Roadside Assistance vs. AAA

Is it better to add roadside assistance through your current provider or buy an AAA membership?

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Roadside assistance vs. AAA: which is better?

The fear of being stranded on the road can be daunting, but there are plenty of roadside assistance options out there. You can add roadside assistance to your personal auto policy — your GEICO or Progressive policy, for instance — or you can buy a secondary policy through a company like AAA. If you're already shopping for new car insurance, it can be included in your quote.

Each option comes with costs and benefits, including price and coverage differences. 

 

What is AAA and what insurance coverage does it provide?

Although AAA is a car insurance company, it is known for its roadside assistance program. Offering more coverage than a typical insurer-provided roadside assistance program, AAA’s roadside assistance package comes in tiers. See below what's included in AAA’s Classic, Plus, and Premier membership levels.

 

EMERGENCY ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE COMPARISON: AAA
Coverage Detail Classic Membership Plus Membership Premier Membership
Jump Start Included Included Included
Towing Up to 7 miles, 4 times a year. Up to 100 miles One per household up to 200 miles, remaining tows up to 100 miles
Emergency Fuel Services Free delivery, pay for fuel Free delivery and fuel Free delivery and fuel
Vehicle lockout Coverage up to $60 Coverage up to $100 Coverage up to $150
Flat Tire Service Included Included Included
Extrication/Winching Service One service per year Two services Two services
Rental Car Benefits Discounted Discounted plus one car-class upgrade One-day complimentary midsize rental car
Rental Car Benefits Discounted Discounted plus one car-class upgrade One-day complimentary midsize rental car
 

AAA's roadside assistance package is more comprehensive than similar programs offered by other car insurance providers. Each of these is consistent with a tier of the membership plan, as described above.

 

AAA ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
Coverage Detail Classic Membership Plus Membership Premier Membership
Vehicle Registration Renewal Help Included Included Included
Discounts (shopping, dining, hotels, and entertainment) Included Included Included
Identity Theft Protection Daily monitoring, email alerts, fraud resolution support, loss card protection Daily monitoring, email alerts, fraud resolution support, loss card protection Daily monitoring, email alerts, fraud resolution support, loss card protection, $10,000 in identity theft insurance
Discount to Carfax Vehicle Report 20% off CARFAX 20% off CARFAX One free year, 40% for additional reports
Vehicle inspection service Free 40pt, or discount 86pt Free 40pt, or discount 86pt $45 mail-in rebate for 86pt
Extrication/Winching Service One service per year Two services Two services
Rental Car Benefits Discounted Discounted plus one car-class upgrade One-day complimentary midsize rental car
 

The primary difference between AAA and your auto insurer is that AAA is a full-service auto owners' organization, rather than a company focused on insuring your vehicle.

 

 

How much does AAA cost?

Because AAA is built on a tiered membership system, the cost changes by tier. The price depends on the number of people and vehicles you have on the plan. The rates listed below are reflective of a one-driver, one-vehicle household. You can add drivers to your AAA membership with a slight increase in membership fees.
 
AAA MEMBERSHIP TIER COSTS
Coverage Detail Classic Membership Plus Membership Premier Membership
Monthly Fee $5 $7.75 $9.75
6-Month Fee $30 $47 $59
Annual Fee $60 $279 $351

 


 

Comparing insurance companies' roadside assistance programs

The roadside assistance programs of top insurance companies share some things in common with AAA. The only companies that provide small labor or mechanical help and winching services (if your vehicle is stuck in the mud and needs to be extracted) are Progressive and AARP.
 
POPULAR ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
Insurance Provider GEICO State Farm USAA Progressive AARP
Emergency Jumpstart Services Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Towing Yes — to nearest service station Yes Yes 15-mile radius Yes
Emergency Fuel Services No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vehicle Lockout Up to $100 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Flat Tire Service Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Extrication/Winching Service No No No Yes Yes
Labor/Small Mechanical Repair No No No Up to One Hour Yes
 

One major difference between AAA and insurer-provided roadside assistance is the level of detail they provide regarding their obligations. AAA has a more comprehensive and clearly outlined program. AAA outlines within its policy documentation the services it will and will not cover — for example, for how many miles the service will tow your vehicle. Personal auto insurance policies usually describe their towing limitations as “to the nearest towing facility.” Depending on your location, this could be 4 blocks, 7 miles, or 100 miles.

Insurance-provided roadside assistance programs are usually cheaper than AAA. Roadside assistance is factored into your monthly bill just as your comprehensive or collision coverage would be. Below are average costs to expect from these services.

 

Insurance Provider Roadside Assistance Cost
GEICO $14 per car, per year
State Farm $5-$7 per policy period
USAA Unlisted
Progressive $10-$18 per policy period
AARP $58-$74 per year
 

Should you use AAA or your car insurance for roadside help?

That depends on what level of service you require. AAA's offerings go beyond roadside assistance, and it is renowned for its quality of service. If you travel to remote locations, the piece of mind provided by AAA could be worth the extra investment.

If you live in a metro area and don’t drive much, but still want roadside support, your current provider’s roadside service might be a suitable solution.

If you’re looking for car insurance quotes with roadside assistance costs included, enter your ZIP code below to compare rates.

 

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Ava Lynch photo
Ava LynchSenior Analyst

Ava worked in the insurance industry as an agent for four-plus years.

Ava currently provides insights and data analysis as one of The Zebra's property and casualty insurance experts. Her work has been featured in publications such as U.S. News & World Report, GasBuddy, Car and Driver, and Yahoo! Finance.

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