed; they will be covered regardless.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Plan


Years ago, roadside assistance plans were only available from auto clubs such as AAA. Today, these types of programs are offered by various kinds of companies, including the following:

  • Warehouse clubs
  • Auto dealerships
  • Credit card companies
  • Mobile phone service providers

Not all programs are created equal. Before signing up for a specific plan, do your research.  Most importantly, find out if you are already covered.

Some dealerships include a roadside assistance plan with the purchase of new or used vehicles. For example, many offer special deals and offers as part of a college graduation program. These programs generally offer discounts to college grads to make their transition into the real world easier by helping them save some money.

If you do get coverage from the dealership where you purchase a car, make sure you know for how long you are covered. Some include two years of free coverage, so you want to be sure you purchase another plan once that one expires.

Still Need a Roadside Assistance Plan?

If you don’t already have coverage, consider the following factors before making your selection:

  • Who is covered under the plan – the driver or the vehicle? If you want to include all members of your household, find out if the program covers everyone under one basic membership or only one driver and one car.
  • Is there a limit to the number of calls you can make annually for roadside assistance?
  • How long does it typically take for assistance to arrive?
  • What is the towing distance permitted under the plan?

For the most unbiased and accurate review of any plan, look at consumer reviews to see what others using the program have to say.

Get a sense of security by making sure you are covered by a roadside assistance program in case events happen to your car that are outside of your control.


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