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AAA Insurance – Is It Worth It?

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While reading over at Stop Buying Crap, Cap asked if AAA Insurance is Crap or Not.

I bought it last year before my son and I took a 1,000+ mile trip by ourselves. He was 3 at the time, and the last thing I wanted to do is have to keep him calm and entertained in the event of a flat tire on a busy highway. I wanted the peace of mind that we could wait in our car until someone arrived.  The trip was also the reason we caved in and finally purchased a cellphone.

To me, the $48 for the year was worth it for that one trip. It saved me from worrying the whole drive. Now, I haven’t used it at all and my renewal is coming up in a few months.  I’m not so sure that I will renew it, but I have a feeling I will. That’s the thing with insurance. You have it and you may need to use it, but there is no guarantee that it will pay for itself over time.

I could try to get discounts at places, but if we need lodging we tend to stay at mom and pop hotels (cheaper and more character) and where we live no restaurants or entertainment places accept the card for a discount.

So really…peace of mind for traveling is all that we have it for. I guess it could come in handy in case my engine goes kaput in lieu of my car’s recent recall (which I still haven’t received official notice for).

In a few months I will need to make my final decision on whether $48/year is worth having it in case we need it.  So far I am thinking it is. Another site that may be worth checking out is insurance-how-to.com for some comparisons of AAA and a few other options.

Any thoughts?


20 Comments

  • Reply Kevin |

    I personally like the AAA service, even though I rarely use the towing. I think in the 10 years I’ve had it, I’ve used the towing once and the lockout services twice.

    I like the travel services they provide, the many discounts, and the free guidebooks and maps. I also like the discounts and quality service when you go with AAA approved auto service shops. Peace of mind is nice to have too. They also have a good auto buying discount program if you are buying a new car.

  • Reply Chris |

    I was a member of AAA for about 15 years. I moved to Texas, and I needed their service once, and it was horrible. My former 15 years with them in Massachusetts was excellent, but after this one bad experience with them, I did not renew my membership.

    I agree with Kevin, the maps, guidebooks and discounts are great. As well as the piece of mind. At $48 a year, that’s less than $1 a week. For piece of mind, I would pay to renew the membership……although I am somewhat hypocritical, suggesting you renew when I no longer am a member.

  • Reply Julie |

    I have AAA. I think its well worth it. My job requires me to drive all day and I have to use my car. Within in this year I have had two incidents where I needed service. One incident I had gotten a flat tire while driving on the highway as it was getting dark. I used my cellphone, (it pays to have a cellphone too), I called AAA. Someone came out and put on my spare tire on for me. Another time I was way out in the country and my bearings in my rear wheels were going out. My phone wasn’t getting any service. Some kind man let me use his work cellphone, I was able to get a hold of AAA, they sent out a tow truck to tow my car to the dealership near by where I lived.

    The card can be used as a bond card too if you were to receive a speeding ticket and don’t want to give up your license.

    I think its well worth it.

  • Reply Jason |

    Don’t forget that when you NEED a tow, companies regularly charge north of $3 per mile! You may hit that before even getting off an interstate.

    In my mind, it is a must.

  • Reply Sue |

    While I’m happy with my AAA membership, I’m considering dropping it after this year just to save money. In the past I’ve gotten towing & roadside assistance through my car insurance for maybe $6- $12 per year, which is a savings over AAA. On the other hand, AAA membership does come with lots of discounts. I just found out one can get Amtrack discounts through AAA – how ironic!

  • Reply Julie |

    AAA also has a bigger discount on glasses from Lens Crafters then some insurances and Lens Crafters own discounts.

  • Reply Barb |

    I read about you in Scott Burns’ column–congratulations on paying off $8K of your debt. Hang in there! It is so worth it–dh and I have been totally debt-free since 2002, and it feels every bit as good as you would think.

    Re: AAA, we pay $117/year to cover dh, me and two adult children. I consider it peace of mind money in case my kids get stranded. We also make a nice discount on our frequent Super 8 and Comfort Inn visits. We’ve used it several times for towing, and while we had to wait quite a while for the tow, we saved a bundle. Bottom line: if you’re traveling alone with your child, it’s worth it for the peace of mind.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Barb – congrats on being debt-free! It’s always nice to hear success stories 🙂

    Thank you everyone for leaving a comment. When you are trying to cut costs, sometimes it’s hard to justify something that you have just for peace of mind. I really have not used my membership for anything since I received it.

    It’s very interesting to learn about the Lens Crafters discount. I probably skimmed right over that because we do not have one near to where I live. But, there is a possibility of stopping by one when we visit our parents next. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I need new glasses badly lol.

  • Reply Jen |

    I also read about your blog in the Burns column. Congratulations on your efforts! I used to be carry credit card debt, too, and I felt such relief and freedom when I paid it off! But, even before that, I felt hopeful and empowered when I started a plan to pay it off and was actively working towards that goal.

    Anyway, about AAA. I got a AAA card when I started driving to college, which was 750 miles away from home. That was about 15 years ago. Since then, they’ve helped me out several times. The latest incident was two years ago when they saved Christmas for me! My boyfriend and I had loaded up the car to head to Vermont on Christmas Eve day. The car didn’t start. All the car repair places in my town were closed, of course. But AAA came, diagnosed the problem (dead battery), recharged it and advised me to go to Sears to get a new battery. If I didn’t have that service I would have had to wait until Dec 26. So even in my own driveway they helped me out of a jam.

  • Reply TL |

    There’s an alternative to AAA — Better World Club (www.betterworldclub.com). Those guys will donate 1% of their revenues to environmental clean up, clean air, etc. They are either cheaper or the same cost as AAA.

    You should also check your credit card. E.g. MasterCard Platinum provides free roadside service. American Express charge cards do as well, and their yearly fee might be cheaper than what AAA charges.

  • Reply David |

    Little late on this one, but I found a loophole in AAA service. Once you buy AAA service, you’re technically always a member. If you let the coverage lapse, you can get it reinstated at any time, and pay a pro-rated charge. This means that you can wait until you need AAA service, and get your coverage reinstated over the phone, at a discounted rate. Your mileage here may vary, but I was able to do this twice. Once, I was stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken fuel pump. I called, and paid the $35 to reinstate the account (it was halfway through a coverage year). They sent the tow truck right away, and I was good to go, for less money. Of course, this policy could change at any time, but it might be worth a shot. Another strategy might be to let the coverage lapse, and only get it reinstated when you are planning a long trip, or finances get tight (meaning a tow trip or keys locked in the car could ruin a monthly budget, makes AAA worth it).

  • Reply Jay |

    AAA sucks. They used a technicality to cancel a friend of mine, leaving him without insurance. He paid three months in advance too. They are dishonest. I’ll never use them and will tell everyone I meet to never use that company.

  • Reply Allison |

    “I found a loophole in AAA service” When I signed up, they said that I wasn’t allowed to use the towing service for three days… perhaps the policy has changed.

  • Reply Jeff |

    Never, ever buy insurance from AAA.

    An elderly friend of mine bought insurance. He’s had several accidents but did not say anything as he shopped. AAA does not “count” the accidents until AFTER you buy the insurance.

    AFTER THEY ISSUE HIS POLICY they come back and raise his rates by 5 TIMES.

    They claim he should have told them.

    He said he figured they would run his driving history and tell him what the rate would be. They are the experts, after all.

    NEVER, EVER BUY INSURANCE FROM AAA. THEY WILL SCREW YOU. ESPECIALLY AN UNDERWRITER BY THE NAME OF JAMIE. A WOMAN WHO IS ON HER PERIOD EVERY DAY OF HER LIFE.

    • Reply Dawn |

      I can’t argue that customer service should always be top priority to ALL customers. So, someone that is an eternal crab probably shouldn’t work in that type of field. That said, I have to disagree with you, on your opinion, about raising the rates after finding out about your friend’s driving record. Had your friend been honest about his/her driving record, they would have gotten a more accurate quote of the premium. Everyone knows, that bad driving records = high premiums and I’m sure that’s why your friend wasn’t so willing to disclose that info.

  • Reply jaime |

    read through this post. the topic was entitled “AAA INSURANCE” (not AAA membership). Just want to make it clear to anyone not familiar with AAA… that if you buy an AAA membership, you can use it for towing, discounts, maps, trip planning, etc, money markets, cds, other things). AAA insurance should not be confused with being just an AAA member. Most people might know this. Others might not. Again the topic was AAA INSURANCE. I’m thinking and have inquired with AAA using my AAA membership for AUTO and Homeowners Insurance quotes. I answered the questions honestly (shame on those of you who didn’t… of course they’ll find out your driving history and if you’ve had any auto and/or homeowners claims). Is there anyone out there who is HONEST and who has had the AAA INSURANCE for a long time and if so, are you happy with the INSURANCE coverage for your car and/or home? Did the insurance policy jump or stay about the same? Again, not talking about towing… that’s a perk of being an AAA member.

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