What is Towing and Labor Coverage?

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What is towing and labor coverage: woman talking on the phone while sitting on the pavement

Getting stranded in unfamiliar territory has long been a fear of daily drivers and road trippers alike. According to JD Power, the national average tow cost is $109, or between $2.50 and $7 per mile. With a 35-mile tow costing as high as $245 without coverage, you may want to consider adding towing and labor coverage to your insurance policy.

What is towing and labor coverage? What does it include, and what does it leave out? Is it worth it? This guide will cover all of your questions so you can decide on the best addition to your policy.

If you don’t have towing and labor coverage on your auto insurance policy, now may be an excellent time to compare multiple auto insurance providers. To get started, enter your ZIP code below:

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What is Towing and Labor Coverage?

What is towing and labor coverage: roadside assistance worker changing tires

Also referred to as emergency roadside or emergency road service coverage, towing and labor coverage provides reimbursement for all towing-related expenses after your vehicle is severely damaged or totaled after an accident. Damages to vehicles could include but are not limited to running out of gas, flat tires, or lock malfunctions.

In addition, this coverage takes care of the cost of towing your damaged car to the nearest repair facility, including labor costs such as tire changing, oil delivery, and lockout services.

Unlike liability coverage, an auto insurance policy doesn’t require towing and labor. Instead, it’s an add-on that can be purchased with your existing policy or through a standalone policy.

How Does Towing and Labor Coverage Work?

Towing and labor coverage is fairly straightforward. Imagine you’re taking a coast-to-coast road trip on Route 66. Your vehicle suddenly breaks down, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

In this scenario, you would call your auto insurance company‘s dedicated helpline, requesting a tow. A towing vehicle would be immediately dispatched to your location. The roadside assistance company has two options — servicing your car on the spot or towing your vehicle to the nearest repair shop.

All services performed would be in line with your towing and labor coverage. Some exclusions may apply, and out-of-pocket costs are possible (e.g., fuel or brand-new tire).

What’s the Difference Between Roadside Assistance and Towing and Labor Coverage?

If you have roadside assistance coverage in your car insurance policy, you might be wondering what towing and labor coverage is for and how it’s different. 

Roadside assistance and towing and labor coverage are terms used interchangeably. Both mean the same thing. For clarity’s sake, refer to both terms when taking out a policy with your insurance company.

How Much Does Towing and Labor Coverage Cost?

Adding towing and labor coverage to your car insurance policy will typically raise your monthly costs by a few dollars — usually around $50-100 per year. Several factors determine coverage cost, including your vehicle’s age, your driving record, and the number of roadside emergency claims you’ve already made on that vehicle.

What is Towing and Labor Coverage For?

Man using a scissor jack

Towing and labor coverage includes the following events:

  • Changing tires
  • Battery delivery
  • Locksmith services
  • Pulling a stuck vehicle
  • Jumpstarting a dead battery
  • Fuel delivery (not including fuel costs)
  • Towing (up to a maximum distance, e.g., 60 miles)
  • Transportation costs to the nearest repair facility

Auto insurance providers may categorize your roadside assistance coverage into multiple tiers. For example, one provider may offer a basic tier covering towing up to 20 miles and a higher-level tier that covers towing up to 1,000 miles.

Remember that towing and labor coverage varies depending on the policy and the number of claims. Some providers may only cover a tow, while others include full services such as jumpstarting batteries, switching out tires, and lockout services.

Policies also limit the number of hours of mechanical labor performed at the breakdown site, with the condition that a tow truck is sent if technicians cannot fix your vehicle in time.

What is Towing and Labor Coverage Not For?

Towing and labor coverage generally does not include the following:

  • Cost of fuel
  • Cost of materials (e.g., new tire or battery)

Additionally, towing and labor coverage policies are attached to a vehicle, not a driver. If you purchase towing and labor coverage, it will only apply to the vehicle you purchase it for. If you’re driving a rental car, check to see if the rental car company offers its own towing and labor program. 

Also, keep in mind that labor coverage limits set a maximum number of claims per year. Read your policy’s fine print to understand what towing and labor coverage is in your policy, how many annual claims you’re allowed, and what happens when you max out your benefits.

Doesn’t My Car Insurance Policy Already Have Towing and Labor Coverage?

Some auto insurance policies may have towing and labor coverage included. Collision insurance, which helps pay for damages caused to your vehicle in a moving accident with another vehicle, might include tow and labor coverage. However, it’s not a given, so be sure to read your policy and talk to your provider to find out. 

As the name implies, comprehensive insurance offers coverage of issues that collision insurance leaves out. This may include towing and labor coverage. Keep in mind that it may be called “roadside assistance coverage” in your policy. However, some policies require that you add roadside assistance separately. Please contact your insurer to confirm.

If another driver is determined at fault in an accident, they’re responsible for the cost of towing and the damage to your car — whether or not they have towing and labor coverage.

Is Towing and Labor Coverage Worth It?

We’ve covered the basics of what towing and labor coverage is, so now you can consider if it’s something you should add to your policy.

Towing and labor coverage are worth it for avid road-trippers or drivers who log long miles for work. Anyone with a greater likelihood of becoming stranded, especially with older vehicles, can do themselves a favor by purchasing tow and labor coverage

Those living in snowy or severe weather event regions could also benefit from this coverage. When a single-vehicle breakdown in the middle of nowhere could force you to pay $300+ out of pocket, $10 or $20 a year in towing and labor coverage almost sounds too good to be true.

How Do I Buy Towing and Labor Coverage?

Person using a phone

Now that you know what towing and labor coverage is, how it works, and how it can benefit you, you might be ready to add it to your policy. Luckily, it’s very easy to purchase.

The first step is to contact your auto insurance provider and double-check that roadside assistance is not included with your existing policy.

Once you have confirmed towing and labor coverage needs to be added to your policy, move on to the next step: requesting a quote. Policyholders can add tow and labor coverage to their existing policy or purchase a standalone policy from a different provider. Remember to compare quotes from multiple auto insurance companies and carefully assess them based on pricing and services offered.

One thing to look for is how the auto insurance provider you’re considering allows you to use your towing and labor coverage. For example, Liberty Mutual provides a dedicated roadside assistance helpline, which allows you to apply for service online or use the Liberty Mutual smartphone app to “book” the service. While you’re shopping around, consider what features will be most useful to you. 

Learn More About Towing and Labor Coverage

Prevent the potentially disastrous effects of being stranded out on the road and pay for affordable towing and labor coverage on your existing or new policy. 

Interested in learning more about towing and labor coverage? Learn more about roadside assistance plan options with our review of five top-rated programs.

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