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May 2, 2018

How to choose Roadside Assistance and Rental coverages

We used Parts 1-3 of this series to break down car insurance coverages—without the jargon and as simply as possible. 

So far, we’ve talked about Liability—covers the other person and their car when you cause an accident, Comprehensive and Collision—covers your car when you cause an accident or when something happens to your car, and we explained how to decide if you need Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist, and Medical Payments coverages.

But what if your car is in the shop due to an incident and you just need a ride, or what if you get a flat on your commute? Roadside Assistance and Rental coverages are usually optional, but they can be really useful when you need a helping hand.

What is Roadside Assistance coverage?

Roadside Assistance covers the services you need when you are stranded on the side of the road by the unexpected. It could be a tow, getting pulled out of a ditch, or an emergency fill-up.

Do you need Roadside Assistance?

Car troubles happen to just about everyone, so it’s a good idea to have Roadside Assistance in your back pocket. Most insurance companies offer it as an add-on service, or you might purchase it through a service like AAA.

With Root Insurance, you automatically get Roadside Assistance with any policy at no extra charge. Just tap a button in the Root app, and you'll automatically be connected to our roadside partners. 

What is Rental coverage?

Sometimes called Rental Car Reimbursement, Rental coverage pays to rent a car while your vehicle is being repaired after an incident. Just because your car won’t start, doesn’t mean you can stop. You will probably still need to get to work or school and run errands, so being without a car can be a huge disruption. A rental car can make a big difference in a difficult time.

Rental coverage comes as an opt-in or opt-out option and at a variety of price levels. 

At Root, you can also choose Lyft credits instead of a rental, if it’s more convenient. Rental coverage—like insurance, itself—is one of those things you often don’t think about until you need it. 

How do Rental coverage limits work?

Rental coverage plans have limits—one for the maximum amount your insurer will pay per day for your rental and one for the maximum your insurer will pay per incident. 

Let’s say you choose a Rental coverage plan that pays up to $40 a day and up to $1,200 an incident for a rental car—it might be offered as 40/1200. If you get into an accident and need a rental, you can choose any rental car that doesn’t cost more than $40 a day. And since $1,200 is the maximum per accident covered in this example, you’d have 30 days of your rental car paid (30 X $40/day = $1200). This assumes you chose a rental car that doesn't cost more than $40 per day. If it costs more per day, you'll pay the difference out of pocket.

What isn’t covered with Rental?

Keep in mind that when we say Rental coverage, we’re not talking about the Liability, Comprehensive, and Collision coverages you buy to cover incidents that might occur with your rental car. 

We’re only talking about a specific insurance that will cover the cost to rent a car, if your car is in the shop due to a covered incident. Rental coverage also doesn’t cover your rental car costs during vacation or when your vehicle is getting regular maintenance. 

Basically, Rental coverage is only for covering the cost of a rental vehicle when your insured vehicle is getting fixed from a covered loss, or when your covered car is stolen. 

Do you need Rental coverage?

It depends on your situation. Rental coverage is not required by law, but costs can pile up when your car is in recovery, especially when big fixes are needed. How inconvenient will not having a car be for you, if your car needs repairs after an accident? 

Consider your specific needs. Is public transit an option, or do you have extra cash on hand to pay for a rental out of pocket? Do you have another car you can use? Could someone give you a ride, if repairs take days or weeks?

How much Rental coverage is enough?

Again, that depends on your specific situation. But here are some factors to keep in mind.

  1. Location: Where do you live? Renting a car in NYC will cost a lot more than renting a car in Bowling Green, Ohio. Do a quick search for rental cars in your area to gauge the daily costs you’ll need covered.

  2. Car size: How much space do you need? Do you have kids in tow and need extra space? Usually, a larger car will cost more.

  3. Luxury: What’s your priority? If you prefer to drive a more luxurious car, you should probably consider a higher level of rental coverage, so your daily limit will cover the cost.

The difference between options is usually only a few dollars a month. Rental coverage is generally pretty inexpensive, but rental cars are not. 

Car insurance made simpler every day 

We hope this series has helped you untangle your coverage options and some of the insurance jargon floating around the internet.

If you found this series on breaking down car insurance coverages helpful, you'll find our jargon-free car insurance even more straightforward. Our Root app helps make choosing coverage fast and easy. 

The app shows you how each coverage choice we discussed in this series affects your price—before you choose. So, you can save more of your time and money.

Roadside Assistance must be purchased separately in California.

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