Last updated: December 2022
If you have never been stranded with your car on the side of the road, you may be wondering if roadside assistance is worth it. But when you consider that about 69 million vehicle breakdowns (that’s roughly 1 of every 3 drivers!) occur every year, according to Agero, roadside coverage starts to make a lot more sense. Here’s the rundown on some things to consider that can help you answer a question perplexing many drivers: Do you need roadside assistance?
What is Roadside Assistance, and What Does Roadside Assistance Cover?
Roadside assistance is a group of special services you can count on to “rescue you” if your vehicle has mechanical problems or you end up in another covered automotive emergency. Many plans, like the one Direct Auto offers, provide 24/7 coverage, meaning you can get help anywhere at any time.
The details of roadside coverage vary from company to company, so be sure to read what services are included before you buy. However, here are five common roadside services that are included in the plan Direct Auto offers.
1. 24-Hour Emergency Towing
Towing service costs vary depending on the type of vehicle you have, distance to the nearest garage, your exact location, time of day, and whether certain services are needed. If you don't have roadside assistance, an emergency tow is not cheap.
2. A Flat Tire Change
What would you do if you got a flat tire and had no spare? Auto insurance doesn't cover flat tires, but if you have roadside assistance on your policy, you're in luck. A roadside assistance tech can come to your rescue to replace your tire – you'd just need to pay the cost of the replacement tire. If you have a spare but no clue how to change a tire, roadside assistance can help with that too! Remember: spare tires are for temporary use. Roadside assistance will help you drive safely in the meantime, but you should get your spare replaced as soon as possible.
3. A Car Lockout
We've all been there, so if you're wondering, “Does roadside assistance cover keys locked in my car,” the answer is yes! That's good news because the average cost of an auto lockout service is not cheap. If you have a remote entry key fob or a high-security car key, you might have to pay even more without roadside.
4. A Battery Jump-Start
Oops! You forgot to turn off your car's interior light last night, and now your battery is completely drained. Luckily, roadside assistance will come to your house! A roadside assistance pro can give you a battery jump-start or even install a new battery for you – you'd just need to pay for the cost of a new battery.
5. Fuel Delivery
What would you do if you ran out of gas and the nearest station was miles away? You'd probably be on your own unless you had a roadside assistance plan. Roadside assistance can help with emergency fuel delivery, plus fluid delivery if you run out of coolant or brake fluid. Usually, a roadside assistance pro will deliver enough fuel to get you to the nearest gas station where you can fill up and get on your way.
Ways to Get Roadside Assistance
When choosing a roadside assistance plan, you have several options, including:
- Through your insurance company: One of the easiest ways to get roadside coverage is by adding it to your auto policy.
- Through an auto club membership: Membership options, like through a motor club, are an option, but they’re typically more expensive than insurance-provided roadside assistance.
- On a pay-per-use basis: Some companies, like Allstate, offer pay-per-use models for people to use on an as-needed basis with no existing policy required.
- Cell phone provider, car manufacturer, or credit card company: Some cell phone companies, auto manufacturers, and credit card companies provide roadside services to their customers. However, you might be paying per use and there could be limits (like miles driven). Read the terms so you’re not counting on them when you shouldn’t be.
How Much Does Roadside Assistance Cost?
Costs for roadside assistance vary across companies and membership levels. A roadside assistance plan can cost anywhere from a few dollars each month (like the plan available through Direct Auto) while others could cost you several hundred dollars a year.
Adding roadside assistance to your car insurance policy is usually cheaper than purchasing an auto club membership plan, and while there are credit card companies that offer roadside assistance benefits, they usually involve a flat fee for each service. Compare rates and services across all your options, and if you’re a Direct Auto customer or interested in becoming one, contact Direct Auto to learn more about getting a roadside plan.
Is it possible to get free roadside assistance?
As mentioned above, while some automakers, credit card companies, or wireless providers may tout free roadside assistance, it normally comes with some big caveats. For example, they may have towing restrictions or offer a more limited list of services. Fortunately, cheap roadside service is a possibility when free roadside service is not an option for you. The best way to get roadside assistance that is actually free is to learn how to do basic service on your own or ask your handy-with-tools uncle or your always-willing-to-help sister. But who really wants to do that, or what if the problem is a little more involved than you can handle on your own?
Is roadside assistance worth it?
Roadside assistance can offer peace of mind, convenience, and safety to help you keep driving wherever you go. When you consider that many common services you might need on the side of the road or in a parking lot (like lost key/lockout service and towing) can easily set you back $100 or more, a few dollars each month for roadside coverage doesn’t seem so bad.
In fact, the roadside coverage Direct Auto offers typically pays for itself after just one use. For example, as a member, you’re covered for 24-hour emergency towing services meaning you would not have to pay out of pocket for towing services in the event of a roadside emergency because that service is covered up front. Paying out of pocket for services is almost always going to be more expensive than adding roadside to your insurance policy or purchasing a membership.
Is roadside assistance required?
Roadside assistance is not a state minimum car insurance requirement like liability coverage (required in almost every state). But if you want to ensure you’ll have help available when you encounter a problem on the road, roadside assistance could be a necessity for you. You might prefer the peace of mind a roadside assistance plan provides over the cost of coverage.
Do I need roadside assistance?
If you are 100% sure that nothing will ever go wrong on the road, then probably not. But then again, how many of us can predict the future? Paying for roadside coverage is ultimately a personal decision, but here are some things to consider if you’re wondering whether or not you should get a roadside plan.
- How much you drive: The more often you drive, the more likely you are to eventually have a breakdown or blown tire.
- If you travel a lot: Taking road trips can be full of anxieties, like getting lost or hitting heavy traffic. You might not want to add the fear of breaking down and being stranded on the side of the road to the list. Roadside assistance can show up for you whenever and wherever you need it, even if you’re far from home.
- How reliable your vehicle is: While it won’t help you avoid a flat tire, a dependable vehicle that doesn’t break down might make you more inclined to forego roadside coverage. If you have an older vehicle that is more prone to breakdowns and doesn’t warn you when your keys are in the car, roadside might be a good investment.
- How handy you are: If you know how to jump-start your vehicle or change your own tire, you can avoid some scenarios that would leave others stranded or waiting on roadside assistance. However, some mechanical issues might be too much for you to fix on the side of a highway, so roadside coverage could still be a good investment.