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UPDATED: Nov 27, 2011
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Virtually every car insurance company in the United States offers roadside assistance insurance. Some offer it as a rider to your policy, while others include it when you buy comprehensive and collision coverage. It is very inexpensive if you do have to pay for it, costing literally a few pennies a day to maintain.
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Sometimes roadside assistance isn’t listed on an insurance company’s website as an option when they actually have it. Often it isn’t until you actually fill out an application for a car insurance quote that you discover that they do provide this valuable service.
Does roadside assistance cover my car when it breaks down?
What roadside assistance does is provide you with a tow to the nearest approved mechanic when you have a breakdown. Some companies will use a designated tow truck company that will bill the insurance company directly, while others will reimburse you for a tow that you pay for out-of-pocket.
In addition, some roadside assistance insurance packages include helping you to do minor things like change a tire if that is the cause of your breakdown.
However, in many cases you need to purchases a separate type of insurance for help with this kind of problem, which is sometimes called breakdown insurance.
It is important to note that, no matter what kind of insurance rider that you have, this does not cover making major repairs to your vehicle, buying parts for your vehicle, and so on. These are coverages that help you to get quick assistance should you break down on the side of the road.
Should I buy roadside assistance insurance?
While roadside assistance insurance can be an excellent addition to your insurance policy, you do need to decide whether you actually need it based on other coverages that you may have.
For example, many credit card companies offer roadside assistance as a benefit for choosing their card. Of course, before you decide that this is an adequate option, you need to know the terms of your credit card agreement.
Many have a very low cap on how much they will pay for a tow, such as $30 to $50. If, however, you are going further than a couple of miles, a tow can cost a lot more money, even over $100.
In addition, some have a limited amount of tows that they offer per vehicle per year, such as two to four tows. For most people this is great, but for some this won’t be enough.
Another thing is that, if you have AAA, then you won’t need to purchase roadside assistance. Now, if you are using AAA only for their roadside assistance program then you need to a comparison of services with your insurance company. Typically, an insurance rider is far less expensive than AAA’s membership costs.
Will my roadside assistance insurance cover me if I am driving another car?
As a matter of fact, many insurance companies offer all of the services you have with them when you drive another car. What’s more, many extend that coverage to any vehicle that you are in, whether you are driving or not.
This means that if you are with a friend on the way to a concert and the car breaks down, you can call your insurance company and request a tow.
It is important that you understand that this is considered to be a claim on your insurance, which means you may see a slight increase in rates.
How do I choose the company with the best roadside assistance insurance?
You really don’t want to make your decision on an insurance company based on their roadside assistance program unless everything else is completely the same between the two companies. Comparisons should range from price to financial security, which you can research online from companies like A.M. Best. This, of course, is very unlikely.
Instead, you should consider the reputation of the company, the financial stability, how long they have been in business, what friends and family say about their insurance company and how you are treated if you call and ask questions regarding their insurance.
You should also consider the discounts that the company offers. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ “Auto Tips“, this is an excellent way to save money on your car insurance as well.
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