Unless you live in a state where it’s more convenient to hail a cab or take public transport, you would need a car to get around. You’ll use it to get yourself to and from work; parents use it to pick the kids up from school; college friends ride it for road trips; and it has become the most convenient mode of transport.
As a car owner, it is entirely up to you to handle the expenses associated with maintaining a car. When you first bought it straight out of the showroom, you would have spent a significant amount on down payment. Then, there’s the car loan, monthly insurance, gas money and maintenance fees that you have to pay for as well. If you have a clunker of a car which was bought second hand, it is very likely that you will also spend a lot on having it repaired in the shop.
The problem is that you cannot discount the possibility of the car breaking down in the middle of the road. If you bought a car brand new, years of use will take its toll and something might happen to the engine which will cause it to stop mid-drive.
If you’re driving a second-hand car, there’s an even bigger possibility of the engine malfunctioning and giving you problems while you’re on the road. In case your car does break down, you would have to call a towing company to bring the vehicle to the nearest garage, and the costs associated with this are quite enormous.
Fortunately, you do have the option to get roadside assistance. As the name implies, it is a service which provides roadside assistance for drivers who get stuck with a malfunctioning car while on the road. Read on to learn more about the importance of this type of a plan, and how you can save money when getting one.
Why Should I Get Roadside Assistance?
Before dishing out tips on how you can save money on roadside assistance, let us delve a bit deeper into its importance first. If you have a comprehensive car insurance plan, it might already include roadside assistance. Depending on the roadside assistance plan that you have, you can use it when:
- Your car breaks down in the middle of the road due to engine problems.
- Your car’s tire blows up due to a sharp object on the road.
- You accidentally lock yourself out of the car.
- Your car’s batteries die down, or when it is out of fuel.
Once you call the hotline of the roadside assistance company, someone will drive to your location and provide the assistance that you need. If you need help changing the car tires, if you need gasoline, if the battery needs to get charged or if you need a locksmith to unlock your car without ruining its opening mechanism, the roadside assistance company will come to your rescue.
What’s good about getting their assistance if you already have a plan is that there is no need for you to pay for the roadside assistance service itself. Only a few extra charges based on the problem with your car is what will be billed to you as a customer. Other than that, the service of coming to get you out of your driving dilemma is free.
If you do not have roadside assistance and you call for one, astronomical fees are usually charged. Let’s say that you are going for a long drive and your car broke down in between state boundaries. For most car towing services or roadside assistance companies, extra charges will be billed if your car needs to be towed out of state – even if it’s just a few miles away. Some will even downright refuse to get your car out of state.
To prevent paying such astronomical fees, it really is a good idea to look into getting roadside assistance, especially if it is a plan that you don’t already have.
How to Save Money on Roadside Assistance
If roadside assistance is a service that you really need, there are ways on how you can save money while getting such a plan. Take a look at the following list:
Learn About Your Options for Roadside Assistance
Surprisingly enough, it is not just car insurance providers who offer roadside assistance service – although they are the ones that you should first ask about it. If you have just the basic car insurance plan, ask your provider how much it would cost to add roadside assistance to your coverage. If you have been with the same insurance provider for a good number of years, you might even ask for it as a benefit for staying loyal to them.
If not, feel free to switch to a new car insurance provider who will be more than happy to accommodate your request – if not for free, then at a minimal price. Those who have a comprehensive and collision auto insurance plan can usually add roadside assistance and towing services for just an additional of $2 to $5 per month, depending on the rates that they are already paying for.
Here are the other companies which offer roadside assistance services:
- Auto Manufacturers
Which brand of car do you own? Check your owner’s manual if there is an option for you to get roadside assistance from the company who made your car.
Most auto manufacturers offer a wide array of roadside assistance for buyers of their cars. If you lock yourself out of the car, if you run out of gas or if you need a tow, they will usually offer free towing services to the nearest dealership. Check out Edmunds.com for a list of roadside assistance coverage offered by different car manufacturers.
- Wireless Service Providers
AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint are wireless service providers who also offer roadside assistance for subscribers. The coverage usually includes being locked out of your car, tire changes, gas service and towing services. The cost is anywhere between $2 and $5 for current subscribers.
- Credit Card Companies
As part of their overall service or rewards programs, credit card companies do offer roadside assistance. The coverage of such plans is usually limited, so ask your credit card company about the Terms and Conditions first.
- Standalone Roadside Assistance Companies
Finally, there are specialized auto clubs or standalone companies which offer roadside assistance. The most popular is AAA or the American Automobile Association. They have three membership tiers, the most basic of which offers roadside assistance and towing for short distances. The slightly more expensive plans include towing of up to 100 miles, as well as lock-out assistance.
The premium plan offered by AAA includes 24-hour concierge services, 200 miles of free towing, other perks and privileges. You can also check out the roadside assistance services offered by the Better World Club and the Good Hands Roadside Assistance program.
Make a comparison of the roadside assistance service offered by these companies and choose which one will best suit your needs as a driver. Don’t immediately go for the cheapest, but do consider what’s included with the roadside assistance coverage.
Take Advantage of Membership Discounts
If you’re still not satisfied with the kind of roadside assistance plan that you’re considering buying, bring out all your membership cards. If you have executive membership for Costco, they do offer free roadside assistance with Ameriprise.
If you have a Sam’s Club membership, you can get free towing service for up to ten miles, you can get assistance for dead car batteries, tire changes or fuel assistance. Sometimes, the discounts that you are looking for are right in your wallet – so bring out all those membership cards and make call inquiries now!
Go Online and Make a Comparison of the Prices
Your goal is to look for a quite comprehensive roadside assistance coverage, but without having to pay a lot of money for the extra feature. Remember that you are already paying a lot on your car loan, car insurance policy, gas money and other car-related expenses – so you need not add more. Go online and make a comparison of the plans offered by different companies offering roadside assistance.
If you drive a long distance from work, a more comprehensive coverage might be suited for you. But if you only drive occasionally, the most basic plan should work. Check on the Terms and Conditions so that you can make an informed decision as to which plan will work for you.
In the end, the typical costs of towing services outside a plan are still higher as compared to the monthly payment that you will put towards roadside assistance. Aside from saving money, you can peace of mind knowing that should you experience car emergencies roadside, you can call on your roadside assistance company to get yourself – and your car – back to safety.