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Emergency Road Service

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 06/11/2013

What emergency road service is, how it works, should you just use your auto club’s service, and questions to ask before signing up.

man with phone and broken car

Looks like he needs some emergency road serice.

Once upon the time emergency road service, aka ‘emergency roadside service’ was the exclusive domain of auto clubs such as the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Today these services are increasingly offered by auto insurance companies as well. To further blur the lines, AAA and other auto clubs have entered the auto insurance field in many states.

How Emergency Road Service Works

Auto insurance traditionally considers regular automobile maintenance to be an exclusion (a situation that is specifically not covered by the policy). While this remains the case with nearly every auto policy, many companies now offer emergency roadside assistance.

Emergency roadside assistance is covered in much the same way as towing. Depending on the company and whoever is actually providing the service, the claim is either paid directly to the roadside assistance service, or more typically to the policyholder as a reimbursement once the claim is made.

Emergency roadside assistance is paid on a per occurrence basis and capped at a modest amount, typically $100, depending on the company. This limit is generally not available in other amounts. You either have emergency roadside assistance or you don’t. Claims usually require little more than a copy of the receipt provided to the insurance company.

Auto Club or Insurance Coverage?

Like other secondary auto insurance coverages, emergency roadside assistance is often quite inexpensive. It’s also very useful. However, it’s by no means necessary in all instances.

Obviously, if you’re already a member of an auto club that provides emergency roadside assistance, there’s no need to have it on your insurance too. Depending on your area, auto clubs may offer a better emergency roadside assistance program anyway. If you’re looking at the coverage, checkout the auto club first.

What Exactly does Emergency Road Service Cover?

Also check to see exactly what is covered by your insurance company’s emergency roadside assistance. These are all good questions to ask of both the insurance company and the auto club:

  • Will they provide gas if you run out?
  • Will they tow your car if necessary, or is the towing coverage separate?
  • What if you break down in a rural area, or out of state?

It stands to reason that older cars are more likely to break down on the road than newer cars. If you have a newer car, you may want to take that into consideration. Also, if you’re handy with vehicles on your own, you may be your own best emergency roadside assistance.

Consider all these factors before signing up for emergency roadside assistance with your insurance company.

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Todd Clay

Todd Clay is a former insurance agent with the largest insurance company in the United States. He earned his Bachelor’s from the University of Texas. He's worked in several fields but has specialized in insurance, financial-related information, and technology. He blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook. Connect with Tood on Google+

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  • grover


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