Should I Get Roadside Assistance Coverage Insurance? Hell Yeah!

1989 BMW 335i CoupeEvery winter, I make the 180 mile trek from San Francisco to Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe to enjoy the epic snow. There is truly nothing more magical than spending hours riding on powder and having a beer or two in the outdoor hot tub when you’re finished! Oh, the stories I could tell you about what happens in the hot tub.

On the other hand, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting a flat tire at night in the mountains while it’s snowing. I know how to change a tire, but I sure as hell don’t plan to risk my life changing a tire in darkness on a one lane road in the mountains while cars zoom by. I might get a nice settlement if I do get into an accident. But, I also might lose a leg in the process!

Every month, I spend 98 cents to get roadside assistance insurance for Moose. Add up the cost over 84 months of ownership, and we’re talking $83 worth of premiums. And you know what? My roadside assistance insurance is worth every penny! I already mentioned how my alternator died just as I was pulling into my garage thank goodness. A tow truck came when I got back from vacation to follow me to my mechanic thanks to roadside assistance. What I haven’t told you about are my other more traumatic incidences!


Before Moose, there was Sherman, a beautiful two-door, 1989 BMW 635i coupe. He was champaign in color, with immaculate 18″ wheels and tinted windows. Every time I drove Sherman, I felt like a mafia don warped back in time. I bought him for a mere $2,400 and ended up investing $1,000 to get everything right, or so I thought!

I was driving back from Berkeley in the dumping rain when my brakes suddenly STOPPED WORKING! My heart panicked as I could see traffic start to bunch up about a quarter mile ahead so I immediately released the gas pedal.

I started weaving left to right to buy more travel time so Sherman would eventually come to a halt. I was only about ~60 feet away before I going to crash into a shiny new Mercedes when I saw a safety turnoff. Luckily, I managed to guide Sherman past the cars whizzing by to my right to come to a complete stop in the gravel pit.

My hands were shaking as I put both of them together and thanked my lucky stars. After staring dumbfoundly at the dashboard, which by now let up like a Christmas tree, I called roadside assistance for help. The rain was still pouring down as I waited for 40 minutes until a flatbed tow truck came. He hoisted Sherman up and I rode in the front. “Having a bad day?“, the driver asked as we headed towards my mechanic.


If it wasn’t for roadside assistance, I’d probably just sit there like a vegetable for a while. Maybe the Bridge Authority would have come out to finally help. I guess my marbles would have returned to eventually call for a tow truck before the age of smartphones. The tow would have cost me at least $300 + mileage to get Sherman back to the City. With roadside assistance, I didn’t have to pay a penny.

People who don’t have roadside assistance don’t understand how difficult the situation can be until they are in a bind. There is something priceless by just dialing your insurance company’s roadside assistance hotline to get someone over within an hour. Then there is the obvious monetary savings as well. I’ve needed roadside assistance six times in the past 11 years. The 98 cents a month I pay is nothing!

Here are some conditions which should propel you to get roadside assistance:

* If you drive to work

* If you drive long distances to work

* If you drive in inclement weather

* If you drive an old car

* Your car has a history of maintenance problems

* You bought a second hand car and don’t know its full history

* If you have no clue on how to fix or maintain your car

* If you enjoy peace of mind

With winter coming, I encourage everybody to call their insurance company to add on roadside assistance. At least inquire about the costs and benefits. If the $5-10 a month is too much, take it off once better weather returns!


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Updated for 2016 and beyond

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. says

    Gotta admit. I had a mini “come to Jesus” moment after dodging cars like Frogger. After I got Sherman fixed up, I sold him several months later and went the complete other direction by getting a Honda Civic. That only lasted for a year (during my car trading days), but boy did it feel good to have something so reliable!

  2. says

    Its funny I was just thinking about this the other day. I currently do not have roadside assistance for our 11 year Subaru but I think this summer (when we do the most miles) the time has come to get roadside assistance. So far I have not needed roadside assistance yet, so it has been a wise choice from a savings point of view. However, as the car approaches 180k miles I am starting to hear a few things that make me think that roadside assistance might be the way to go. Thanks for the reminder!

      • says

        For basic assistance in Canada, it is $67/year for towing 10kms (6miles) which is approx $6/month. The next step up includes towing 200 klms for $107/year or about $9/month. Seems like $9/month may be the better option.

        • Cassandra hayes says

          Motor Club of America offer A whole lot other than Roadside Assistance. Being a member you pay $ 19.95 a month but its the benefit that come with it.What do your roadside Assistance offer you?
          So here’s what you get with your membership: at MCA
          You have road side service 24 hours a day – if you have children you can put them on the plan as well. If you don’t want to be broken down on the side of the road, you certainly don’t want your children broken down there either. So you want to have this for them also.
          You’ve also got your emergency road side assistance for your boat trailer, your RV, your motorcycle, your duley, and your livestock trailer.
          You also have $500 travel interruption assistance if you’re involved in an accident more than 50 miles from home or car rental for an accident closer to home.
          You’ve got your trip planning.
          You have $25,000 bond.
          You’ve got $2000 to defend you.
          You’ve got $500 stolen vehicle reward.
          You have $1000 credit card protection.
          You have $500 in reward if anything happens to your farm equipment. You’ve got prescription drug, vision and dental discounts.
          You have $500 for emergency room benefits.
          Over $54,000 in covered hospital benefits.
          $10,000 accidental death benefit.
          And you have an additional $50,000 death benefit tacked on to that.
          Our service is in the Canada and U.S. and may more… Better than AAA..

  3. says

    I have been a long (35 years) time auto club (AAA) member. My mom bought the first year and the rest is history. Besides roadside assistance, there are all sort sof discounts. I don’t know if it is worth it, but it is peace of mind.

    • says

      The older we get, the more assets we have, the more people depend on us, the less time we want to waste, hence roadside assistance is a slamdunk.

      When you are in a bind, you’re willing to pay anything to get out of it. $5-10 bucks a month is nothing.

  4. says

    The auto club (AAA) is about the same cost for two and you get a lot of discounts too. Aside from assets, I never want to be stranded. I especially do not want my wife stranded!

  5. Ivy says

    I just cancelled our AAA, literally 5 days ago. We’ve had it for 10 years, but I finally paid attention to the fact that (1) we are also paying $6 a year for roadside assistance from our insurance company; (2) we have free $50 worth of roadside assistance from Amex; (3) our cars are reliable, we don’t drive much outside of commuting area and we haven’t needed assistance for years; (4) as a couple with flexible schedules we can rely on each other’s help in a lot of situations. AAA charged us $90 a year and we hadn’t used any of it for ages. So we’ll trust our luck and test the other 2 options we have if the need comes. It’s possible they will be less convenient than AAA but I think we won’t regret it.

    • says

      That’s cool your AMEX provides a free $50 in roadside assistance.

      The issue is, one tow costs $300++ dollars. So basically you need to go for the next 3-4 years with no issues to “break even”.

      At $90 a year if that was me, that’s more than worth it for peace of mind.

      Best of luck!


  6. says

    Roadside assistance is so great when you have an older car. It’s usually not worth it if you have a newer car as they are unlikely to break down, but then again – locking keys in the car, getting a flat tire – that can happen to anyone. It’s a great way to make money for the company, too, because usually people don’t have to use all of the benefits.

  7. says

    I get my road side insurance from my car insurance company, Liberty Mutual, at an excellent deal (pretty much a no brainer). I’ve never been left stranded where I have really needed it, but have used it a couple times over the last 5 years after locking my keys in the car and needing a tire changed here and there. Luckily when I blew my transmission 3 years back I was on my street and didn’t need a tow truck to get me home :)

  8. Cassandra hayes says

    Motor Club of America is $19,95 a month. But it not the price that counts its the benefit that’s come with it. They even offer discounts on vision, dental and prescription. I know some one say I really don’t use it. But why wait for the what if; why not now?

  9. says

    Update: Just called my auto insurance company today (1/24/2013) and I am paying about $5.45 cents every six months, not every month. In other words, I’m paying 98 cents a month! What a no brainer.

    Get roadside assistance folks!


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