What Is Towing and Labor Coverage? Do I Need It?

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Car breakdown (Photo: @Chalabala via Twenty20)
It’s bad enough being stranded on the side of the road after your car breaks down. Maybe you were on your way to an appointment … or maybe you were just on your way get takeout that will now never reach your hands (not while it’s warm, at least).
Who needs the added stress of worrying about how much this breakdown will cost you?
Towing and labor coverage is a common add-on option to auto policies that will cover the costs associated with a breakdown (apart from replacing your ruined fries).
What can towing and labor coverage offer you? Is this something you really need? Here’s everything you need to know about this type of insurance.

What is towing and labor coverage?

Towing and labor coverage provides protection against some of the expenses and hassles associated with car breakdowns. This means it will typically cover the cost of towing your vehicle to a mechanic when it can’t be driven, as well as the labor charges that are incurred at the location of the breakdown.
Towing and labor coverage can be an add-on option, which means it’s added to standard car insurance for an extra cost. However, there are some insurance companies that automatically include this coverage in their full-coverage auto policies.
Towing and labor coverage may also be referred to as “roadside assistance.”

What does towing and labor coverage include?

The services included in towing and labor coverage vary from insurer to insurer, but they may include:
  • Towing
  • Tire changes
  • Delivery of oil and gas
  • Battery assistance
  • Lockout assistance

What does towing and labor coverage not include?

You should be aware that towing and labor coverage usually doesn’t cover the cost of parts. This means that it may pay the fee for jump-starting your battery, but it may not pay to replace your dead battery with a new one.

Towing and labor coverage limits

As with other forms of car insurance, towing and labor coverage comes with set limits. Your limit will depend on your individual policy.
To find out what your limit is, contact your insurance company. They may impose a limit on the number of claims you can file every 12 months, put a cap on your costs per breakdown, or have caveats around longer-distance tows.

Is towing and labor coverage mandatory?

Towing and labor coverage is not mandatory by law. It’s an optional form of car insurance, meaning it’s not part of state-mandated liability coverage.

Isn’t towing and labor already covered by my car insurance?

Some insurance companies include towing as part of a full-coverage policy, which includes liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. If you have collision and comprehensive insurance, then you may not need to buy towing coverage as an add-on.
If you only have the bare-minimum liability coverage on your policy, then your towing costs are unlikely to be covered. A possible exception is if you get into a car accident and you’re not at fault. If this happens, the other driver’s insurance company will pay for towing and damage to your vehicle.
If you’re not sure whether your car insurance already covers towing and labor, it’s best to contact your insurance company or check the details of your policy.

When would I use towing and labor coverage?

Towing and labor coverage can come to the rescue in all kinds of scenarios. Maybe you’ve got a dead battery or flat tire. Maybe you’ve gotten stuck in snow during a bad storm and need to be towed out. Maybe you’ve even been accidentally locked out of our car — it happens to the best of us!
You should also consider how and where you drive when you’re weighing the merits of towing and labor coverage. If you drive frequently and eat up a lot of miles, you’re more likely to experience a breakdown. In this case, having towing and labor coverage would make more sense for you than someone who rarely uses their car and works from home.
If you commonly drive outside of the city, you may also want to get towing and labor coverage. Towing charges are expensive, especially if you have a breakdown far from a large urban center. The longer the towing distance, the more you’ll be charged.
According to one estimate, a tow lasting five to seven miles will cost you $30 to $100. But if the tow distance jumps to 40 miles, you can expect to pay $100 to $250. And for a tow of 100 miles, you’ll be forced to pay $250 to $600.

How much does towing and labor coverage cost?

Towing and labor coverage generally won’t raise your insurance premium significantly. On average, you may pay an extra $10 to $15 each month.
The cost of towing and labor coverage varies by insurance company and by the make and model of the vehicle. You also have to consider the age of the car. If you drive an older vehicle, it’s more likely to break down and require assistance, so your insurer may charge you more to add towing and labor coverage to your policy.

What else should I know about towing and labor coverage?

One important thing to know about adding towing and labor coverage to your policy is that some insurance companies require you to have comprehensive and/or collision coverage first.
Another consideration is that towing and labor coverage usually only applies to your own car. So if you hop behind the wheel of a vehicle belonging to a friend or employer, you won’t be protected.
Lastly, if you’re a member of an auto club, then towing and labor coverage probably isn’t necessary since your membership typically grants you this service.

How to add towing and labor coverage to a car insurance policy

If you want to buy towing and labor coverage and you already have full-coverage car insurance, you should make sure that it isn’t automatically included in your policy. If it isn’t, then all you have to do is contact your insurance company and let them know that you want to get towing and labor coverage as an add-on.
If you want to get the best price for towing and labor coverage, and for car insurance in general, then the best course of action is to gather and compare car insurance quotes. You can do this yourself, but not everyone has the time or patience to contact multiple insurance companies and compare prices.
Enter Jerry.ai, a free app that’s hands-down the easiest way to get car insurance quotes. It compares prices from up to 45 insurance companies to find you the most affordable coverage.
If you want to switch policies, Jerry does all the paperwork and handles all the phone calls to set up your new insurance. No muss, no fuss.