USAA Roadside Assistance: Everything You Need to Know

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Questions:

Key Takeaways:

  • At a cost of less than $20 per year, USAA Roadside Assistance is a great value.
  • It covers a range of services. Tire changes, fuel delivery, lockout services, short-distance towing, battery jumpstarts, and on-site labor.
  • If you request aid through USAA’s dispatching line, covered services are free. You can also hire a service provider directly and submit your receipts to USAA for repayment.

There are some noises your car makes that’ll ruin your day. For instance, the empty clicking after turning the key — a telltale sign your battery is dead. Another is the last sputter of an engine that’s run out of fuel. Those are the sounds of a car that’s no longer functional. Consequently, it’s a signal for you to dial up your roadside assistance provider and ask for help.

usaa roadside assistance infographic
USAA’s illustration of primary services

What is roadside assistance?

Roadside assistance is a type of auto insurance that pays for services related to common car breakdowns, such as:

  • Changing of flat tires
  • Short-distance towing
  • Charging of a dead battery
  • Opening a vehicle when the keys are locked inside
  • Re-keying a car when the keys are lost
  • Delivering fuel when the car has run out of gas

Roadside assistance is not the same thing as mechanical breakdown insurance however, which functions more like a car warranty.

Each roadside assistance plan defines the exact services it provides, along with any limits on those services. For example, one plan might offer towing up to 100 miles, a $100 annual credit towards on-site labor, and a maximum of four roadside calls per year. Another plan might cap your towing mileage at 10 miles and limit you to three roadside calls annually. That variation is a good thing because it means you can keep costs low by purchasing a plan that provides only the services you’ll actually need.

You can get roadside assistance from your credit card provider a number of places. Your car dealer, car insurer, or specialists like American Automobile Association (AAA) and Urgent.ly. Usually, these compare as follows:

  • Roadside assistance offerings from credit cards vary widely. Some provide services at a fixed rate, while others give you limited coverage that’s included with your card’s annual fee.
  • Car dealers usually provide the cheapest and most limited coverages.
  • Auto insurers like Progressive, USAA, or Allstate is the best value for most drivers.
  • Specialists AAA and Urgent.ly charge more in return for broader coverage.

What does USAA Roadside Assistance include?

Specifically, USAA pays for tire changes, fuel delivery, lockout services, towing, battery jumpstarts, and on-site labor[1] [2]. The table below explains how each of these covered services works.

wdt_ID Incident Roadside Service you Need How it Works

Are there common breakdown services I don’t get with USAA Roadside Assistance?

The USAA Roadside Assistance plan has a good service package, but there are limitations. For example:

  • Winching is not included. You need winching if your car loses traction and gets stuck in mud, sand, or ice.
  • Generally, you can’t get services if at an off-road location. You can only receive covered services located on or near a public roadway.
  • Spare tire delivery. You can only get your flat changed if you already have a spare tire in the car. This exclusion is standard in most roadside assistance plans.
  • Replacement fuel. As noted above, you can have gas delivered for free, but the cost of the fuel is on you. This is a standard exclusion.
  • Replacement key. You can get locksmith services for free, but you have to pay for the replacement key. This is a standard exclusion, though some robust roadside assistance plans will give you a limited credit for replacement keys.
  • Services are provided only on covered vehicles. You are only covered by your roadside plan when you’re driving a car that’s listed on your policy. This is standard when you buy through your auto carrier.

How do I get USAA Roadside Assistance?

USAA’s plan is only available as an add-on to an existing USAA auto policy. If you already have USAA car insurance, you can contact an agent by phone at 210-531-8722 to add it to your policy. You can also manage your policy by logging into your account at USAA.com or by using their app.

Alternatively, you can move to USAA auto insurance from another insurer, if you qualify. However, USAA insurance is only available to active and retired members of the U.S. military and their immediate family members. You can start an auto insurance quote online or by calling an agent at 210-531-8722.

Is USAA Roadside Assistance competitive relative to other options?

USAA’s plan compares well to other roadside assistance offerings. Covered services are sufficient and the price is low. If you’re looking for a cheap option, you already have or qualify for USAA auto insurance, and you don’t do any off-roading, USAA’s roadside plan is a good choice.

The table below shows how USAA compares to other popular roadside assistance plans.

wdt_ID Service USAA Progressive Farmers State Farm Geico AAA Plus Urgent.ly

What does USAA charge for Roadside Assistance?

USAA Roadside Assistance costs less than $20 per year[10].

How can I request help under my USAA Roadside Assistance plan?

When you’re stranded in the U.S. and need to use your USAA roadside service, call 800-531-8555. That will connect you to Agero, USAA’s roadside partner. You can also log into your account online to request breakdown service. If you need help while you’re outside the USA instead, see the USAA international directory to find the right contact number for your location.

Four common breakdowns are flat tires, dead batteries, lockouts, and mechanical failure. Here’s how USAA handles each one.

When you have a flat tire

You feel your car pulling in one direction. Then the ride gets really bumpy. You realize you’re driving on a flat tire. Once pulled safely off the road, locate your USAA policy number and verify you have a functional spare inside the car.

  1. When you have a spare, call 800-531-8555 to request tire change service.
  2. When you don’t have a spare, call 800-531-8555 and request a tow to the nearest repair shop.

If your car battery is dead

You walk up to your car and tap your keyfob to unlock it. However, nothing happens. You unlock the door with the key and notice that the interior light doesn’t turn on. Finally, you try to start the car, which confirms the battery is dead. Call 800-531-8555 and fill in the dispatcher on your situation. A technician will then arrive and attempt to start the car. If the battery is so far gone that the car won’t start, the technician can tow your car to a nearby repair shop.

When you’re locked out of your vehicle

You can’t find your keys anywhere, and you have no way to get inside your car. Instead of cursing your memory, contact the USAA dispatcher by phone at 800-531-8555. They will then send a locksmith and pay for the labor. You will have to pay for the cost of the key, however.

When your car breaks down mysteriously

Your check engine light flickers on just before your car shuts off. You then veer gently to the side of the road. Locate your  policy number, and call 800-531-8555 to explain what’s happened. A local mechanic will subsequently be sent to your location to troubleshoot. If the mechanic can then get your car running within an hour and without parts, you can be on your way. Otherwise, you’ll need to have your car towed to the closest repair shop.

USAA Roadside Assistance FAQs

Can I get reimbursed if I pay for covered services myself?

Yes. You can submit your claim for reimbursement three ways:

  1. Log in to submit your claim online.
  2. Call a USAA agent at 210-531-8722.
  3. Use the USAA app.

How long does it take for the roadside technician to arrive?

Overall, timing varies based on where you are and how many service providers are in the vicinity. You’ll generally wait 45 minutes or more. For instance, some consumers have reported extended wait times for Agero (USAA’s roadside partner)[11]. If you are in a hurry, consider hiring a tow trunk company directly and then submitting your receipts to USAA for reimbursement.

Do I have to pay out-of-pocket for roadside services?

You should not have to pay for covered services if you schedule them through USAA’s dispatch line at 800-531-8555. If you hire a service provider directly, you’d pay for the services upfront and then submit your receipts to USAA for reimbursement.

Is USAA Roadside Assistance my best option?

Above all, USAA Roadside Assistance provides basic breakdown and towing services for a low price. It’s the best option when you:

  1. Have or are interested in getting USAA auto coverage.
  2. Don’t already have another form of roadside coverage through your credit card provider or auto dealer.
  3. Won’t expect to need winching services.
  4. Would rather not spend a lot on roadside assistance.

USAA roadside assistance: great value for military and their families

For less than $20 a year, USAA Roadside Assistance provides all the breakdown and towing services most drivers will need. If you’re covered by USAA’s breakdown plan, you don’t need to panic when you hear your car making strange noises. Simply call 800-531-8555 to speak with a USAA/Agero dispatcher, or contact a local tow truck service directly to get the help you needI

[1] Roadside Assistance FAQ. (2020, March 16). Retrieved July 13, 2020, from https://communities.usaa.com/t5/Money-Matters/Roadside-Assistance-FAQ/ba-p/177541

[2] Is USAA’s Roadside Assistance worth it? (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2020, from https://www.insurancepanda.com/faq/is-usaas-roadside-assistance-worth-it/

[3] Auto insurance product information document. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2020, from https://content.usaa.com/mcontent/static_assets/Media/auto_summary_EUSA_GRC.pdf?SearchRanking=18&SearchLinkPhrase=account%20summary%20page

[4] 24/7 roadside assistance. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2020, from https://www.progressive.com/claims/roadside-assistance/

[5] Get towing and roadside assistance: Farmers Insurance. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2020, from https://www.farmers.com/claims/roadside-assistance/

[6] The benefits of emergency road service coverage – State Farm┬«. (2020, May 26). Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://www.statefarm.com/insurance/auto/coverage-options/emergency-road-service-coverage

[7] GEICO roadside assistance review and cost. (2020, April 27). Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://www.cheapfullcoverageautoinsurance.com/geico-roadside-assistance-review-cost/

[8] Compare membership levels. (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://www.aaa.com/aaa/066/web/compare-membership-levels.html

[9] Terms and conditions: Urgent.ly membership. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2020, from https://membership.geturgently.com/terms-conditions

[10] Review of USAA Roadside Assistance. (2020, April 27). Retrieved July 13, 2020, from https://www.cheapfullcoverageautoinsurance.com/review-of-usaa-roadside-assistance/

[11] 25 Agero Roadside Assistance reviews and complaints @ Pissed Consumer. (2020, January 31). Retrieved July 13, 2020, from https://agero.pissedconsumer.com/agero-roadside-assistance-43627/RT-C.html

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