RVs—especially motorized RVs—are complicated machines. Although there’s a considerable amount of care and engineering that goes into manufacturing these units, breakdowns can still happen. So, if you’re not a certified RV technician or a mechanic, how do you deal with such problems when you’re on the road? The answer is to invest in a roadside-assistance plan. And here are a few answers to questions you might have about these plans.
What do Roadside Assistance Plans Cover?
Basic plans will get you towed to a nearby service center. You’ll also get help if you run out of gas, have a blowout, need a jump-start, or get locked out. More comprehensive plans will get you help working through temperamental RV systems like air-conditioning, heating, slide outs, and the like. Some plans can even include “concierge” convenience services such as campsite and activity referrals, trip planning, and arranging service appointments.
Who Provides Roadside Assistance Plans?
If you buy a new RV, some manufacturers offer roadside assistance coverage free for a year. In addition, the service contract you bought from your dealer might also have coverage, though sometimes this only entails reimbursing you for towing expenses rather than fully coordinated assistance with an 800 number to call if you need help.
Several companies and organizations sell roadside assistance plans. Access to qualified, trained RV service technicians is a differentiator. If your unit needs to be towed, it needs to go to a qualified RV repair facility, and, if you’re 1,000 miles from home, you need guidance on finding such a facility. It’s critical that you stick with a service provider that has RV industry experience.
Coach-Net has been offering RV roadside assistance for more than 25 years, primarily via manufacturer-sponsored owner’s clubs. As discounted rates or specials on popular plans are a possibility here, it’s worth investigating this option. That said, if you call Coach-Net, their advisors will inform you that they provide service and warranty support to owners of RVs made by many different manufacturers. You’ll also see Coach-Net representatives at events sponsored by the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) and the Escapee Club, which also market roadside assistance plans to members and offer valuable program insights via their online forums.
The AAA—the granddaddy of motor clubs, established in 1902 and with around 51 million members—offers a program for RV owners. In addition, nearly 400,000 Good Sam Club members have signed up for its Allstate RV roadside assistance program, which is also available to AARP members. Finally, if you have your RV insured with Progressive Insurance you have the option of adding roadside assistance to your policy.
How Do I Choose an RV Roadside Assistance Plan?
Don’t make your decisions strictly based on price, which will range from roughly $115 to $170 a year. Consider your needs. For instance, if you’re technologically challenged, you really should select a plan that not only helps with breakdowns but also with RV-system problems. Also do some research online and by talking to other RV owners. Providers are only as good as their service support network, which includes everything from the customer service representatives on the phone to the tow truck driver responding to that call for help.
Experienced RV technicians man Coach-Net’s help lines 24/7. This is especially handy if one of the RV’s systems isn’t working, as these technicians can talk you through fixing problems on the spot. The Good Sam Club plan is a good value. It’s also RV focused, with access to experienced and trained staff, and will cover your car, utility trailer, motorcycle, and other vehicles. You’ll also get a free safety inspection at any Camping World store.
If a physical office is important to you, a plan through the AAA might be a good choice. You can go into a local AAA office and get trip advice, maps, and other information. Plus, the AAA has been around a long time and has an extensive network of automotive and truck dealers that can handle chassis issues if you have a breakdown. That said, its plans are on the high side of the pricing scale.
Progressive is a good low-cost option. But its coverage is vehicle specific, unlike that provided by AAA, Coach-Net, or Good Sam, which covers any of your owned or rented vehicles. Essentially, Progressive’s plan will get your covered unit towed to a nearby service facility.