Consumer Reports: How to buy roadside assistance

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Roadside assistance is priceless when you need it. Nowadays, technology makes getting help just a push of a button away. (WLS)

Roadside assistance is priceless when you need it.

Nowadays, technology makes getting help just a push of a button away. But sorting through all the different types of coverage plans can be confusing. Consumer Reports is here to help.

Whether you've locked your keys in the car, gotten a flat tire, need to be towed or your battery died, most of the time you'll need roadside assistance to bail you out. So what kind should you get?

"First off, we tell consumers to do your research. For example, many insurance companies offer roadside assistance as part of a basic package or as an add on to your coverage," said Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports Auto Editor.

Some examples are Geico, Nationwide and Allstate, which offer additional protection by expanding your coverage.

Typically, basic plans can start around $60 the first year. They usually include no more than 5 miles of towing per request and up to four to five service requests per year.

For long distance travelers, opt for premium roadside service. It can cost hundreds of dollars annually, but may also include hundreds of towing miles, emergency fuel delivery and even medical assistance.

"It's important for you to narrow down your needs. If your spouse or even teenage children drive, look for a plan that covers multiple drivers," Linkov said.

AAA, National General Motor Club and Good Sam Roadside Assistance offer such plans.

Auto manufacturers often provide coverage for their specific cars during the warranty period. Vehicles equipped with telematics, such as Hyundai Blue Link and Toyota Safety Connect, may offer roadside assistance so you can avoid additional roadside memberships.

One thing's for sure. Calling for help has never been easier. Many plans have smartphone apps and use GPS coordinates from your phone to provide your location.

Did you know that credit card issuers such as Chase Bank offer roadside assistance? As does American Express, who will contact a third party service and get you help when you need it, 24-7. Consumer Reports says don't forget to check the fine print for these services.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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