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rental car damage and liability insurance

Roadside assistance provides coverage for services like towing and repairs when your car breaks down. It is an add-on auto insurance policy that supplements your regular collision and comprehensive coverage.

Roadside assistance can be purchased from:

  • Your existing auto insurer
  • Third party providers like auto clubs
  • Membership organizations
  • Credit card companies

This supplemental coverage gives you access to emergency roadside help for common issues like flat tiresdead batteries, and lockouts.

Roadside assistance if the best coverage option with your comprehensive coverage

Having roadside assistance brings peace of mind in case your car ever breaks down far from home.

What traditional auto insurance policies cover

Regular auto insurance comes in three main types:

  • Liability coverage
    • Covers damage you cause to others
    • Required in most states
  • Collision coverage
    • Covers damage to your car from an accident
    • You must be at fault
  • Comprehensive coverage
    • Covers non-accident damage like theft, vandalism, storms
    • Not legally required

Traditional policies do NOT cover:

  • Breakdowns
  • Flat tires
  • Dead batteries
  • Other common roadside issues

So if your car won't start or has a flat, you can't file a regular insurance claim.

Roadside assistance fills this gap by providing:

  • Towing
  • Battery jump starts
  • Tire changes
  • Fuel delivery

Regular insurance only covers repairs from accidents and other external damage events. Mechanical issues like a faulty alternator are not covered risks.

This is why adding roadside assistance as a supplement is recommended if you want protection from all driving mishaps.

Where to purchase roadside assistance coverage

You have several options for obtaining roadside assistance coverage:

Current auto insurance provider

The easiest option is to purchase a supplemental policy from your existing auto insurance company.


  • Convenience of keeping all policies together
  • Potential bundling discounts
  • Dealing with one provider

Most major insurers like Allstate, Geico, Progressive offer this add-on coverage.

Exact services covered vary by provider but generally include:

  • Towing up to a certain number of miles
  • Battery jumps
  • Flat tire changes
  • Fuel delivery
  • Lockout assistance

Cost also varies but is relatively low - usually less than $100 per year.

Third party providers

Besides your auto insurer, you can buy a roadside assistance policy from:

  • Auto clubs like AAA
  • Automobile associations
  • Membership organizations
  • Discount clubs like Sam's Club
  • Credit card companies

Benefits of third party providers:

  • Services not tied to your car insurer
  • Potentially lower cost
  • Flexible membership terms


  • Admin hassle of separate provider
  • Membership limitations or requirements

Manufacturer warranty coverage

New car warranties often include some basic roadside assistance. But this coverage is usually limited compared to an add-on policy.

Self-purchase on per-service basis

You can skip insurance and pay for help à la carte when you need it. But this offers less financial protection if you break down frequently.

An add-on policy brings more peace of mind.

Coverage for accident breakdowns

What happens if your car breaks down because of an accident? This situation brings your traditional auto insurance into play.

For example:

  • You're in a crash that disables your vehicle
  • Someone vandalizes your car, leaving it inoperable
  • A storm drops a tree branch that cracks your windshield

In these cases, your regular car insurance policy should cover the breakdown and repairs. This includes:

  • Towing fees to transport the car to a repair shop
  • Costs for parts and labor

However, your normal policy likely has deductibles you must pay first before coverage kicks in.

With a supplemental roadside assistance policy, you have immediate access to help without deductibles. The provider pays for services like:

  • Tow truck dispatch
  • Accessing a rental car
  • Transporting passengers

Key advantages of using roadside assistance after an accident:

  • No deductible to pay
  • Faster response time
  • Additional services covered

Having both types of coverage provides the most comprehensive protection when accidents cause disablements.

Some tips if you breakdown after an accident:

  • Assess if you can safely drive. Don't attempt to if there's extensive damage.
  • Call emergency services if any injuries occurred.
  • Contact your insurance provider to start a claim.
  • Use your roadside assistance policy for towing needs and accessing a rental car if required.

With both regular and supplemental policies, you can get back on the road quickly after an unfortunate mishap.

What comprehensive auto insurance covers

Comprehensive coverage is an optional type of car insurance that covers damage from non-collision incidents. This includes:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Storms (hail, hurricanes, etc.)
  • Falling objects (trees, construction debris)
  • Collisions with animals
  • Fire, explosions
  • Civil disturbances

Comprehensive does NOT cover:

  • Accidents with other vehicles
  • Mechanical failures or breakdowns
  • Wear and tear

So comprehensive won't pay for repairs if your car won't start due to a dead battery or faulty alternator.

Key benefits of adding comprehensive:

  • Protects your car from virtually all non-crash risks
  • Can prevent paying for repairs out of pocket
  • May be required by lenders if you finance or lease

Comprehensive and collision are the two main types of coverage for your own vehicle. Liability only covers damage you cause others.

Average cost of comprehensive coverage is $134 per year according to 2021 stats. Premiums vary based on:

  • Car's age, make, and model
  • Driving and claims history
  • Location
  • Deductible amount

Comprehensive gives you robust protection from all sorts of unpredictable damage as you drive. While not legally mandatory, it provides valuable peace of mind.

Tip: Consider dropping comprehensive on older cars worth less than $1,000. The premiums may exceed any payout you'd receive.

What collision insurance covers

Collision insurance is another optional coverage that pays for repairs when your car is damaged in an accident.

Collision applies when:

  • You collide with another vehicle
  • You crash into an object, like a telephone pole or guardrail
  • Your car flips over or rolls over

Key areas covered by collision insurance:

  • Damage to your vehicle up to its actual cash value
  • Towing fees to transport your car for repairs
  • Rental car reimbursement if your vehicle is undrivable

Collision does NOT cover:

  • Injuries to you or your passengers
  • Damage you cause to other vehicles - that's under liability insurance
  • Theft, vandalism, weather damage - that's under comprehensive

Adding collision ensures you can fix your car after an at-fault accident. Without it, you pay expensive repair bills yourself.

Cost for collision varies by factors like:

  • Vehicle age, make and model
  • Your driving history and record
  • Chosen deductible

Collision combines with comprehensive to fully protect your vehicle from physical damage when driving. It gives you critical peace of mind.

Services covered by roadside assistance

Roadside assistance policies cover a wide range of services to get your car back on the road. Common inclusions are:


If your car is undrivable due to a breakdown, towing services will transport it to a repair shop. Coverage includes:

  • Dispatching a tow truck to your location
  • Paying towing fees up to a set limit, often 50-100 miles

With towing, you avoid massive out-of-pocket costs if stranded far from home.

Battery jump starts

Dead batteries are a leading reason for breakdowns. Roadside assistance covers:

  • Sending a technician to jump start your battery
  • Transporting your car to charge the battery if needed

Jumper cables are another option. But on-site assistance brings convenience.

Flat tire changes

Many drivers aren't able to change a flat safely themselves. So policies provide:

  • Access to a technician who can change the tire
  • Replacement with your spare or a new tire

This gives you confidence help is available for a common road mishap.

Fuel delivery

Running out of gas is inconvenient and dangerous. Coverage includes:

  • Delivering a small amount of fuel to your location
  • Transporting you & your car to a gas station

With fuel delivery, you avoid being stranded without power.

Lockout services

Locking your keys in the car is a headache. Locksmith services offered include:

  • Unlocking your car door with specialized tools
  • Making replacement keys as needed

Lockout assistance provides immediate relief for this annoying scenario.

Roadside assistance fills coverage gaps for some of the most common car problems. The convenience and financial protection are invaluable for drivers.

Getting the best roadside assistance coverage

How can you ensure you get quality roadside assistance coverage at a good value? Here are some tips:

Compare quotes

  • Get quotes from at least 3 providers before choosing one
  • Consider your auto insurer, auto clubs, and discount clubs
  • Compare based on services offered, limits, deductibles, and pricing
  • Look for a provider rated highly for customer satisfaction

Shopping around gets you the best deal. Don't go with the first quote you see.

B. Look for extras

  • See if policies offer rental reimbursement, travel expense coverage, or legal assistance
  • These extras provide protection beyond just car breakdowns
  • Evaluate whether the extras are worth paying more in premiums

Consider membership terms

  • Auto club memberships can expire so you lose access to service
  • Other providers offer continuous coverage without needing to renew
  • Look at annual costs if you have to keep renewing a membership

Check policy limits

  • Confirm coverage details like towing mileage limits
  • See if certain areas are excluded, like off-road driving
  • Pick limits that fit your regular driving territory

Evaluate deductibles

  • Some providers make you pay a deductible before using services
  • Others provide access with no out-of-pocket costs per incident
  • Know whether you'll have upfront fees when requiring assistance

Read reviews

  • Research companies on objective third party sites
  • Check reviews from current customers describing service quality
  • Avoid providers with frequent complaints around wait times, network gaps, or denied claims

Compare with self-pay option

  • Do the math on just paying for services without insurance as needed
  • For infrequent drivers, self-pay might provide more value
  • Frequent travelers will benefit more from coverage

Getting quotes from multiple providers ensures you find the optimal roadside assistance policy for your situation and budget.

Alternatives for coverage

Don't want a dedicated roadside assistance policy? Here are some alternatives to get coverage:


Many organizations provide roadside help for members, including:

  • Auto clubs like AAA
  • Motorist associations like Better World Club
  • Costco & Sam's Club
  • Credit unions
  • Alumni organizations

Benefits include discounted rates and potentially more services.

Drawbacks can be membership fees and less flexibility.

Credit cards

Numerous major credit cards include complimentary roadside assistance when you're a cardholder. For example:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Capital One Venture One
  • Wells Fargo Propel Card
  • U.S. Bank Visa Platinum

The coverage is usually straightforward towing and lockout service.

Pros are added peace of mind for just having the card. Cons are coverage limits.

Vehicle manufacturer

New car warranties provide some basic assistance like towing, lockouts, and battery jumps.

Downside is coverage expires when the regular warranty period ends.

Pay out of pocket

You can skip insurance and pay for any roadside help as one-off services.

The risk is larger bills if you breakdown frequently. Coverage brings more financial certainty.

Overall, membership and credit card perks can supplement or replace a dedicated policy in some cases. Evaluate your budget and driving needs.


In summary, roadside assistance provides invaluable coverage and services in the event your vehicle breaks down. It fills gaps left by standard auto insurance policies.

Top providers include auto insurers, auto clubs, credit cards, and membership organizations. Each offers different coverage terms, limits, and cost.

Reviewing multiple quotes allows you to find the best roadside assistance option for your budget and needs. Key is choosing a provider rated highly for customer satisfaction and response time.

Consider adding this supplemental coverage for peace of mind in case you face common issues like flat tires, dead batteries, or accident breakdowns far from home. Having emergency assistance available brings great value to all drivers.

Other readers were also interested in the following posts:

Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Hitting a Deer?

Does My Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Me to Drive Another Car? 

Comprehensive Insurance vs Collision: Which One is Right for You?

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