Third-Party Roadside Assistance: What You Get
These organizations work to keep you from being stranded on the side of the road.
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Since the early days of the automobile in the United States, certain clubs and organizations have supported motorists in need of roadside assistance. Today, such services remain popular with drivers who want protection against the automotive unexpected, whether those drivers are stuck at home with a dead battery or sitting on the shoulder of the road with a flat tire.
Here's a look at some of the most popular third-party roadside assistance providers, including information on how their services compare and what you can expect to pay for membership.
AAA roadside assistance
The American Automobile Association is one of the biggest names in organizations that help motorists out of a jam. AAA roadside assistance has been available for more than 100 years.
The organization's roadside assistance features towing service, flat-tire replacement, jump-starts, fuel delivery, locksmith services, and minor roadside repairs. Additional perks to AAA membership include discounts on car rentals, hotel bookings, and vehicle inspections.
Three membership plans are available. While each includes four service calls per year, the memberships differ primarily in how far the tow truck will take you. The Classic plan offers 5 miles of towing or less, while the Plus plan extends to 100 miles and Premier includes one 200-mile tow plus three 100-mile tows. The more expensive the program, the more service vehicles are available to customers, including winching and vehicle extraction.
Pricing for AAA roadside assistance varies depending on the region of the country. For example, service starts at $56 annually for Classic membership in Southern California but can be higher in other areas.
AARP Roadside Assistance
AARP (known until 1999 as the American Association of Retired Persons) provides a roadside assistance service in partnership with Allstate. AARP's program is very similar to Allstate's; the insurance company manages both. The primary differences between Allstate and AARP coverage are the names of each membership tier.
AARP members are eligible for Roadside Assist and Roadside Elite coverage through Allstate. Roadside Assist includes visits from a tow truck, jump-starts, locksmith services, fuel delivery, and tire installation, with up to five service calls per year. Roadside Elite provides the same protections, with the towing range increased from 10 to 100 miles, the maximum number of service calls going from five to seven, and the addition of a $1,500 trip-interruption reimbursement.
There's another notable difference between the Assist and Elite membership levels. Service calls for the Assist tier (which costs $5.50 per month for the first year) break down into two calls for single members, three for couples, and five for families. It costs nothing to add a second member of the household to the membership, but to move up to family membership there is a $45 fee. Elite members ($10.92 per month for the first year) get four rescues for singles, five for couples, and seven for families, with a $60 upcharge for the latter. Renewal pricing for each membership level is also higher than the first-year costs ($6.11 monthly for Assist and $13.65 for Elite).
AT&T Roadside Assistance
AT&T might not be the first name that comes to mind when you're seeking roadside assistance. However, the telecommunications company (like AARP) partners with Allstate to make this service available to its subscribers. Technically, Signature Motor Club, part of Allstate, manages the program.
AT&T roadside assistance resembles most of the other offerings on this list. Members can receive jump-starts, up to 3 gallons of gas delivered, lockout services (up to $50), winching and towing, minor repairs, and flat-tire replacement. Membership includes discounts on Avis car rentals. AT&T provides four service calls per year.
Pricing starts at $2.99 per month. You must be an AT&T wireless customer to participate.
Better World Club
Better World Club has put a planet-friendly spin on roadside assistance by focusing on carbon-neutral operation for the past two decades.
There are two editions of Better World Club membership for automobiles, each with the same general protections and services. Basic members benefit from towing, flat-tire replacement, lockout service, winching, fuel delivery, and trip-interruption coverage. The Premium tier expands the towing range from 5 miles to 100 miles. The trip interruption maximum grows from $1,000 to $1,500, and the tier waives up to 2 gallons of fuel costs. Adding recreational vehicle coverage to Premium plans is possible for an additional fee.
Better World Club charges $61.95 per year for Basic membership and $99.95 per year for Premium. There is a $15 sign-up fee unless you are moving over from AAA, in which case there's no charge. A 10% discount applies to hybrid and EV owners, while a gas-guzzler surcharge applies in some cases for less efficient vehicles.
Good Sam Roadside Assistance
Good Sam is known for offering services to owners of recreational vehicles, a segment of the market it has covered since 1966. The organization also provides roadside assistance to those who own cars and trucks.
Good Sam roadside assistance coverage offers a trio of options for motorists. Its Platinum plan includes unlimited-mileage towing; flat-tire replacement; fuel, oil, and coolant delivery; emergency repairs; locksmith services; and jump-starts. The Platinum+ plan adds trip-interruption reimbursement (up to $1,200), while the Platinum Complete option throws in emergency medical assistance and road-hazard coverage for tires and wheels.
Each of these plans applies to the entire household, but there are exclusions regarding vehicle types.
Verizon Roadside Assistance
Like AT&T, Verizon is a mobile-communications provider that markets a roadside assistance service. It covers the major categories of help that motorists need most often, including towing (up to 10 miles, with $5 per mile charged past that limit), battery charging, fuel delivery (as much as 3 gallons), winching, and flat-tire replacement using the existing spare.
Unlike AT&T, Verizon roadside assistance offers little in the way of additional perks. However, it does provide a unique transferability clause that allows anyone using an enrolled mobile device to benefit from the program, regardless of whether their name is on the account. The service costs $4.99 per year per device.