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Whether on a cross-country road trip or a quick errand across town, it's never a good time for a vehicle to break down. With a Roadside Assistance plan, drivers have protection against the inconvenience and danger of being stranded by the side of the road and can trust that help will be on the way.
While motor clubs used to be the only way to access these protection plans, today there is a wide range of Roadside Assistance plans from which to choose, from credit card providers to insurance companies. Plans can include flat-tire changing, fuel or coolant delivery, help with stuck vehicles, and some even offer financial help with legal defense in the event of a speeding ticket!
Tuesday, January 19th
Established in 1984, Good Sam has successfully handled more than two million roadside breakdowns, as evidenced by their A+ rating as an accredited Better Business Bureau company. Although they may be a household name for RV users, both because of their roadside assistance plans and nationwide network of approved campgrounds, Good Sam's coverage for traditional automobiles, motorcycles, and even boat trailers is comprehensive, reputable, and affordable.
Their assistance plan for auto coverage alone (with no coverage for an RV) is just $59.95 per year, one of the most affordable plans on the market. This plan includes the member's spouse or domestic partner, and all dependent children under 25 at no extra charge. Other providers charge extra to include those additional family members.
Good Sam also stands out with its coverage limits: the plan covers five service calls per membership year and unlimited towing mileage to the nearest service center. In contrast, several other well-known roadside assistance companies limit service calls to only three per year and have a towing limit of a mere five miles before charging the customer extra. The other covered services - flat tires, jump starts, emergency fuel and fluids (member pays for the fuel / fluids), lost key and lockout assistance (member pays for any additional parts and labor) - are on par with most other major roadside assistance companies.
Good Sam has the widest geographic coverage of the providers we reviewed. They can service customers in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Their plan includes trip interruption assistance up to $2,000, emergency medical referral service in the event of an accident or illness while traveling, and an average arrival time of 45-60 minutes from the time the call is made to the Good Sam customer service center.
One important detail we discovered: the site only lists Platinum as the available coverage for strictly auto, but there is actually a second plan level known as Platinum Plus that can only be obtained by calling Good Sam directly. The critical difference between Platinum and Platinum Plus is that, with the former plan, the coverage does not extend to rented or borrowed vehicles. To get that coverage, the Platinum Plus plan would be required. In general, the Plus plan is an extra $10 per year.
When roadside service is necessary, there is no need for the customer to fill out reimbursement forms or pay for services out-of-pocket. Everything is prepaid by Good Sam directly to the provider.
Finally, Good Sam's satisfaction guarantee is excellent. Within the first 30 days of membership, customers are entitled to a full refund, no questions asked. After the initial 30-day period, a prorated refund of dues will be given even if services were used during that time. This is far more generous than most roadside assistance programs, who often give no refund if services were utilized.
Good Sam offers the widest coverage available on the market, particularly for RV owners, and their low price makes it affordable for larger households to cover every family member. Their well-established history, superb customer service, and broad geographic coverage make Good Sam our top-rated choice for roadside assistance.
Allstate is one of the most recognized providers in the auto insurance market, and it's no surprise that their Motor Club roadside assistance plans are thorough, reputable, and widely available. Allstate offers three levels of service: $52/year for a Basic plan, $108/year for the mid-range Deluxe plan, and $186/year for the Platinum Elite plan. Unlike another well-known provider, Allstate's premiums are the same nationwide and do not depend on one's ZIP code.
While each plan only includes two household members, Allstate generously covers teen drivers ages 16-18 in the same household with Emergency Roadside Assistance at no extra cost. For drivers ages 16-23 who want full membership benefits, they can be covered at $24/year per person. All plans cover members in any vehicle: their own, a rental, or even as a passenger with a friend. These two aspects of the Motor Club should get the attention of families with teenagers.
Allstate's coverage is similar to the majority of roadside assistance companies: all plans include lockout service, fuel delivery, road and tow service, trip interruption up to $750, $500 arrest bond, $100 roadside assistance benefit, plus member-only discounts on travel, shopping, and more. Unlike other providers, Allstate does not limit towing by mileage but rather by the cost of the service: $100 with the Basic plan, $150 with Deluxe, and $250 with Platinum Elite, all per occurrence. Even in more expensive locations like California, where towing can cost as much as $10 per mile, this still provides more coverage than those companies who limit towing reimbursement to the first five miles.
Allstate definitely tries to meet the needs of every possible customer; there is coverage available for RV users, for example, and for those who prefer access to service discounts without the commitment of a yearly membership, their Good Hands Rescue option is pay-per-use.
All plans come with an on-time service guarantee: members receive help within 30 minutes or Allstate will give them a 25% discount on next year's dues
Allstate Motor Club also has a 30-day money-back guarantee, refunding dues within the first month. If members wish to cancel a new or renewed membership past the initial 30 days, Allstate will reimburse membership fees prorated from the start of the membership plan.
Our only less-than-positive impression of Allstate's Motor Club is in regards to the number of covered calls per membership year. While it was difficult to find the information on the site, a call to the toll-free customer service number revealed that coverage is limited by service level: Basic includes 3 calls, Deluxe includes 4 calls, and Platinum Elite has no limit but usage is monitored. While Allstate's Basic plan is affordable and attractive for larger families, only three covered service calls in a year might not offer enough coverage; however, with the unlimited calls promised with the Platinum Elite membership, it may be worth the extra cost per year.
Overall, Allstate Motor Club is an excellent choice for roadside assistance coverage.
CARCHEX is a recognized name in the automobile inspection and extended warranty service provider market, with almost a perfect 100% satisfaction rate to back their A+ with the Better Business Bureau. Now, CARCHEX is also making a name for itself as a good choice for roadside assistance.
CARCHEX offers three plans for coverage: single-vehicle coverage with up to five service calls per year at $34.95/year; single-vehicle coverage with unlimited service calls per year at $54.95/year; and, unlimited vehicles for up to four members (where the coverage follows the member, even in a rental or a friend's car), up to five service calls per year at $74.95/year. We were particularly impressed by their three-month free trial promotion available at the time of our review, making it truly risk-free to try CARCHEX's services.
In the event that a new member is not satisfied with their plan, he or she can cancel within the first 30 days to receive a full refund of any membership fees paid.
Another way in which CARCHEX stands out is in its towing allowance: towing to the destination of your choice, up to 25 miles per tow regardless of the plan chosen. Comparable plans with big-name roadside assistance companies only cover three miles. They also cover Emergency Battery Service, 24-Hour Flat Tire Service, Mechanical First Aid (such as minor adjustments to enable a disabled vehicle), Lost Key/Lockout Service, and 24-Hour Emergency Fluid Delivery (the member does pay the cost of the gas or other needed fluids).
CARCHEX does not offer some of the other frills of the big-name companies, but members can access Trip Route Mapping and a Theft Reward of $500 if their vehicle is stolen and information is provided that leads to an arrest and conviction.
CARCHEX prides itself on an average response time of 30 minutes, with a network of more than 45,000 service trucks across the US and Canada. When using CARCHEX's network, members do not have to pay for covered services out of pocket, as the contracted service providers bill the company directly.
Customers can easily get in touch with CARCHEX's roadside assistance department through their toll-free number which is prominently featured at the top of the website, or via the Live Chat option. We found their customer service representatives to be responsive, knowledgeable, and helpful.
The only two major drawbacks of CARCHEX's roadside assistance plans that we could identify are that there is currently no coverage for RVs or motorcycles, and that they are not available to residents of California and Puerto Rico.
Overall, we are impressed with CARCHEX's generous towing distance and number of allowed service calls per year, affordable plans that can meet a variety of situations (for example, families with multiple drivers, single adults, and so on), and broad network coverage of Canada and the United States.
Formed in 1902, the American Automobile Association-commonly known as AAA or even "Triple-A"-has more than 55 million members who use their roadside assistance plans to cover themselves in case of an emergency while on the road. All plans include towing, emergency starting, battery service, flat tire service, fuel delivery (member pays for fuel in Classic plan), locksmith service, extrication/winching, car travel interruption, travel planning, passport photos free or at reduced cost, and more. Some AAA regions also include bicycle coverage in all memberships, while others have it as an option.
AAA's website makes it easy to compare plans across Classic, Plus, and Premier levels; we appreciate that there are no secrets as to what is covered and what is excluded. Users of the website enter their ZIP code, which takes them to the site applicable to their region of the country. Different information is presented based on region/local website; however, it appears that the membership refund policy allows members to get unused months' fees reimbursed within the first three months of a new membership.
Coverage for motorcycles is available at all membership levels; RVs/Trailer coverage is only offered at Plus/Premier levels. Also, every level of membership covers users in their own vehicles, as well as rentals, borrowed vehicles, and while riding in a friend's car.
Across all three membership levels, roadside assistance calls are limited to four per member per year, after which members can get service at AAA's pre-negotiated, discounted rate with service providers. This puts them in the middle of the pack with respect to other roadside assistance companies. On the other hand, their towing coverage is only 5 miles for Classic, 100 for Plus, and 250 for Premier members. For such a large, well-established company, we would expect their minimum mileage to meet or beat other assistance plans on the market instead of being one of the least generous.
However, AAA is unmatched when it comes to its additional perks and benefits through their network: discounts at dining, shopping, motels, theme park and other attractions; prescription savings; identity theft protection through ProtectMyID; free registration with WeatherFX for severe weather alerts; and, notary, fax, copy services at AAA offices nationwide.
While we're not impressed with AAA's skimpy mileage coverage for its lowest-tier membership plans, their reputation within the industry and extraordinary level of additional benefits is worth considering.
You know a company is different when it says "My Auto Club is kicking asphalt. And yours?" Better World Club's tagline is "America's only eco-friendly auto club", and the "green" focus of this A-rated, BBB-accredited business is evident throughout their roadside assistance membership plans.
Customers with hybrid vehicles can get a discount of 10%, while drivers of one of their list of ten worst gas-guzzling cars will pay extra fees of 20%. Also, 1% of all revenues goes to environmental advocacy and clean-up efforts. Their site emphasizes not being a part of what they call "the Highway Lobby"; instead, Better World Club supports funding and development of bike lanes and mass transit, along with broad enforcement of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
Their roadside assistance coverage closely mirrors what other major providers offer: a towing radius of only 5 miles on the Basic plan and 100 miles with Premium coverage; four covered service calls per year; similar bail bond, trip interruption, and legal fee reimbursement coverage to more well-known companies.
Additionally, Better World Club allows members to add comprehensive roadside coverage for bicycles for $17 per year; member testimonials both on BWC's site and independently posted on social networking sites indicate that their service is reliable and cost-effective for both two-wheeled and four-wheeled transportation, with a response time that averages an impressive 38 minutes. Coverage is limited to the 50 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico, with Mexico as a notable exclusion that is included with some other plans.
Plan costs start at $57.95 for Basic memberships and $92.95 for Premium, with additional family members covered for an additional $35 to $49 per person. This is significantly more expensive than most other providers; however, if members are switching from AAA, Better World Club will waive their sign-up fees. Also, even without a membership in AAA, customers can call Better World Club and ask for a price match of their local AAA's membership fees.
Better World Club has a generous cancellation policy: a full refund within 30 days of enrollment, or a prorated refund after the first month. This provider does reserve the right to cancel membership due to unusual frequency of claims.
Better World Club's plans give customers the opportunity to be more environmentally-friendly while protecting themselves against unforeseen events on the road. We like their refund policy, their ample coverage for bicyclists, and their commitment to a "green" lifestyle, but we'd like to see more reasonable membership costs.
Auto Road Service is a division of auto warranty company Auto Advantage Inc. a well-respected business with an A+ rating and accreditation by the BBB. They pride themselves on being a "truly affordable" provider of roadside assistance coverage, and their no-frills plans include a towing range of 35 miles, three allowable claims per year, and travel planning and discount programs similar to the big-name companies within the auto coverage industry.
Their website has a thorough FAQ for customer questions, and a quickly-answered call to their toll-free number resulted in a confirmation that Auto Road Service's coverage follows the member regardless of the car driven. We would have liked to see this information featured on the site, along with several customer testimonials or reviews indicating their overall experience with the services provided.
Customers should understand that Auto Road Service truly does offer just the basic roadside assistance services-towing, battery jump start, fuel/fluids, etc.-and not any of the additional services commonly offered by other roadside assistance memberships, such as legal defense assistance, arrest bond coverage, or travel interruption benefits. However, their coverage does extend beyond the fifty states to Canada and Mexico, unlike a few of the bigger-name companies. Also, coverage is available for RVs and motorcycles.
While their call center handles over 4 million roadside assistance calls annually, using the same network as many other major companies, Auto Road Service offers a $100 reimbursement if a network provider is not available for a needed service. Within their network, they offer "Sign and Drive": Auto Road Service pays the provider directly, while the member only needs to sign for the qualified services and drive away.
Unfortunately, Auto Road Service's membership price offers less coverage for services extended by other major roadside assistance companies with comparable membership fees.
Paragon Motor Club offers two levels of coverage for customers looking for roadside assistance: a Basic plan at $69.95 per year or $7.49 per month, and an Advantage plan at $84.95 per year or $8.99 per month. These memberships include the primary member and the spouse; additional members can be covered at $18 per year.
Both plans include $100 in coverage towards extricating/winching, flat tire assistance, lost key/lockout service, and vehicle fluid delivery, with benefits applying to members while in any vehicle whether it is their own, rented, or riding as a passenger. However, only the Advantage plan includes benefits such as trip interruption coverage, travel discounts, and customized trip routing that are often part of membership plans offered by other companies.
Paragon Motor Club is the only provider we found that offers Tire and Wheel protection: coverage pricing depends on the make of vehicle ($9.99/mo. or $99.99/year for standard, $14.99/mo. or $149.99/year for high-end makes like Cadillac, Land Rover, and Lexus).
Drivers looking for coverage of not just cars but also motorcycles, RVs, and Trailers will be satisfied with Paragon's coverage, unless they live in the state of California: for some reason, it is the only state among the fifty that is not available.
Paragon's mileage allowance for towing is better than several better-known businesses: the Classic plan covers 15 miles for towing, while the Advantage plan's limit is 100 miles. Their service call limit is also more generous, at five allowed calls per membership year. Canada is included in their coverage, while Mexico is not.
While Paragon does not offer a satisfaction guarantee, they do offer a refund for cancellation with any remaining months' fees returned at a prorated amount.
Overall, we like what Paragon has to offer-especially in their 15-mile allowance for towing and five service calls per year-and we think that their additional Tire and Wheel policy is a good add-on for many members. However, we'd like to see Paragon Motor Club extend its services to California drivers as well as covering services in Mexico like several other major providers of roadside assistance plans.
Originally offering services to dealerships and commercial customers for almost 30 years, Houston-based Best Roadside Service checks all the boxes for individual roadside assistance plans: accredited with the BBB and currently holding an A+ rating. Plans are administered through Nation Motor Club, which has been in business for more than 50 years, handling more than 70,000 roadside assistance calls per month. Even more, Best Roadside Service's website has dozens of satisfied customer testimonials from around the country and Canada.
Their service coverage includes what one would expect from a roadside assistance plan: 24-hour towing, jump start, flat tire repair, lockout service, lost key replacement up to $100, delivery of 3 gallons of fuel at no charge, $50 toward extraction/winching, and the unique service of emergency personal assistance (such as sending messages to members' loved ones in an emergency). Best Roadside Service also gives members access to trip/travel routing services as well as discounts with other businesses, similar to what is offered by bigger-name companies in the roadside assistance industry.
We were also impressed with their coverage of towing up to 75 miles, especially when many household-name providers of roadside assistance only cover a mere five miles. Also, their average response time from call to arrival on-scene is an impressive 34 minutes. Their software can even use the member's cell phone to dispatch providers while on the call with customer service, and support is available in English, Spanish, and French.
Coverage is available for motorcycles and scooters, but there are no plans for RVs or trailers. Best Roadside Service's website clearly spells out any limitations on their plans, such as four calls per year on individual plans, lockout coverage up to $100, and no coverage for extrication/dig-out of snowbound vehicles.
Where Best Roadside Service falls short is in their plan structure and in their refund policy. Unlike most plans, Best Roadside's coverage is limited either to one vehicle or to one member. For families with multiple vehicles or multiple drivers, the cost of membership would go up quickly in order to cover more than one car or to cover members regardless of the vehicle. The majority of other roadside assistance companies either cover all vehicles or all drivers-or both. Also, family members must reside at the same address in order to be covered; this may not include children who are away at college within the membership plan.
With respect to refunds, Best Roadside Service will give members a prorated refund, minus an administrative fee of $10, only if the service hasn't been used for any reason. If a customer has an unsatisfactory experience with the service received, there is no opportunity to obtain a refund of any membership fees paid. This strikes us as overly harsh and might make customers reluctant to try their plans.
Overall, we like Best Roadside's generous 75-mile towing allowance, the clear evidence of customer satisfaction, and their easy-to-understand website. However, we think their refund policy is much stricter than other roadside assistance plans, and their pricing structure might be too expensive for families with multiple vehicles and/or drivers.
Some plans also tie the coverage to specific vehicles, while others allow the covered member (and often the other drivers in the household) to receive roadside service regardless of the vehicle. The latter can be particularly useful if a covered member is riding in a car belonging to another driver when a breakdown occurs, as the coverage will be extended to servicing that vehicle.
If you're shopping for a reputable provider of Roadside Assistance, you should consider the following.
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Roadside Assistance providers available today. We hope this information helps you find the right roadside assistance plan for you and your family!
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