Consumers can cut car-care costs

Roadside assistance programs - duplicate services can be costly

2/8/2006

 

​​​SEATTLE – Motorists often overpay for towing coverage offered by insurance companies, car manufacturers and roadside-service companies, says PEMCO Insurance.

"Motorists should make sure help is available if their car ever breaks down," said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg. "But paying for duplicate towing coverage doesn't make sense. It's a waste of money."

When consumers shop for roadside assistance coverage they can look to their auto insurer, the warranty offered by car manufacturers, or roadside-service companies. But instead of choosing one or the other, consumers often buy coverage from more than one provider without even realizing it.

For example, you can add towing coverage to your insurance policy for a minimal fee. PEMCO offers towing insurance for as little as six dollars per year. Because the cost is so low, many policyholders buy it when they first insure their cars and rarely think about it again.

Some people also have towing coverage provided by their car manufacturer's warranty. Virtually every car manufacturer offers a roadside assistance warranty ranging anywhere from four to eight years, contingent upon routine maintenance checks. Most warranties are free and have a zero deductible.

Other people choose additional coverage through roadside-service companies. Costs run anywhere from $54 to $89 per year, depending on coverage. Unlike other programs, coverage is assigned to the individual rather than the vehicle. Also, a roadside-service company such as AAA offers much more than just towing for its annual fee.

"If you want all the products and services offered by a roadside-service company, that's great," said Osterberg. "But if all you really want is towing coverage, you can buy that for much less. Regardless of what consumers choose, they should check their insurance policies first to see if they already have coverage."

There are even some auto-parts manufacturers that offer free roadside-service coverage as incentive to buy their products.

Compare and save

 

Service Typical
Car Manufacturers

(free under warranty with routine maintenance checks)
Typical Auto Insurance Providers (PEMCO is $6-$10 per year) Typical
Roadside Assistance Services

($54-$89 per year)
Towing
Battery service
Flat tire
Fuel
Lock-outs
Winching
Minor roadside repairs
Travel expense reimbursement    
Concierge service    

Coverage amounts and deductibles vary depending on the plan.

Consumers can save money by checking their policies and being aware of what is offered and available to them. Over time these expenses add up and can be costly.

"What's key is, consumers should enjoy peace of mind with roadside-emergency coverage," said Osterberg. "That's the responsible thing to do. Just don't buy duplicate coverages."

About PEMCO Insurance
PEMCO Insurance, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, life, and umbrella insurance to Washington state residents. PEMCO Insurance is sold by community agents throughout the state and through PEMCO offices. For more information, visit www.pemco.com.