September 14, 2011

When Roadside Assistance Programs Make Sense For Drivers

Roadside assistance is one of the least expensive auto insurance coverage options, and because it's inexpensive, it's an extremely popular addition to a standard car insurance policy. The coverage pays for the cost of towing, water delivery and other emergency roadside services. A towing bill can be well over $200, and as roadside assistance is usually less than five dollars per month, it can seem like a bargain. For some drivers, it's an obvious buy with potentially significant benefits, but it's not always an essential add-on and may be a waste of money for certain types of drivers.

The drivers who stand the best chance of benefiting from roadside assistance programs are the drivers who are on the road the most often. When a driver spends a few hours each day on the road, the chances of a breakdown are much higher, and the cost of roadside assistance services will be markedly higher for rural drivers than for city drivers as the towing company will probably have to drive farther to get to the driver's vehicle. Drivers who frequently commute long distances through rural areas would be a great example of a group that would likely benefit from roadside assistance auto insurance coverage. Likewise, drivers who spend a lot of time in new areas could potentially save some money with roadside assistance.

Some drivers probably won't benefit from a roadside assistance program, including drivers who rarely drive very far from their homes. Short commutes probably don't justify a roadside assistance add-on, as the chances of a breakdown are slim. It's hard to justify any added expense when towing services seem unlikely. It's also important to note that some towing bills are automatically covered by auto insurance. Roadside assistance only adds coverage for non-accident related towing bills, but bills that are a direct result of an accident will usually be covered under a driver's comprehensive or collision coverage. As such, roadside assistance programs are limited in their scope and are best used by frequent travelers.

Roadside assistance can also be purchased before a cross-country trip or in other situations where a driver might be driving a significantly high number of miles in a short period of time. It's a very useful coverage for policy holders who drive far from their homes, but as it provides a very specific and limited type of protection, it's not an essential add-on for every driver. Policy holders should read about the cost and terms of roadside assistance programs before signing up in order to ensure that the extra coverage is worth the extra cost, however small that extra cost might be.