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AAA, AARP or other for roadside assistance
Old 01-22-2008, 08:04 AM   #1
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AAA, AARP or other for roadside assistance

I will be travelling more this year with recent retirement and started looking into AAA roadside assistance services. Then I noticed that AARP (sounds like it's through GE motors) was offering the same thing for about half AAA. My folks belonged to AAA and they actually seemed to use their services a few times and they responded pretty quickly and sort of made things worthwhile. Was wondering if anyone had experiences with the AARP policy or other similar services and have suggestions or recommendations? Thanks for the help!
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Old 01-22-2008, 08:20 AM   #2
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Who do you have your auto insurance with. USAA (mine) offers Roadside Assist and Auto Rental (if you cannot use yours after accident) for a very small premium. I used the USAA Service once several years ago (locked my keys in a former car while washing the car). Locksmith arrived before I had finished detailing the car (about 45 minutes). Also used On Star with another car when I did the same thing but that one was a 2 minute phone call and they unlocked the car on-line.
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Old 01-22-2008, 08:25 AM   #3
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I will be travelling more this year with recent retirement and started looking into AAA roadside assistance services. Then I noticed that AARP (sounds like it's through GE motors) was offering the same thing for about half AAA. My folks belonged to AAA and they actually seemed to use their services a few times and they responded pretty quickly and sort of made things worthwhile. Was wondering if anyone had experiences with the AARP policy or other similar services and have suggestions or recommendations? Thanks for the help!
This is old information, but for what it's worth: I was a police officer on the road until 1991. Many of the people who had breakdowns wanted AAA to respond with a tow truck, which they eventually did. What AAA does NOT tell people is that they contract with towing companies for the lowest possible price. Well, of course.

The result, however, is that the tow operator would put off the AAA job for more immediate, and higher compensated, tow jobs. That left AAA customers waiting, often for two hours or more. That's not what you want to happen on some dark road at 2:00 AM in the rain or snow.

It got so bad that if the disabled vehicle was blocking traffic on a major road we had a directive to disregard the driver's request for AAA towing and we'd call the nearest available tow truck to clear traffic jams.

For that reason I will never be a member of AAA. From my perspective it's just another form of dishonest advertising.
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Old 01-22-2008, 08:31 AM   #4
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My recommendation is to self insure. To me, towing insurance is another example of insuring against an expense that one can easily afford should it be necessary.
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Old 01-22-2008, 08:41 AM   #5
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I subscribe to a service similar to AAA, but I don't view it as "insurance" against the financial cost of the car towing. To me, it is a service that whatever happens and whereever I am, I have one number to call and some appropriate roadside assistance will be dispatched. I don't have to worry about where I am and what (if anything) is open and nearby. I don't use it very often and the "limits" of the service are rather low, so I may end up paying part of a tow if I need one, so as insurance it is rather poor. But as a service that will dispatch anytime/anywhere I've been very happy and glad I have it.
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Old 01-22-2008, 08:45 AM   #6
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I opted for roadside assistance with my auto insurer, State Farm. At $7.20/yr, it's cheap. But, of course, the situation you're insuring against is inexpensive so the insurance shouldn't cost much. I agree that it is a likely situation to be self-insured.

The advantage to AAA isn't so much one of insurancing against towing costs, it's that you have that 800 number to call when you're broken down in a strange town late at night and don't know who else to call. With State Farm, as far as I know, I'm on my own to find help and submit a claim to them later.
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Old 01-22-2008, 08:47 AM   #7
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My recommendation is to self insure. To me, towing insurance is another example of insuring against an expense that one can easily afford should it be necessary.
Yeah, I kind of agree. Suppose you're in a strange state and on unfamiliar roads away from towns, and then you blow a radiator hose or loose a water pump. So who do you call? One thing that seemed attractive these insurances is that you don't have to hassle with that, and they really aren't super expensive. I'd like to feel sort of good about not having this extra insurance, but trying to sort things through.
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Old 01-22-2008, 08:47 AM   #8
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After years of doing *everything* ourselves, we finally got "old" enough to start paying others to do things. AAA was one of those things. We live in an area with lots of construction going on and there are many oppurtunities for flats. When we get a flat now, we just call AAA and they change the tire for us in the driveway. The operator told me once that they like the driveway calls because there is no danger from passing traffic. Once, they took 36 hours to get here. I didn't tip him that time. They also towed a vehicle that wouldn't start to the dealership a few times. It's probably not cost-effective for us but we feel comfortable with the convienience.

Our new Ford cars came with 3 years of the same thing so we have a backup plan.

Mike D.
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Old 01-22-2008, 08:58 AM   #9
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Personally, I have had nothing but good service from AAA. In fact, a couple years ago I had to be in Chicago Court and--of all times--locked my keys inside the car. I called panicked to AAA, and a tow truck was there within 10-15 minutes. They put me on a rush order.
But I do get what Walt 34 is saying and would like to know:

Walt34: Is there a better solution than AAA out there??
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Old 01-22-2008, 09:10 AM   #10
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I've got AAA, primarily because we travel sometimes in our 1976 Airstream motorhome and it would be outrageous to get it towed (or even a tire changed). We've used the AAA several times for the cars, and appreciated that we had the "Plus" coverage when we had to get a car towed 65 miles home after a breakdown. I hate paying for stuff like that, but I finally conceded that it actually paid for itself the past few years.

Since I need RV and car coverage, AAA worked best for me, but if you don't have an RV, then some of the other options might be better. Likewise, only covering an RV I might look at some of the RV club programs.
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Old 01-22-2008, 09:36 AM   #11
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Yeah, I kind of agree. Suppose you're in a strange state and on unfamiliar roads away from towns, and then you blow a radiator hose or loose a water pump. So who do you call? One thing that seemed attractive these insurances is that you don't have to hassle with that, and they really aren't super expensive. I'd like to feel sort of good about not having this extra insurance, but trying to sort things through.
As Walt pointed out, calling AAA guarantees a slow response. I think a better plan would be to call the local police and ask them for the number of a trusted towing company. IMHO, this insurance is sold on fear.
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Old 01-22-2008, 09:50 AM   #12
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Since I need RV and car coverage, AAA worked best for me, but if you don't have an RV, then some of the other options might be better. Likewise, only covering an RV I might look at some of the RV club programs.
If you have one of the RV towing programs, I believe it covers all your vehicles in addition to the RV. At least mine does.
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Old 01-22-2008, 11:34 AM   #13
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Another thought, if you have a near new car, the 3/36 warranties usually include roadside assistance coverage, and they provide "one" toll-free number to call. Some of the auto manufacturers may even offer the roadside assistance coverage for 5/50 or longer (maybe Hyundai?)

As to AAA, my daughter signed up for it, and has been extra pleased with it. Two flat tires, and twice low/dead battery, all with one or two years. She feels she more than gets her monies worth. She also likes the trip planning assistance. She said the tow trucks responded right away all four times. The tow companies and repair shops seem to like being AAA vendors because it provides them a steady flow of "no advertising cost" business.

Plus AAA does get you the 10 or 15% discount on motels, repair bills, etc.
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Old 01-22-2008, 11:51 AM   #14
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Just dont count on them. While driving cross country in '92, my fuel pump went out in mid Nebraska. Called AAA. They apologized for having nobody in my area to provide service and wished me luck.

Good news is I was able to fix it with bubble gum and drive another 250 miles until I found a service station that was able to fix it with a defective part that failed a couple of days later when I was another 1000 mile further west. Wait, that isnt very good news...
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Old 01-22-2008, 01:04 PM   #15
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The advantage to AAA isn't so much one of insurancing against towing costs, it's that you have that 800 number to call when you're broken down in a strange town late at night and don't know who else to call.
Google to the rescue. Try this, it really works well:

dial 800-GOOG-411 on your cell phone (add it to your contacts so you have when you need it). A voice prompt will ask for the name of the town and state you are in, or zip code. Yes, it will understand you. The voice recognition is fantastic.

Then say 'tow truck' (or any other search term, pizza, etc) and it will start listing off tow truck service in the area. Choose one and it dials the number for you.

hhttp://www.google.com/goog411/ttp://www.google.com/goog411/

Those Google people are geniuses.

-ERD50
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Old 01-22-2008, 01:08 PM   #16
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Google to the rescue. ............those Google people are geniuses.

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Outstanding! Another racket ruined by technology.
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Old 01-22-2008, 02:04 PM   #17
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Once, they took 36 hours to get here. I didn't tip him that time.
I have never considered tipping those guys. I guess that it is a nice courtesy, but I think of it as a service that I have prepaid for and I am just using my benefit.
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Old 01-22-2008, 02:27 PM   #18
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While driving cross country in '92, my fuel pump went out in mid Nebraska. Called AAA. They apologized for having nobody in my area
Was it only AAA who had no one in the area---or was it simply that in mid-Nebraska there was *no one* in the area, whether AAA affiliated or not? Besides 1992 is a long time ago.
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Old 01-22-2008, 05:50 PM   #19
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Was it only AAA who had no one in the area---or was it simply that in mid-Nebraska there was *no one* in the area, whether AAA affiliated or not? Besides 1992 is a long time ago.
Yea, I think Nebraska was still a Territory then.
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Old 01-22-2008, 05:57 PM   #20
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I'm pretty sure not much has changed in central nebraska since 1992.

This was in North Platte. Plenty of people and stuff going on around there. Heck that night there was a Garth Brooks concert, the Polish American festival was in full swing, and the state roller skating finals (or something like that). Had a hard time finding a hotel room.

And I learned a valuable piece of information, that nebraska has one of the highest levels of immigrant Poles in north america. Who knew?
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