USAA Roadside Assistance Review [2019]

Imagine yourself stranded on the side of the road. You have no gas, a flat tire, you either lost or locked the keys in the car, your battery died—hopefully not all at once—whatever the reason, if you have USAA roadside assistance, there shouldn’t be much to fret about. USAA has 24-hour online roadside assistance, and we’re here to give you both the good and the bad.

24-Hour Online Roadside Assistance 

Contrary to what some may say, USAA roadside assistance isn’t free. Yes, it comes with some policies, but it’s not an automatic addition to your car insurance policy with USAA. You can add the service if what you elected to pay for doesn’t come with it. But, either way, it isn’t free. In some cases, you might get discounts for the addition, but it’s just that, an add-on. In my case, it came as a part of my policy. You can choose not to have it, just the same as you can choose to keep it.

Either way, if you want roadside assistance, it’s easy to get, and you can take advantage of it 24-hours a day—from your driveway even. Now the bad news. Just because you can use roadside assistance any time of day or night does not mean it’s a speedy service. Yes, in some cases you can call and a USAA approved mechanic or the likes will come out to you in a reasonable time. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

USAA has an approved list of people they call for tows, jump starts, lockouts, etc. Sometimes those people are not close to you. Some might be 45 minutes away. Add on the fact that the individual first has to get notified, then has to get ready—especially if it’s at an unreasonable hour—you’re looking at a lengthy wait time (as if the military didn’t make you do that enough). Now, if you’re calling from your driveway, have another source of transportation, or you aren’t in a hurry, maybe this isn’t a big deal. But, it is something you might want to consider when looking for a roadside service. Sadly, there’s better and quicker roadside service out there you might want to consider before USAA if speed of service is your number one priority.

Roadside Assistance (If it’s NOT an Accident)

USAA provides roadside assistance for pretty much any problem that might leave you stranded. However, these are services rendered when you haven’t been in an accident. Also, there are a few caveats to their services, so keep reading.

Tow your Vehicle

If you’re stranded on the side of the road because your car died from an electrical failure or any reason that’s not an accident, USAA will send a representative to come out and tow your vehicle. However, they’ll only come if you’re stranded on or near a public roadway. This means, if you decided to go on a week-long camping trip in the middle of the forest in West Virginia and come back to find your car won’t start and need a tow, you’ll also come to find that USAA won’t be there to help you—unless of course you parked on a public road and hiked 20 miles to your camping destination (probably not the smartest idea).

Change your Flat Tire

It is true; USAA will send someone out to change your flat tire. The bad news, if you don’t have a spare available, it’s pretty much pointless to call USAA. If you want someone to change the tire, you better have a tire to replace it with. The tire must also be in good condition—because changing a flat with a flat doesn’t make much sense now, does it? Honestly, your best option is to learn how to change your own tire.

Unlock your Vehicle 

USAA will send out a locksmith to come open your car door for you. Be advised, if you are calling them because you lost a key, you’re going to have to pay more for it. This means, your coverage does not cover the cost of a new key. And if you have a fancy key for your fancy car, you’re going to pay some fancy prices that USAA won’t reimburse you for.

Deliver Gasoline

Yes, USAA will deliver gas for you. However, it does not cover the price of gasoline. They’ll pay for the delivery of the goods, but not the goods themselves. So, that means filling up with the most expensive gas on the market just because USAA is bringing it, doesn’t mean they’ll actually cover it—sorry, we didn’t make the policy.

Jump Start your Battery

USAA will send a representative out to jump start your vehicle. So, if you’re parked at the local mall, come out to find your battery is dead; someone will be there to help you.

Submit a Claim

Submitting a claim isn’t hard. You can go online to the claims center, call the claims center, or use the USAA Mobile App. The process is typically pretty smooth, from personal experience. But, in some cases, others have not had the same experience. So, if you need any of the services listed above as a result of an accident, filing a claim is your next step. Again, USAA typically does a decent job helping their clients out, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fall short sometimes—most of USAA’s complaints come from their car insurance and claims departments.

Request Reimbursement 

If for some reason, you did not use USAA to get a tow truck out to you or you were towed to an unapproved location, you can request a reimbursement. Simply keep a copy of your receipt for the tow and send it in for a USAA representative to look over and consider. Keep in mind, requesting a reimbursement does not guarntee you’ll get it.

Roadside Assistance Outside of the United States/Canada

If you breakdown on the side of the road in a foreign country, USAA might have services you can take advantage of. However, this requires you to go through their international contact directory. Unfortunately, we can’t promise the services elsewhere will be the same as what you’ll get here in the US and Canada, as we haven’t actually used roadside assistance outside of this great country.

USAA Roadside Assistance FAQs

People are asking a lot of questions about USAA roadside assistance. Below are the top questions people are asking Google.

What is USAA roadside assistance?

USAA roadside assistance is exactly what it sounds like. You need assistance because your car broke down, your battery died, you ran out of fuel, you got a flat, etc. USAA roadside assistance will be there to help you. However, keep in mind not all services are completely paid for as a part of your premium. You’ll be stuck with the cost of fuel, the cost of a new key that was lost or stolen, and you might not get the fastest assistance on the planet, because everything comes from a USAA preferred provider. 

What is covered under USAA roadside assistance?

  • Changing flat tires
  • Jump start your battery
  • Emergency gasoline delivery (The price of gas isn’t covered)
  • Lost keys and lockouts (The cost of the key isn’t covered)
  • Towing when stuck on or by a public roadway
  • Towing disabled vehicle to the nearest repair facility

How much does USAA roadside assistance cost?

The price of USAA roadside assistance will vary based on location, current policy, discounts from bundling, etc. But generally speaking, you’re looking at paying $12-$15/year for this service. Bundling is huge with USAA, and you’ll typically save more on roadside assistance if you’re already using other products from USAA. You’re most likely to pay more if you aren’t banking with USAA or don’t have other services provided through them. Ultimately, they reward members who bundle more than members who don’t. Something as simple as having personal property insurance could make a difference.

How do I know if I have USAA roadside assistance? 

Your best bet in knowing if you have USAA roadside assistance is to look at your policy. If your policy is confusing—let’s face it, they’re never written in plain English—then you can call the phone number on the back of your car insurance card and ask a representative. They will let you know if you have this service. If you don’t, they can help you add it.

How to add USAA roadside assistance

Adding USAA roadside assistance to your policy is easy. Simply call the number on the back of your car insurance policy card and speak with a representative. They can add roadside assistance and explain what the policy entails. They’ll also go over when you can and can’t use the assistance and how paying for the cost of the gas, an extra key, and filing a claim works, and what to do if you’re not stranded on a public road.

How to use USAA roadside assistance 

Using roadside assistance is about as easy as adding it to your policy. You can use the USAA Mobile App, go online, or call USAA directly and they will get a representative out to you.

I called USAA after being stranded on the interstate at 2 in the morning, and they were going to get a tow truck out to me “as soon as possible.” However, there is a downside. Just because USAA was willing to send a tow truck out to me, they were not willing to send the closest one available and I was going to have to wait quite some time for assistance. Luckily, the state trooper got me a tow that was much closer and took less time—which at 2 o’clock in the morning seemed like a necessity. Yes, I had to pay for the tow, but for me, at the time, it was worth it. If this is you, you can request a reimbursement from USAA—this, however, does not mean they will provide you said reimbursement, as it’s based on each individual’s particular situation.

USAA vs AAA

When it comes to roadside assistance, one of USAA’s competitors is AAA, so we’d be doing you a disservice not to mention this. AAA basically offers the same stuff. The biggest difference is what comes with a AAA membership vs a USAA membership, and the price. Yes, USAA has all of your banking needs and plenty of discounts if you bundle. However, AAA gives you discounts at places like hotels, on flights, rental cars, whereas USAA typically doesn’t.

AAA

If you’re not much of a traveler, going with AAA over USAA probably won’t make much of a difference, other than in your pocket. This is because you’re paying more for services you aren’t using.  And if you’re still in the military, you can often take advantage of government rates.

You should also keep in mind that when it comes to customer service, even with all the recent complaints, USAA does have AAA beat in that realm as well, but again, their travel discounts aren’t as significant. If you travel a lot and you no longer qualify for government rates or active duty discounts, AAA might be a great options for you. Yes, you’ll pay more, but AAA is known to have better response times along with all the travel discounts. And the response times alone might make it worth the cost.

AAA also offers extrication/winching services, which USAA does not and the option to upgrade to a free fuel delivery with free fuel included, yes you read that correctly, free fuel. But, you’ll pay more for this addition, so, it’s not really free at the end of the day. You’re probably paying more for fuel when you do the math, considering you’re probably not calling AAA once or twice a week to come fill up your car.

USAA Roadside Assistance Contact Information

Contact Number: 1 (800) 531-8555

International Contact Directory

AAA Roadside Assistance

Contact Number: 1 (800) 222-4357

3 Comments

  1. I liked that you explained that the time frame in which roadside assistance will get to you is highly dependent upon your location in relation to the company’s location. I would imagine that traveling to help you would take time. I would be sure to call roadside assistance as soon as I broke down on the side of the road so that I would be helped as quickly as possible.

  2. I originally had AAA and switched to USAA. What a big mistake that was. Daughters needed assistance on 3 different occassions and response times were 1.5hrs, 2.5hrs, and 2hrs. On one event the Highway patrol had to close lane on interstate for safety concerns. It took multiple calls to finally get someone to help. I have cancelled the cheap USAA roadside assistanc and have gone back to AAA. When USAA decides to partner with a reliable roadside assistance company I will look at renewing my service.

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