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The Breakdown Blues: How to Choose a Roadside Assistance Program

Most people skimp on car insurance because they believe that the lower the price, the better. The reality of it is that this is one area you don’t want to be cheap in. Road-side assistance can mean the difference between being stranded on the side of the road and having a reliable way to get out of harm’s way when you really need to. Here’s how to choose a good roadside assistance program.

Check With Your Insurer

Most insurance companies offer some type of roadside assistance program. Towing companies, like SC Pro Tow - towing service in Fort Worth, typically work with insurers to help people get their car off the road and into a nearby garage. These services are an add-on (rider) to base policies, where they typically  don’t cost a lot of money.

Of course, you don’t have to go with your insurer. Organizations, like AAA, offer stand-alone service options that are sometimes superior to what insurers offer but at a higher price-point.

How Many Miles Do They Tow?

Almost all roadside assistance programs place strict towing limits on the coverage. For example, your insurance company might offer towing, but may only cover the first 10 or 20 miles. Beyond that, you have to pay whatever the towing company charges. Check this before you sign up, as it can impact the service you get.

If you live out in the country (or you break down out in the country) for example, a small towing limit might not be enough to get you to any nearby shop.

Check Service Call Limits

Many types of assistance programs limit the number of service calls you can make under the plan. In other words, you’re not allowed to have your vehicle towed more than a specific number of times. If you exceed the allowable service calls in a given year, you’ll have to pay for assistance out of pocket.

Check Service Availability And Shop Rules

Some insurance companies, and even third-party providers, limit what shops they will tow you to. Insurers, especially, want you to use their own preferred shops, and may offer free towing to them. However, if you want to tow the vehicle to your own shop, and it’s outside of the towing (mileage) limits under your service plan, you’ll have to pay to have the vehicle towed.

Check Vehicle Eligibility

All plans cover regular passenger vehicles. But, not all plans cover commercial vehicles, so check this before you sign up for coverage. Some pickup trucks are also considered commercial vehicles, so don’t overlook this or you might be buying a useless assistance program.

Check Multi-Driver Coverage

Unbelievably, some plans do not cover all drivers in the household, so make sure that yours does. This is often overlooked because it’s assumed that the policy is on the vehicle. Some companies will automatically cover other drivers, but only if they’re living in the home with you. Others will cover all drivers, and still other plans only cover you.

John Stolle is a retired automotive mechanic and father of five. When he's not tinkering on one of his antique cars, he's writing about them. Look for his informative articles on many automotive blogs and websites on the web. 
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