Does my auto insurance cover roadside assistance?

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Things to remember...

  • Traditional auto insurance policies do not cover roadside assistance
  • You can buy a supplemental policy for roadside assistance, which covers car breakdowns, flat tires, and other situations where you need help on the side of the road
  • You can purchase these policies from your current car insurance provider or a third party, such as an auto club or a discount club
  • If an accident is the cause of a car breakdown, your primary insurance policy takes priority
  • You can get the best deal on auto insurance by shopping around and comparing several quotes

You buy car insurance so you don’t have to pay out of pocket for the damages to your car or someone else’s after an accident.

Insurance allows you to pay a reasonable amount each month, or every six months, for the security of knowing you won’t have a huge bill in a worst-case-scenario situation.

But there are limits on what car insurance covers. These limits can vary based on the policy you choose.

For instance, the least-expensive policies that keep you within the parameters of the law while driving cover you for only a modest amount of liability when you hit another driver. These policies don’t pay for anything having to do with your car.

Then you have more robust policies that pay not only for damage to your car in an accident but also for the destruction caused by other events, such as theft, vandalism or storm damage.

Another situation where you might need help is when your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road.

A car breakdown can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area or there’s lots of traffic. Can you call your insurance company to help in this situation?

If you have a traditional insurance policy, then, unfortunately, chances are you probably can’t. But read on to learn how you can protect yourself with supplemental insurance for roadside assistance.

Compare car insurance quotes right here to find the insurance coverage you need at a rate you can afford.

What Traditional Policies Cover

Traditional policies cover you for damages or injuries in an accident or non-accident situation. The extent of your coverage depends on the type or types of car insurance you have. The three main kinds of car insurance are as follows.

  • Liability insurance – this covers only damage to another person’s vehicle or injuries to their person. All states except two (New Hampshire and Virginia) require liability coverage for you to drive legally. This option gives you the cheapest car insurance, but understand that you won’t be covered for damage to your own vehicle or injuries to yourself.
  • Collision insurance – this covers damage to your vehicle in an accident where you are at fault. (If the other driver is at fault, their insurance should cover your damage.) Any damage to your car from something other than an accident (e.g., storm damage) isn’t covered by collision insurance.
  • Comprehensive insurance – this coverage is for damage that occurs to your vehicle in non-collision situations. The most common are storms, theft, and vandalism.

Notice that roadside assistance isn’t listed for any of these coverage types. That’s because a roadside breakdown isn’t an event caused by external forces, such as a car crash or a tree falling on your car during a tornado.

It’s more akin to a car repair, such as for a blown transmission or worn brake pads – issues for which you wouldn’t file a claim with your auto insurance.

But don’t fret. If you need coverage for roadside assistance, you can find it with ease. The following sections give you your options on where to obtain this coverage.

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Where to Buy Roadside Assistance Insurance

Specific auto insurance exists just for roadside assistance. What’s more, this coverage typically costs much less than traditional auto insurance coverage.

While you might pay $100 a month or more if you have collision and comprehensive insurance, you can often find roadside assistance insurance for $100 a year or less.

You can buy roadside assistance insurance from your current auto insurance company or from a third-party provider.

– Current Auto Insurance Company

The first place you might want to look for roadside assistance coverage is with your current auto insurance company. Most of the major carriers offer this coverage.

Buying from your current company offers convenience since all your car insurance coverage will be with the same company.

Moreover, your carrier might offer bundle discounts, where they lower the premiums on either your primary or supplemental policy for having multiple coverage types with them.

You can also frequently find such discounts when you buy homeowner’s insurance or life insurance from the same company you use for auto insurance.

– Third-Party Provider

Before agreeing to roadside assistance from your current car insurance company, it’s a good idea to check with third-party providers to see what they offer. You might be able to find a better deal.

There are several companies that specialize in this coverage and have excellent reputations. Consider getting a quote from one or more of these companies and putting it side by side with the offer from your current car insurance company and comparing them.

If you’re a member of a trade union or discount club, you might be able to obtain roadside assistance coverage there. Various clubs and civic organizations sometimes offer it as a membership perk.

Even your cell phone provider offers a potential place to look for roadside assistance insurance. The more options you investigate, the more likely you are to find the best deal on the market.

What if I need assistance following an accident?

Here’s an interesting question: what if you have a car accident that necessitates an insurance claim, but you also need roadside assistance because your car is immobilized and you are stranded?

As a general rule, your traditional auto insurance policy kicks in on roadside assistance if the need for it arises from a situation in which a valid claim is filed.

For instance, if your car needs towing following a collision, your traditional insurance, assuming you have collision coverage, pays for the tow truck cost.

If you have comprehensive coverage and your vehicle is vandalized in a parking lot to the point where it won’t start, your traditional insurance should cover the cost of towing your vehicle to a repair shop.

On the other hand, if you’re driving down the interstate and hear the familiar hum and vibration of a flat tire, you should call the company with which you have roadside assistance coverage to send out help. If you prefer to do it yourself, then you may want to pick up one of these wrenches to speed up the job.

Obtaining the Best Car Insurance Coverage

Whether it’s traditional coverage or a supplemental policy for roadside assistance, you want to be sure you’re getting the best deal on auto insurance. There are tons of policies out there to choose from, and sometimes it can get overwhelming.

The following tips can help you find the best policy for your needs and ensure you’re always getting the best deal.

– Compare Several Options

You don’t have to go with the first company that offers you a quote. Statistically speaking, the first quote you receive isn’t likely to be the best deal.

Instead, look at three to four different options before making your decision. This way, you’ll have a frame of references to use for judging each quote. When you make your choice, you can do it with confidence knowing that it’s the best out of the several you reviewed.

– Review Your Coverage

Your insurance needs change over time. The insurance business itself is also fluid. The policy that was best for you six months ago might not still be best going forward. For this reason, you should conduct regular policy reviews.

Determine if your needs have changed, and also investigate whether another company now has a better policy to fit what you’re looking for.

– Check Company Ratings

Insurance companies get rated on their ability to pay claims and their customer service quality. Evaluating these ratings before making your decision can help you pick the company that will offer you the best experience and the most reliability.

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