By Chuck Woodbury
EDITOR, RV TRAVEL
RV Travel reader Jane Cripps posted this comment on a recent article asking for help choosing a roadside assistance program. It got me thinking: With so many programs available, which is the best? Here’s her comment, edited for brevity:
“Can anyone suggest a good RV Roadside Assistance program? Do you know of any program that offers options such as sending out someone with compressed air so you can fill a tire that has a slow leak allowing you to drive a short distance (less than 30 miles) to a shop to have it fixed? Seems everyone wants to put on a spare or sell you a tire. I’m also fearful of programs that offer to tow you a limited distance, only to find that the small town mechanic cannot resolve the problem. Also, how do these services work if you are in an area that has no cell service?”
I started checking around, and I realized choosing a roadside assistance program is no longer a simple decision. For example, years ago a basic policy from AAA was all you needed. But then RVs got bigger and heavier, and AAA began charging for levels of service. Today, for example, with basic AAA service, the tow limit is five miles. Yes, five miles (the same stingy limit is common with many other plans). Now, how good is that when you’re in the middle of nowhere and the nearest RV repair shop is 200 miles away? If you want a tow all the way, you’ll pay an extra $5 a mile, or $1,000.
For RVers, a better but more expensive option is AAA Plus and AAA Plus RV, which provide a tow of up to 100 miles. For even better service, with AAA Premier and AAA Premier RV the tow range is 200 miles, with an additional towed vehicle included at no extra charge. AAA rates vary depending upon where you live. Learn more here.
Perhaps the most popular RV emergency road service program is through Good Sam, which offers unlimited distance towing. We found two plans, RV Standard ($69.95 for new members) and RV Platinum for $104.95 (new members only).
Roadside assistance programs offer other services besides towing — locksmith services, flat tire changing, fuel discounts, even winching services. So comparing plans is often apples and oranges: A little patience when shopping for what’s best for you is necessary.
Some RV manufacturers offer roadside assistance with the purchase of a new RV. Forest River offers a policy with Coach-Net.
Many auto insurance companies include emergency road service or offer it as an option. Check with your own insurer to see if you’re covered (make sure the policy covers RVs). Some credit cards also provide coverage (read this story to learn more). Finally, if your car or truck is still under warranty, coverage may be provided.
Please leave a comment about the service you use and like (or one you don’t use and don’t like). We’ll use your feedback to help us do a better job with a more comprehensive article on this subject.