Is AARP roadside assistance worth it?

How does AARP’s roadside assistance program compare to the competition? Let’s take a look.
Written by Natalie Todoroff
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
If you have car insurance with AARP—and by extension, The Hartford—you can add roadside assistance to your comprehensive insurance policy for about $8 per year. To use their RESCUE 1-800® service, call 800-322-7789. 
  • AARP/The Hartford’s roadside assistance coverage can help you if you need a tow, a jump, a tire change, and more.  
  • Adding roadside assistance to your policy is very affordable, but you will need to have comprehensive coverage in place to get it.
  • AARP’s RESCUE 1-800® program can connect you with a national network of over 40,000 towing services.
Here, we’ll go over what services AARP’s roadside assistance covers, how much it costs, and whether it measures up to the competition.

What does AARP roadside assistance cover?

Below is a rundown of the kinds of services offered by AARP’s roadside assistance program:
  • Towing services: With RESCUE 1-800®, you can get your vehicle towed up to 100 miles to a nearby repair shop. 
  • Battery jump starts: Accidentally leave your headlights on overnight? No sweat. Not only will AARP send someone out to give your battery a jump, but if that doesn’t work, they will replace your battery right there on the spot. The labor involved in replacing your battery is included with your roadside assistance coverage, but the cost of the battery itself is not. 
  • Flat tire changes: If you
    hit a nail
    and pop a tire, AARP will send someone out to fix it for you. If you need a replacement, they will even tow you to the closest repair shop. (If you don’t have your own spare, you’ll need to pay for the replacement.)
  • Fuel delivery: On a long road trip, never worry about running out of fuel again! When you find yourself running on fumes, you can request a truck with the fuel you need to get you back on the road.
  • Locksmith services: If you drop your keys or lock them in your car, AARP will dispatch a locksmith to get you back in your vehicle. 
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, roadside assistance is not available for every AARP customer. To add roadside assistance, also known in the insurance world as
towing and labor coverage
, you must have a
comprehensive insurance policy
. So, if you’re getting by with the bare
legal minimum
, you’ll be on your own if your tire pops or if you run out of gas.  
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How to use AARP’s roadside assistance program

Using AARP’s roadside assistance program is simple: just dial 800-322-7789. When you’re on the line, be prepared to provide your name, location, and your auto insurance policy number. 
You can even download and print out your own
RESCUE 1-800®
to keep in our wallet or dashboard, so you’ll always have your policy number on hand. 
RESCUE 1-800® is available in all 50 states, 24/7/365. But be aware that roadside assistance is solely for the occasional breakdown—you cannot use it in a car accident. 
If you are at fault for a car accident, you will need to shoulder the cost of the tow. If you have
collision coverage
or if the other driver is found at fault for the accident, recovery towing will be included in your policy or the at-fault driver’s
property damage liability
.  

How much does AARP roadside assistance cost?

AARP’s roadside assistance program is crazy cheap at just about $8 per year. To put that figure into perspective,
GEICO
’s roadside assistance coverage costs about $14 per year, while
Progressive
’s hovers between $30 and $100 each year. 
In general, most insurance providers charge between $15 and $150 per year for towing and labor coverage. 
But with AARP, exactly what you pay can exceed $8 per year. Through The Harford, AARP offers a range of roadside assistance policies with varying coverage limits. As one would guess, the higher your policy limit, the more you’ll pay for towing and labor coverage. (Any damage exceeding your policy limit is your financial responsibility.) 

AARP roadside assistance vs. AAA

AARP’s roadside assistance is comparable to
AAA
’s basic-tier plan at first glance, but if you take a look at the fine print, you’ll see several things that may sway your decision. 
Firstly, and most importantly, is availability. AAA’s roadside assistance can provide service to you in any vehicle you are either a driver or passenger in, while AARP’s RESCUE 1-800® program is exclusively for the vehicle(s) covered by your policy
AAA memberships also come with a whole host of different perks, like free one-day car rentals, free passport photos, and travel and hotel discounts with their
two higher tiers of coverage
: Plus and Premier. 
Cost is also an important distinction between the two. While an AARP roadside assistance policy will cost you as little as $8 per year, a one-year basic-tier membership with AAA costs $59.99. If you want to cash in on those other AAA perks, you’ll need to pay even more for a Plus or Premier membership. 
If those AAA hotel discounts are truly too much for you to resist and you opt for their roadside assistance instead of AARP’s, you can still get a reimbursement for a tow with your AARP policy. To do so, email
tow@thehartford.com
with your policy number, name and contact number, and vehicle make and model.  
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FAQ

In order to sign up for RESCUE 1-800®, you must have a car insurance policy with The Hartford, AARP’s insurance partner.
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