If you car dies on the side of the road, what is the first thing you do? Most people are going to call a tow truck to get the car to a service station. Depending on who you call and whether you have towing coverage, these towing fees could be virtually free or end up costing hundreds of dollars. Ideally, the best time to come up with a towing plan is before you need to use the service.
Before you figure out what sort of towing coverage you need for your car, you will have to assess your likely needs. If you have a new car and live in a highly-populated area, then you probably aren’t going to need towing services often. If you do need to call a tow truck, there is probably a company located nearby and the charges won’t be too high to get you to a service station. On the other hand, if you are driving a clunker and live in a rural area, then you will probably break down sometime and it could cost a small fortune to get you to a service station. There is usually a flat fee just for the tow truck arriving and then about $2-$6 per mile after that. Keep in mind that the costs are going to vary greatly depending on who you call. If you call a private company that you have investigated beforehand, then you can get good rates. If you have an emergency dispatcher call a tow truck for you, then you may get the company with the astronomical rates.
Many people opt for auto clubs to take care of their roadside assistance needs, such as towing. The most popular is AAA and they have basic membership starting at about $55 per year. This will get you a free tow of 5 miles yearly. For the premium membership of about $125 per year, you can get towed up to 200 miles yearly. There are other auto clubs besides AAA which may be better suited to your needs.
Now, most car insurance companies offer riders for towing plans. These towing riders on your car insurance policy vary greatly, both in price and in coverage. Many of the riders are for complete roadside assistance, not just towing. Depending on the level of coverage you need for roadside assistance, expect to pay $24-$100 per year extra on your car insurance premiums.
Always make sure you know exactly what is covered and under what circumstances before you add roadside assistance to your car insurance policy. Also, find out whether using the roadside assistance is going to make your car insurance premiums rise – it could be considered a claim! You should also ask how the payments will work. Will you have to pay up front for towing and get the money back from the car insurance company or will the costs be forwarded to the provider.