What is roadside assistance?

11 minute read Published on Feb 9, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

What is roadside assistance?

Roadside assistance is a type of auto insurance that many drivers choose to add to their policies due to the peace of mind it provides. Continue reading to find out more about what roadside assistance covers and how it can help you in an emergency.

Roadside assistance coverage explained

Roadside assistance is an essential type of protection that comes in handy in all kinds of emergency situations. The purpose of roadside assistance coverage is to provide emergency services to drivers. Whether you run out of gas on a country road or get into an accident on the highway, having roadside assistance can help. Since this type of coverage is intended for emergency situations, most roadside assistance services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What are roadside assistance services?

What does roadside assistance cover? Roadside assistance programs ultimately vary between providers, but you can expect your coverage to protect you for the following services:

  • Towing services
  • Battery boost
  • Tire services
  • Lockout services
  • Winching and extrication
  • Fuel delivery services
  • Trip interruption
  • Breakdown coverage

We explain each of these services in detail below:


Towing services comes free of charge with most roadside assistance programs, up to a certain limit. Thus, if your car breaks down after driving over a pot hole or you get into an accident, you can call for roadside assistance and you will likely receive a free tow.

Battery jump start

Battery jump is another service that most roadside assistance programs include. This service is vital, as you never know when you will have a dead battery on your hands. In the event that your car battery dies while on the road, you can call for roadside assistance and a roadside technician will arrive. The company will either charge your battery so that you can drive to the nearest mechanic or if your battery is completely dead and cannot be revived, they will drive you where you need to go.

Tire services

Many drivers don’t know how to change a tire, and yet, there may come a time when your tire pops and needs to be changed. Thankfully, if you have roadside assistance coverage, tire services, such as a flat tire change, will be included. Simply call roadside assistance and explain that you need help changing your tire. Please note that it is up to the driver to provide the spare tire. A BrokerLink insurance advisor can also explain the importance of winter tires installing winter tires on your vehicle is one important component of winter car maintenance.

Lockout services

If you’ve ever accidentally locked yourself out of your car, you know what a pain it can be. Luckily, the next time this happens, you can phone roadside assistance and they will help you get back into your vehicle or give you a lift to where your keys are located.

Winching and extrication

Driving off the road is a scary experience, but unfortunately, it could happen to you, especially when driving in harsh winter conditions. If you accidentally drive off the road, most roadside assistance programs can help you due to the winching and extraction services they include. For a list of safe driving tips and tips for driving on icy roads, contact BrokerLink today.

Fuel delivery services

Next, your roadside assistance coverage may also include fuel delivery services. In other words, if you run out of gas while driving, you can call your provider and they will bring gas and help you empty it into your tank.

Trip interruption

You’ve likely heard of trip interruption insurance before, but perhaps only in the context of travel insurance. The reality is that some roadside assistance programs include a degree of trip interruption coverage.

Specifically, if you miss a trip or vacation due to an unforeseen vehicle breakdown, your provider may reimburse you for the costs of the missed portion of your vacation.

Please note that there are usually several restrictions that apply to this type of coverage, including what caused the breakdown in your car and the amount that you will be covered up to.

What to consider before purchasing a roadside assistance program

Before purchasing any type of insurance, from accident forgiveness coverage to collision car insurance, you will need to consider several factors. The same goes for roadside assistance coverage. A few of the specific factors you should consider when deciding whether to add roadside assistance to your car insurance policy are as follows:

The condition of your car

Depending on the condition of your car, roadside assistance coverage may or may not be worth it. If your car is older and more prone to breaking down, then having this type of coverage could be worthwhile. In contrast, if your car is brand-new and equipped with tons of state-of-the-art safety features, then your odds of getting into an accident may be less, and thus, roadside assistance may not be necessary.

Your level of experience with driving and cars

If you have automotive experience, meaning you know how to change a tire, or you are a defensive driving expert, reducing your odds of getting into an accident, roadside assistance may not be necessary for you.

How often you drive your car

If you spend an above-average amount of time behind the wheel, your odds of getting into an accident are higher. Therefore, roadside assistance coverage might be extra important and even save you money in the long run.

Where you drive your car

If you regularly drive on rural roads, highways, or at night, you may be at a higher risk of an accident. Further, if you get into an accident on a country road or when driving at night, both of which usually involve minimal traffic, roadside assistance might be extra important as there may not be many alternative options for help if you get into an accident.

Your budget

The reality is that adding extra coverage to your car insurance policy, whether that be roadside assistance coverage or comprehensive car coverage, will increase your rates. The more coverage you choose, the more your premium will go up. Thus, if you are on a tight budget, the additional roadside assistance cost may not be possible.

Roadside assistance providers in Canada

What is unique about roadside assistance coverage in Canada is that, while you can purchase it from an insurance company or broker, you can also purchase it from third party providers, such as CAA. We outline a few of the most popular roadside assistance providers in the country below:


CAA is the largest roadside assistance provider in Canada. Costs vary between provinces, but generally speaking, they have basic memberships and more advanced memberships. Basic memberships are intended for short-distance commuters and advanced memberships are designed for those who travel more frequently and for longer distances. It is worth noting that CAA has over 35,000 tow trucks operating in Canada.

Canadian Tire Roadside

Canadian Tire is another company that offers a roadside assistance service. Again, there are multiple plan options that vary in price. Plans come with a certain number of emergency calls each year, as well as a towing limit listed in kilometres.

Insurance companies

If you do not wish to purchase roadside assistance coverage from a third party company, like CAA or Canadian Tire, you can also purchase this type of coverage directly from an insurance company. An insurance broker at BrokerLink can help you find an insurer that offers roadside assistance coverage so that you can add it to your no-fault insurance policy.

This type of coverage can usually be added to a car insurance policy as an endorsement or rider. To ensure you get the best roadside coverage at the most competitive price, reach out to BrokerLink for a free car insurance quote. One of our licensed brokers will be happy to provide you with a free quote in minutes, as well as shop around on your behalf to compare rates.

Credit card companies

Roadside assistance, similar to rental car coverage, is a type of coverage that many credit card companies offer. For instance, Mastercard and Visa both have certain credit cards that include the perk of complimentary roadside assistance coverage.

Research your credit card to see if you already have this type of coverage and if not, consider calling your bank about other credit cards that offer roadside assistance. A few credit cards in Canada that currently offer roadside assistance include the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite, Triangle World Elite Mastercard, and BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard.

Car dealerships

Some car dealerships in Canada also offer roadside assistance services to customers. Inquire directly with your local dealership to find out what your options are.

Auto manufacturers

Did you know that most car manufacturers typically have their own roadside assistance programs via the warranties they offer? If you recently bought a new car, carefully review the owner’s manual to find out if the purchase of your vehicle came with a warranty that included roadside assistance services. If you are having trouble finding out this information, call the dealership that you purchased your car from and ask them. Please note that if you bought a used car, there is a chance that the roadside assistance service and factory warranty may have already expired, so be sure to ask the seller about this first.

Is roadside assistance mandatory in Canada?

No, roadside assistance coverage is not mandatory in Canada. Unlike other types of car insurance that are legally required, you do not need to purchase roadside assistance in order to get behind the wheel. That said, many drivers still choose to add it to their policies or become a member of an independent roadside assistance program due to the benefits and peace of mind it provides.

Mandatory car insurance coverage in Canada

Now that you know that roadside assistance coverage is not mandatory in Canada, let’s consider what types of coverage are mandatory. In Ontario, the following four coverages are required:

In other words, your auto insurance policy must contain the coverages listed above if you want to drive legally in the province. Car insurance requirements vary between provinces, but all drivers are required to have some type of car insurance no matter where they live. Failure to purchase car insurance coverage can result in serious penalties. Ontario has some of the harshest penalties for uninsured driving, which is what makes buying auto insurance one of the most important car maintenance tips.

For example, if you are caught driving without insurance anywhere in the province, you could face fines of up to $50,000, the impoundment of your vehicle, the suspension of your driver’s licence for up to a year, and a 25% surcharge on whatever fine you incur.

Third party liability coverage

Third party liability coverage is the first type of coverage that’s required in Ontario. Drivers must have at least $200,000 in liability coverage to drive. This type of coverage protects you if you get into an at-fault accident. Specifically, it can pay for medical fees if someone is injured, vehicle repairs if someone's car is damaged, and even legal fees.

Accident benefits coverage

Accident benefits coverage will pay for the cost of medical fees if you or someone else involved in a car accident suffers bodily harm. This type of coverage will pay for costs that aren’t covered by health insurance, such as prescription medications, physical therapy, or rehabilitation. It can also cover lost income if someone is temporarily unable to work due to their injury or funeral costs if someone dies as a result of the accident.

Direct compensation coverage

Direct compensation coverage will pay for you to repair your car if it is damaged in an accident that you were not at fault for.

Uninsured automobile coverage

Uninsured automobile coverage is a required type of auto insurance in many provinces. This coverage protects you if you get into an accident with another driver who is driving without insurance or who does not have enough coverage to pay for the cost of the collision. It can also cover you if you get into an accident with a driver who flees the scene, i.e. a hit and run.

Optional car insurance coverage in Canada

Roadside assistance is just one type of optional car insurance in Canada. The reality is that there are many others, like collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and accident forgiveness coverage. Each optional coverage type offers additional protection to drivers. Continue reading for a list of some of the most popular optional coverages in Canada.

Collision coverage

Collision car coverage is a form of extra protection to help you pay for the cost of property damage. Specifically, if you get into an accident and your car is damaged, collision coverage can help pay to repair or replace it. Collision coverage is ideal for accidents that result in extensive damage. No matter who was at fault for the accident or whether the accident was with another vehicle, an animal, or an object on the road, collision coverage can be claimed.

Comprehensive coverage

Comprehensive car coverage is another important type of optional car insurance coverage. Also known as parked car insurance, this coverage will protect you against losses or damage that happen to your vehicle while parked.

For instance, if someone steals your car or it is damaged by a tree that falls on your driveway, you can file a comprehensive coverage claim. The specific perils that comprehensive coverage protects against range from theft and vandalism to fire, explosions and riots, falling and flying objects, and weather-related incidents, such as flooding and hail. Comprehensive coverage can issue payouts to help pay for vehicle repairs or replacements.

Accident forgiveness coverage

One more type of optional car insurance coverage popular among drivers is accident forgiveness. Accident forgiveness is additional coverage that can be added to your car insurance policy as an endorsement, to protect your driving record and to help prevent your insurance premium from increasing if you have an at-fault accident claim. Note: coverage and eligibility varies by province.

Waiver of depreciation

A waiver of depreciation is strongly recommended for those who drive brand new vehicles. With this type of rider or endorsement added to your policy, your insurer will issue a payout for the full value of your vehicle, waiving any depreciation that previously occurred if it is totalled in a collision and needs to be replaced.

Loss of use coverage

Finally, loss of use coverage is a type of protection that will come in handy if your car is damaged and needs to be repaired. We all know that car repairs can take longer than we think, and being without vehicles is not only a major nuisance but also a financial burden. Loss of use coverage aims to ease this financial burden by reimbursing drivers for the cost of alternate forms of transportation while their cars are in the shop. For instance, loss of use coverage can pay for the cost of renting a car, taking public transit, or hiring taxis or ride shares until your vehicle is back up and running.

Get in touch with BrokerLink

For more information on how roadside assistance coverage works, contact BrokerLink today. We can answer all of your car insurance-related questions, including what roadside assistance coverage is, how it benefits you, and where you can purchase this type of coverage. We can also help you compare prices to ensure you get the most competitive rate.

Plus, as auto insurance experts, we can also give you all kinds of car insurance advice. Whether you want to know about the importance of checking for leaks or want to receive advice on ways that you can keep your rates low, the BrokerLink team is here.

We also specialize in providing free quotes to customers. All BrokerLink car insurance quotes are accurate, reliable, and obligation-free. This means that you will be under no obligation to purchase insurance from us after requesting a free quote. You have nothing to lose! Give us a call, visit one of our insurance offices, or go on our website and use our online quote tool to receive your free auto insurance quote today. It takes as little as five minutes.

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