Roadside Assistance: What Is It, and Do I Need It?


Imagine yourself on a nice, breezy drive across the country, away from the modern city, away from the noise and clatter. While this peaceful drive is making you feel elated with John Denver playing in the background, suddenly you hear a loud thud, and the car stops. All you can see is an endless stretch of road and smoke coming out from your engine. What do you do? If only you had gotten roadside assistance. But what is roadside assistance and when do you need it? 

What is Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance, as the name suggests, is a 24/7 service that insurance companies offer that assists you in case of any vehicle problem that you might experience on the road. The situation described in the introduction of the article is when roadside assistance would come in handy. In such a case, the company would send a mechanic to fix your vehicle and if it cannot be fixed there, then you get a free towing service and the vehicle is taken to the nearest repair facility.

Roadside assistance is almost always provided by the insurance companies, but sometimes, you can get it from separate companies as well, such as credit card companies, and car manufacturers. But as simple as it may sound, there are a lot of intricate details involved with roadside assistance. What are the things that are covered in RSA coverage, and the most important question is, when is the most beneficial time to get a roadside assistance plan and when to avoid it?

What Does Roadside Assistance Cover? 

Just like insurance coverage, roadside assistance coverage differs from company to company, albeit not drastically. So some companies will provide you with better towing services while some will provide a much better puncture service. Here’s what is generally covered in most the roadside assistance plans: 

  • Towing service: The company will provide you with a towing service and take your vehicle to the nearest repair facility, but only till a specific distance. Exceeding that distance will incur extra charges. 
  • Battery Start: In case your battery dies while you are out on the road, you get a battery jump-start service
  • Locksmithing service: For the unfortunate time if you lock yourself out of the car, the company can arrange a duplicate key or help you open the door. 
  • Fuel refilling: If you run out of fuel in the middle of the road with no gas stations nearby, roadside assistance will get your tank filled up. 
  • Flat tire: No one likes to see a flat tire in the middle of the road, and changing the tire is just as excruciating. RSA will get you a professional to get your tire changed. 
  • Additional services: These are some additional services that differ from one company to another. It could be medical assistance to messenger services. 

While all of these services are very enticing and will make you want to get roadside assistance for your vehicle, there are a few conditions that you need to consider that will probably kill your excitement. 

Conditions of Roadside Assistance

The first and universal condition is roadside assistance is not unlimited. So you cannot keep running out of fuel every month and ask for a tank refill. The same thing applies to all the services mentioned above. Depending on the company, all these services can be availed only for a limited number of times in a year or month. 

For example, most companies allow roadside assistance service utilization only four times a year. If something bad happens the fifth time, you are on your own. The other condition that is very common is refueling. You get only two or three refueling for the entire policy period (or one year). What can you do, fuel cost is soon going to get higher than some of these RSA policy prices!

Also, in any of the cases, you cannot avail of roadside assistance if during that ride you break any of the traffic laws or are driving under the influence. So with all these conditions, does a roadside assistance plan make any sense? Is it worth getting one? Let’s take a look at when getting an RSA will benefit you the most. 

Do You Need a Roadside Assistance Plan? 

The average cost of the most basic roadside assistance plan in the US is around $50, but it can go as high as $160. While it may not sound that much, how many times do you think you’ll run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere? Or maybe get a flat tire? So should you skip roadside assistance? 

Here are some of the factors you need to consider before getting roadside assistance, although we recommend getting a roadside assistance plan along with cheaper car insurance with all the features of an expensive insurance plan. 

Vehicle age: New vehicles are less likely to break down, especially if they get serviced frequently and regularly. So paying for roadside assistance for vehicles not older than 5-7 years makes no sense. But if your car is in a bad condition, then we’d recommend getting one.

Commute: If your vehicle is used just for nearby commutes, like from home to work and short weekend drives, then don’t get roadside assistance. Just learn how to change a flat tire and you’d be good to go. But if you drive long distances, then roadside assistance would be great for you.

So there you have it, everything you needed to know about roadside assistance and whether you should get it or not.