Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Aug 11, 2021

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Key takeaways...

  • Your auto insurance may cover towing, lockout services, or tire changes if you have roadside assistance
  • Roadside assistance is an optional type of coverage that can be added to each car on your policy
  • Most companies require policyholders to have full coverage on cars before they can select roadside assistance
  • The cost of roadside assistance under your insurance is minimal and makes little difference on your premiums
  • If you have coverage through a motor vehicle association, your insurance policy will provide backup protection

Emergencies happen at the most inopportune times. When you get a flat tire or run out of gas, it can completely ruin your day.

Not only is a breakdown or flat inconvenient, but it can also be dangerous when you’re stranded on a busy road. The best thing that you can do is prepare for these unexpected moments so that you have someone to call in the event of an emergency.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a daily commuter or you only drive on the weekends, you’re just one trip away from needing emergency roadside assistance.

You can always call a towing company for help, but the cost of a tow has gone up dramatically in the last few years. Instead of letting the need for a tow break the bank, you should consider adding roadside assistance to your insurance policy.

Need better coverage with better roadside assistance? Enter your ZIP code above and compare at least three to four policies today!

Does a standard policy cover emergency roadside assistance services?

A standard insurance policy doesn’t afford the policyholder unlimited protection. There are several limitations under a standard policy because it only includes the coverage that’s required under state law and nothing more.

If you choose to pay for mandatory minimum coverage, you will not have emergency roadside assistance coverage under your auto policy that pays for services under any circumstance.

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What is a wear and tear exclusion?

Having an accident is very different from breaking down. Auto insurance has some very straightforward exclusions written into the contract that pertains to each policy.

One of the most common exclusions that is written into a personal auto policy is the wear and tear exclusion.

Wear and tear exclusions state that there is no coverage under the policy for damage or breakdowns that occur as the vehicle ages and deteriorates.

This type of coverage is afforded under a car warranty and not under a property insurance policy. Be aware of this exclusion when you’re buying your insurance policy.

If you get into an accident, will towing be covered?

It’s impossible to drive a vehicle away from the scene of an accident when it’s mangled. It can save you time if your vehicle is still operable, but in many instances, the vehicle needs to be towed.

When a car is involved in a collision, there’s a chance that towing the car away from the site and to a shop could be covered, all depending on fault and insurance.

If the insurer has determined that you were at fault for the accident, your insurance won’t pay for towing or any other expenses unless you carry collision under the personal plan.

A basic policy doesn’t pay for your own towing because you don’t have the coverage to pay for a claim.

When you’re declared the victim in the accident, it’s the at-fault driver’s policy that will be activated to pay for accident-related expenses. Drivers are liable for paying for the damages that they cause.

Since the damage to the vehicle is what ultimately created the need for a towing service call, the call will be covered under the third-party driver’s Property Damage Liability coverage.

Can you add coverage that protects you when you break down?

Policies have wear and tear exclusions, but there are always exceptions to the rule. The exclusion applies when you’re filing a physical damage claim after what you believe is a comprehensive or collision claim.

If you add the emergency roadside assistance coverage option to your policy, the breakdown-related exclusion doesn’t apply.

Emergency assistance is an optional type of coverage that’s offered by a majority of auto insurance companies.

It’s not a coverage that’s required by law to be offered to policyholders, but it is offered to customers for additional protection. You should check to see if the carrier that you’re with now offers the option.

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Can anybody add emergency roadside assistance to their policy?

If you find carriers that offer emergency roadside assistance, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be eligible for the coverage. Your policy has to meet certain conditions before you’ll be able to add the protection.

Whenever you add the coverage, it will only cover a specific car and not every car on your policy.

Generally speaking, you have to carry at least comprehensive and collision under your policy before roadside assistance can be added. Some carriers are more lenient and will allow you to have the optional coverage with only comprehensive coverage.

If you have third-party liability coverage without other options, you can’t purchase this protection through your auto insurance carrier.

What does emergency roadside assistance coverage pay for?

Every carrier has a different menu of services that are covered under the company’s roadside assistance program. There are various limitations and coverage maximums for every service provided, but roadside assistance service can be useful even when it comes to providing a spare tire or jumping a dead battery. There may be an additional cost for various services, so it’s always best to do some research.

You may have to verify what your carrier offers in their assistance program, but here are some of the typical offerings:

  • Flat tire change
  • Fuel delivery service
  • Locksmith service
  • Battery jump-starts
  • Towing service

How much are the premiums for roadside assistance?

You won’t get roadside assistance coverage for free. It does come at a cost no matter how minimal that cost might be.

When you’re pricing the cost of insurance, you should compare the coverage premiums just to see if it’s worth it. Since you can use the services multiple times, it might be best to pay the extra rate.

The average premium for roadside assistance under a personal auto policy is around five to seven dollars per month, which can bump up your total insurance expense around $84 per year.

Considering the factor that the average five-mile tow will cost up to $125, the protection will pay for itself if you use it just one time. It’s almost worth the added premium to know that you have protection.

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What happens if you have coverage through a motor vehicle association?

One of the most popular motor vehicle associations in the U.S. is AAA. If you’re already a member, you might not need the added protection under your auto policy.

Having either one is great, but when you have coverage through both AAA and your insurer, you can only file a claim against one of the two. If you go over your call limit, it’s nice to have a backup plan.

The best thing that you can do to find the best deal on auto insurance is shop around. Shopping around helps you get quotes for desirable coverage so that you can see which carrier has the best roadside assistance plans.

Use an online quoting system to price the cost of roadside assistance coverage and apply for coverage all through the system to make sure you’re getting the best from roadside assistance plans.

Try our FREE online quote tool and start comparison shopping today for better car insurance! Enter your ZIP code below!


  1. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/roadside-assistance-beware-the-gaps/index.htm
  2. https://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2010/12/17/roadside-assistance-sabotage-car-insurance.html
  3. https://www.thebalance.com/how-much-are-towing-fees-527064
  4. https://www.360financialliteracy.org/Topics/Insurance/Cars-and-Auto-Insurance/State-by-State-Minimum-Coverage-Requirements
  5. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/wear-and-tear-exclusion.asp
  6. https://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/95-guides/01-auto/hadaccident.cfm
  7. https://www.thebalance.com/comprehensive-vs-collision-coverage-527402
  8. https://www.irmi.com/online/insurance-glossary/terms/t/third-party-liability-coverage.aspx
  9. http://money.cnn.com/2006/06/23/news/companies/towing_insurance/
  10. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-much-does-tow-truck-cost.htm
  11. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/roadside-assistance-services/