Published: March 2015
The last thing you want to do when you’re stranded on the roadside is panic about how expensive the breakdown might be. That’s where a common add-on to your auto insurance policy can help.
Towing and labor cost coverage is an optional coverage that you can add to your car insurance that typically protects you against some of the costs and hassles associated with common roadside breakdowns like dead batteries, flat tires or even an embarrassing lockout. (Some insurers may automatically fold this coverage into their policies, so be sure to ask.)
The exact services offered by this type of coverage will vary by company, but they may include the following:
- Tire changes
- Jump starts
- Lockout assistance
- Gas or oil delivery
The “labor cost” part of this of this coverage generally refers to labor charges you may incur at the scene of the breakdown to get your vehicle up and running. The coverage, however, doesn’t typically cover the cost of any needed parts (so it may cover the fee to change your tire, for instance, but not the cost of the actual new tire).
Talk to an agent to understand exactly what’s covered, so that you’re well informed.
Of course, there are some instances when another portion of your car insurance might kick in to cover the cost of a tow. For instance, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says that if you hit a deer (or another animal) and require a tow, you’ll find that the cost of towing is typically covered as part of the claim as long as you have comprehensive coverage (another optional coverage).
Towing and labor cost coverage often can help when you’re in a variety of situations that aren’t covered by other car insurance options, like when you’re stuck in the snow, or when sub-zero temps drain your battery, or when you see a puff a smoke and realize you’ve run out of oil (yes, it does happen).
So, what else should you know about towing and labor cost coverage? Your insurance agent can dive into greater detail, but here’s a few additional points to consider:
- Some insurers require comprehensive and/or collision coverage before they’ll add this coverage to your policy.
- As with most insurance coverages, you’ll find there are limits, whether it’s a cap on the cost of each incident or a limit on the number of claims you can file each year.
- Coverage typically only applies to the car your insurance company insures; it doesn’t follow you, for instance, when you get behind the wheel of a friend’s car.
Of course, nothing beats regular car maintenance and seasonal driving precautions to make sure you don’t end up in dire straits along the side of the road in the first place. But it sure can offer comfort to know that, if you’ve purchased this coverage, when you have to call for help, you may be reimbursed for any covered out-of-pocket expenses.