Long ago, while in college a group of us were talking our beat up old cars. Being college students we didn’t have money to spend on new cars. One of the students, Nicole said she drove a 10 year old car, but her Dad insisted she take out AAA tow insurance and carry a cellphone. (Back in the dark ages, not everyone had a cell. It was called a “car phone” and usually needed what looked like a spare purse!) She drove 24 miles to and from classes and her Dad did not want her taking chances on her old jalopy, especially in winter.
Recently, I was reminded of the value of tow insurance. Every Thursday I drive out to the ACCC offices and I use my mom’s car. The car is a 12 year old Toyota- in great shape, but it sits in her driveway months at a time. It needs a run every once in a while just to keep it from drying out and becoming a yard ornament. I’m happy to help, and I save a lot of gas over using my big gas guzzling Explorer. Here comes the nightmare…
I picked up the car as usual Thursday morning, and headed down the highway with the A/C cranking. (Another reason to use her car, my A/C is barely tepid, hers gets really cold – but I digress.)
After about 20 minutes of stop and go traffic the overheat light goes on… Oh great! Today is the company’s summer outing – and I plan on having a good time – and the car decides it’s a good time for trouble! I pulled over and steam started pouring from the hood.
This would be no problem with my own car – I have tools, duct tape, and can probably fix my Ford. Her car had no tools, and being a small Japanese car I couldn’t even imagine what was under the hood. I opened it up, and could not even see the hose that was steaming, buried within the engine compartment. But anyway… I called a tow truck – (first using FREE 411 which I highly endorse.)
Over 45 minutes later, the truck arrives and tows me back to his garage…
“How much for the tow?”
“Okay, I’m here. Fix it.” Two hours later I am on my way. $150 for the tow, $279 for the repair. And an expensive lesson in taking valuable advice.
If you drive an old car, in my opinion it is very much worth it to have tow insurance, whether AAA or some other equivalent vendor (check and compare service and price levels.)
My premium for the year would have been $67.00. ($15 first time enrollment, $52 annually) And on this one instance it would have saved me $83 over the cost of the tow alone. And they would tow me 20 miles for free – which was enough to get it home, where I could find a buddy to fix it for me or take the time to figure it out, instead of being forced to pay the local garage the full rate.
Needless to say, I am now a AAA member. My own car is not getting any younger. And there are a bunch of really good discounts. AAA has so many members, a lot of major companies market to its members with generous discounts. We don’t usually endorse products or services in this blog- and I am not speaking for the company, and I don’t want to sound like a commercial for AAA. I just think its a good idea that will actually save money if you ever need roadside assistance. Winter is coming – lockouts? Freezeups? Stuck in snow? Tow truck service is expensive, but not for me. Not anymore. ($429 worth of lessons – Jeez, I could have had AAA for almost 8 years for that price!)
Is there any other optional insurance or warranty that you have found to be a real money saver?