You have to carry car insurance, it’s the law, but roadside assistance isn’t required. Many insurance companies offer it – and even highly suggest it. Should you bite?
What is Roadside Assistance?
Roadside assistance, as the name suggests helps you when your car has issues. It could be something as simple as running out of gas (they’ll fill you up) or needing a tow. They’ll also provide flat tire service, battery jump starts, lockout service, or winching service.
Basically, they are all convenience services. Could you call a tow truck and pay for it yourself? You probably could since a tow (especially locally) isn’t expensive. Could you call a friend to bring you gas? Sure, but it’s embarrassing.
Roadside assistance provides convenience at a fee, of course. You’d pay for the services you need (minus the friend bringing gas) anyway, but you pay the premiums monthly whether you use the service or not.
So is it worth it?
How Old is your Car?
If you drive an older car and are in the process of saving for one, roadside assistance may very well be worth it. You have a higher chance of the car breaking down or needing a tow than you would if you had a new car. Many car manufacturers offer on the road assistance as a part of their warranty too. Always read the fine print to make sure you aren’t paying for something you already have.
How Far do you Drive?
If you drive frequently and far, roadside assistance can be helpful. If you’re in unfamiliar territory and don’t know anyone nearby, you could be in a bind if your car breaks down or you need fuel. If being stuck on the side of the road doesn’t appeal to you, paying for the extra service may be ideal.
What can you Do?
Think about common car issues that occur on the side of the road. Flat tires or jumping a car are something many people can do themselves – can you? If you are comfortable getting under the car and getting your hands dirty, you may not need to pay the premiums for the extra services. If not, paying those premiums may be worth every dollar to you.
Are the Providers Someone you’d Use?
If you buy roadside assistance, you can only get service at particular providers. Familiarize yourself with the providers – are they a company you would normally use? Are they a company you are familiar with?
If you use someone outside of the network, you’ll likely have to pay the difference in costs because the insurance company has contracted rates with its network providers.
Do you Have Services from Other Memberships?
Check out all policies and benefits you have in all areas of your life. You may have coverage for roadside assistance already and not realize it. Think of all memberships you pay for, even warehouse memberships or memberships through your employer.
Ways to get Roadside Assistance
Each insurance company has its own policies, but in general, you have three ways to get roadside assistance:
1. Membership plan
You pay a monthly premium to a membership-based program and typically get countrywide services. Most programs cover the basic roadside needs and cover everything except the cost of fuel for a refuel.
2. Add coverage to your insurance
Most insurance companies offer an add-on for roadside help. Some companies offer more than one option, so make sure you choose the one that suits your wallet and potential needs the most. Think about what you’d want help with the most, for example, a flat tire or jump start, and make sure it’s included in the policy.
3. Pay per use
Some companies offer Pay Per Use, such as Allstate. You pay when you need services. You don’t need to be an Allstate customer either. You call when you need help, pay the necessary fees (when you need the services) and they help you.
Roadside assistance is another cost, but if you can’t handle common roadside issues yourself, it may be worth the peace of mind it provides. Compare costs, look at the services included, and make sure it makes sense to pay for it every month or if you’d do better with a pay per use plan that only requires payment if you need the services. Either way, you’ll pay for the services because something is wrong with your car, it just depends on how much convenience you want for those issues.