Any roadside assistance you choose should cover you, the person, no matter where you are or what car you have with you – not just one specific vehicle. It should be flexible enough to suit your specific requirements and comprehensive enough so that you’re not left with large out-of-pocket expenses after the breakdown, for the services desired.
Another important thing to consider is the turnaround time – how long does will it take for an employee to reach you after a service call? What are the benefits? Are there any discounts or freebies?
Roadside assistance plans are essentially divided into three categories:
#1: Freebies: In this case the roadside assistance is included in the package for free when you buy a new car or a certified pre-owned car. Some car dealerships offer these plans. Basically, a tow will be provided which takes your car to the nearest dealership. Of course, this is never entirely free; look for hidden or add-on charges to be included later.
#2: Add-on Plans: Add-on plans are provided by many businesses and organizations such as Sam’s Club and AARP for a small membership fee. These programs are contracted out to local roadside assistance providers across the country.
#3: Stand-Alone Plans: Stand-alone roadside assistance plans offer specialized roadside assistance to clients based on their specific requirements. These plans are very unique and generally preferred by families with teen drivers.
What to expect from roadside assistance plans?
There are a few specific things to look for in every roadside assistance plan.
#1: Do they offer 24/7 coverage?
What if your car breaks down at 3 am on the highway in the middle of nowhere? Does the roadside plan offer a 24/7 service and send help when you’re in desperate need?
#2: Do they offer Towing?
The bare minimum you’d want from a roadside assistance program is to send someone to tow you to the nearest service center no matter where you are and when you call them. If they can’t do that, don’t bother about them.
#3: Do they offer lockout assistance, fuel delivery and flat tire services?
These are some of the basic services the roadside program should provide. Find out if these services are free and included in the breakdown insurance plan (which would be great!)
#4: Do they offer any extras, freebies or discounts?
Some plans offer discounts at repair shops, hotels and car rentals.
#5: What about the response time?
Doe the roadside program offer timely help and come to your aid when you need it most? What’s the average wait time for the service?
#6: Do they have a presence across the United States?
Does your roadside program have a comprehensive presence in Arizona and elsewhere in the United States? Do they offer overseas coverage?
#7: How good is the customer service?
You’d expect the customer service to be prompt and responsive and operate on a 24/7 basis.
AAA is the most well known of all roadside assistance programs. They cover all the basic requirements listed above and offer breakdown insurance at an affordable cost. Membership fees vary by the region, but are fairly affordable.
AARP is one of the most popular roadside assistance programs in the country. AARP plans are targeted at individuals over 50 years or older and cover all 50 states in the United States. They also cover Canada. The membership fee is only $16/year. This is in addition to the roadside plan you choose. You can add an additional family member for an extra $10/year.