Does car insurance cover towing?


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If you find yourself in need of a tow-truck ride to the nearest repair shop, you’re likely wondering how much, if any, of that tow will be covered by your car insurance. The answer depends on the specifics of your policy.

Most car insurance policies won’t cover towing because of a mechanical issue, but roadside assistance, is a usually inexpensive coverage add-on offered by most major auto insurance carriers. If you don’t already have towing and labor coverage as part of your policy then your insurance policy probably won’t cover towing. (Make sure you are re-shopping for insurance. One in three Americans don’t.) 

What is roadside assistance?

Roadside assistance, sometimes called emergency road service coverage or towing and labor coverage, is a car insurance coverage option that covers you in case you’re stranded on the road, like if you get a flat tire, or run out of gas, or get into an accident that makes it impossible for you to keep driving.

How do I get roadside assistance?

If your auto policy only includes liability coverage, then it probably doesn’t include roadside assistance.

But if you have collision coverage, which covers damage from an accident regardless of who was at fault, and comprehensive coverage, which covers damage from weather events, vandalism and a host of other incidents, your policy may also include roadside assistance. 

If your policy doesn’t already include roadside assistance, or towing and labor, it’s usually easy to add on. You can purchase an endorsement — a rider to your base policy — for around $5 to $15 per car.

What does roadside assistance cover?

The specific services covered depend on your insurance carrier, but roadside assistance, or towing and labor coverage, typically covers:

  • Flat tire changes
  • Jump starts
  • Fuel or battery delivery to your car
  • A locksmith if your key is lost, stolen, or locked in your vehicle
  • Towing (often only up to a certain distance)

You may be able to request a tow truck directly through your carrier or you may have to pay out of pocket and then request reimbursement later. 

Will insurance cover towing costs if I don’t have roadside assistance?

If you don’t have roadside assistance or towing and labor coverage, your insurance likely won’t cover towing after a breakdown. But if you’re involved in an accident caused by another driver, and your car is too badly damaged to keep driving it, any towing you need should be covered by the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. Liability insurance exists to cover damage that a driver causes with their vehicle.

Is my car covered by insurance while it’s being towed?

Yes, your car is still covered by insurance while it’s being towed, even though you’re not in it. If the tow truck towing your car is in an accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay for damage to your vehicle, just like if you were in an accident while driving. And if you have collision coverage, you’ll likely be covered if your car is damaged while it’s being towed.

What about third-party roadside assistance?

If your insurance doesn’t offer roadside assistance, there are other ways to make sure you’re covered. Some car manufacturers offer roadside assistance with a new car, usually free up to a certain amount of time or number of miles. If you purchase a used car, you may be able to get roadside assistance for that vehicle through the dealership, often as part of a warranty.

And believe or not, your cell service provider may also offer roadside assistance. 

Regular maintenance and safe driving can help minimize your roadside emergencies, but, for those times when you find yourself stuck on the side of the highway, it helps to have some kind of coverage.

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This article originally appeared on Policygenius and was syndicated by

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