Is Emergency Roadside Assistance Worth The Cost?

The following post is by MPFJ staff writer Travis.  Travis is a customer blogger for Care One Debt Relief Services, and also appears weekly at Enemy of Debt.  Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off $109,000 of credit card debt and the tips he’s learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family.

Both hands held a suitcase, and additional bags were hanging off each arm as I walked through the parking lot.  We had stayed overnight in a hotel out-of-town and I was packing up the van to head home.  It was a struggle to click the button on the key to open the back-end, but after several attempts I finally heard the familiar beep that meant the door would be swinging upward momentarily.

With quick flick of my wrist I flung the van key which landed inside the van and then bounced a few inches forward.  I strategically placed the bags inside the van, and slammed the hatch door closed.   As soon as the door latched I knew I had made a mistake.  Checking all the doors I confirmed my fear, I had locked the keys in the van.

Insert several moments of very colorful language.

I then remembered that during a recent review of our auto insurance, I was reminded that we had emergency roadside assistance that covered just this kind of incident.  It would be slight inconvenience, but at least my mistake wouldn’t cost me out anything out-of-pocket.

I dialed up the number on the back of my insurance card and explained what had happened.  They asked me for some information, and then using the GPS capability on my phone, they were able to pinpoint my location.  They stated that they would contact someone in the area to unlock my vehicle, and they would call me directly when they were on their way.  Less than 10 minutes later, a tow truck pulled into the hotel parking lot and unlocked my doors.  I thanked the man as he jumped back into his truck and pulled away without even needing a signature from me.

Being the curious guy that I am, I wanted to find out what kind of value I was getting out of my emergency roadside assistance insurance. I later called up the towing company sent to help me and found that they would have charged me $45 had it not been covered by my insurance.  Since I pay $9.40 per year for emergency roadside assistance, I just recouped about 5 years of my premium payments.  But, even more valuable than that is the peace of mind and convenience my insurance provides.

1.)    In an unfamiliar area, I don’t have to worry about finding a service that is affordable or even open at the time  need it.

2.)    I do not have to pay for the expense out-of-pocket.  It turns an unexpected expense, into an expected monthly expense.

For a guy that has a habit of locking the keys in his car, these are very important points.

Additionally, my roadside assistance insurance covers:

1.)    Towing of a disabled vehicle

2.)    Roadside assistance for running out of gas

Every couple of months my wife and I scrub our monthly expenses looking for things to cut to save us money.  Emergency roadside assistance has been discussed more than once, but happily it has always made the cut.  It’s not a matter of if we’ll need it, it’s a matter of when.

How about you readers, do you have roadside assistance insurance?  How often have you used it?

 Share your experiences by commenting below!

***Photo courtesy of anankkml /


  1. I don’t have roadside assistance with my insurance, but it came with my car. The one thing I love about my car is that you can’t lock the keys in the car because it has a sensor that won’t allow the doors to lock if the keys are in the car. It is kind of nice. There are many other benefits to RA though and I am glad I have it.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted…How I Got Around Time Warner Cable’s Modem Rental FeeMy Profile

  2. Our prius has roadside assistance included so we opted out for that. Our corolla though is 7 years old and doesn’t so we decided to pay for it. I can change a flat tire, but other than that don’t know anything else. Definitely good to have!
    Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen recently posted…Jumping to Self-EmploymentMy Profile

  3. My dad has this track record with buying really terrible vehicles that constantly break down. I don’t know why he doesn’t get it, but he just doesn’t. In any case, roadside assistance has helped him a lot, but it’s been a waste for me. My car has never broken down and I know how to change my own tires.
    Daisy @ Young Finances recently posted…3 Reasons Why Kim Kardashian Has More Assets Than YouMy Profile

  4. I think the roadside assistance is good for peace of mind. Sometimes it is good for so much more.
    Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa recently posted…How am I ever going to Retire with all these Student Loans?My Profile

    • That’s my opinion, too, Michael. Even if I don’t make up the cost in usage, the peace of mind of knowing what it can do for me in an emergency is something that makes it worth it. When you’re broke down on the highway, or stuck with your keys in the car – it’s nice to know that there’s something that may help reduce the stress of a very uncomfortable situation.
      Travis @debtchronicles recently posted…Building Wealth – Money or Stuff? Go For MoneyMy Profile

  5. Definitely worth it….especially when I had my old car. I drained the battery one day listening to the radio while waiting on base for my husband to get done with work. They jumped my car. Another month later my car completely died while I was out running errands and the tow truck was free. I was quite a distance from home so it probably would have costed at least $250 to get it back there. I haven’t used it with my new car yet but it’s definitely something I consider worth every penny.
    Kasey @ Debt Perception recently posted…Paying Bills OnlineMy Profile

    • I almost typed “I’m glad to hear you’re getting use out of your Roadside assistance,” but then again, I’m not glad to hear you’re having car troubles. 🙂 It IS nice to know that if something DOES happen that you’re just a phone call away from someone else doing all the work of getting you help. Thanks for sharing, Kasey!
      Travis @debtchronicles recently posted…Hotel Room Fees Exposed!My Profile

  6. Definitely a fan of the AAA membership. We’ve used it a lot for discounts at attractions we go to, not just for car breakdowns, but peace of mind when traveling in a new location is nice to!

  7. Yep, certainly agree with the peace-of-mind approach, although the more technical types of us will still usually find that one can easily fix plenty of issues without expensive assistance.
    Kostas recently posted…How Technology Is Increasing Our Financial KnowledgeMy Profile

  8. I’ve had AAA for many years now, and it’s more than paid for itself with roadside assistance and free towing.

    Seriously, one year I used it so many times that I actually met the limit of free tows that I could get, which must have saved me more than $500 at the least, but luckily, I’ve gotten a better car since then, and I’m not breaking down as much as I used to.

    It definitely adds peace of mind when traveling, and with the extra discounts that you get, I’m at least getting my membership fees back every year, even when I don’t need towing, and usually more.
    Max recently posted…Barclaycard Arrival Card Credits Bonus Miles Next Day After Meeting Spending ThresholdMy Profile

    • WOW, Max that’s a LOT of towing!!! I’m glad you decided to get a more reliable car, I think if I had to have my car towed that often I’d be afraid to drive the thing. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experiences!
      Travis @debtchronicles recently posted…Hotel Room Fees Exposed!My Profile

      • Yeah, it was hit or miss on whether I would make it to work and back each day with that thing. Oh well, I guess it made for an adventure.

        Another thing I wanted to add is that you can actually use AAA to get your car towed from your house to a local mechanic if need be. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to do that, but if you call and say that you broke down in front of your house, or don’t even say your house, just give them the address, you can get it towed to your local mechanic and avoid any towing fees that the mechanic might otherwise charge you.
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