Do I have Access to Roadside Assistance with a Rental?

Roadside assistance is a type of insurance policy that can come to your aid during a vehicular crisis. It commonly offers access to services including breakdown rescue, flat tire repair and emergency mobile refueling. You can subscribe to roadside assistance programs through travel clubs or through your auto insurance carrier, and some higher-end car rentals even include a roadside assistance subscription.

No-Fault Incidents

The central focus of a standard roadside assistance policy is quickly addressing no-fault incidents, or events that occurred despite the best reasonable efforts of the rental car driver. Specific definitions and circumstances vary by insurance provider, but typical examples of no-fault incidents may include new tire delivery, post-collision assistance and towing after vehicle failure.

Standard roadside assistance policies provide unlimited access to these services, although there are some differences to how they are handled based on whether the policy is with a car insurance provider or an independent automobile club.
Every incidence of roadside assistance use on a policy obtained from a car insurance provider or rental agency is counted as a claim on your policy and may affect your future rates. On the other hand, independent auto insurance clubs only report serious incidents such as collisions to your auto insurance company.

Hand with a car key.

Hand with a car key, photo from Shutterstock

At-Fault Incidents

At-fault incidents are those that are deemed by the roadside assistance provider to be the fault of the driver. Examples of at-fault events include locking ignition keys inside the car and drained batteries due to unattended vehicle peripherals as well as some collisions, and these incidents are not usually covered by standard roadside assistance policies offered with rental cars.
Although the agency may still dispatch assistance to the scene, you will be responsible for the costs of any services required directly out of pocket. Most rental agencies and independent insurers offer supplements to their standard roadside assistance policies at an additional cost that provide coverage for incidents deemed at-fault. Although they are only available at a premium, the comprehensive peace of mind these policies can provide makes them well worth the investment for the prudent rental car driver.

Unfortunately, locking your keys in a rental car will mean additional expenses for the majority of customers. However, drivers with equal measures of paranoia and foresight can assuage almost any common rental car fears by taking advantage of supplemental insurance offered by the rental agency, by their own insurer or by maintaining cover under an independent auto club’s policy.

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driving car

car driving, photo from Shutterstock


I’m offering public relations, communications and image counseling in everyday life and I have a PR agency – PRwave INTERNATIONAL. I am passionate about reading, blogging (I also have a blog in Romanian) and traveling. Follow me on Twitter - @violetaloredana (Romanian) and @TravelMoments.

8 thoughts on “Do I have Access to Roadside Assistance with a Rental?

  • 3 December, 2015 at 23:54

    I never considered how locking your keys in the car could be an “at-fault” event. I will have to be more mindful of those kinds of things when it comes to working with roadside assistance, as well as auto insurance. I will also have to be sure to always opt in with the supplemental insurance offered with rentals. Thanks for the info!

  • 20 January, 2016 at 01:40

    Thanks for explaining at-fault incidents! I had no idea what they were, and I’m going to rent a car this weekend. I better make sure that I don’t lock my keys inside the car, or keep the lights on. I don’t want to make any of these mistakes that you mention!

  • 27 January, 2016 at 17:14

    Hallo there Lori, thanks a lot for sharing these tips. Most of us sometimes in life could find ourselves in such situations and it is good to know who you should be leaning on. I also don’t understand how locking your keys inside the car is considered an “At-Fault” incident, but thanks for sharing. I have learned a lot from the article.


  • 27 January, 2016 at 20:48

    It’s good to know that at-fault accidents with rentals are still going to cost me out-of-pocket expenses for services. I have wondered about that, especially since we use a rental car quite frequently when we visit family. I do always opt in for the supplemental coverage offered by the rental company, so hopefully with all that coverage my costs won’t be too high if something happens.

  • 9 April, 2016 at 08:57

    Getting into any sort of accident, whether in a rental car or your own vehicle, is never pleasant. The most important thing is to make sure that everyone involved is safe and to be in a calm, collected state of mind when you approach the paperwork pile.

  • 16 June, 2016 at 10:04

    When you rent a car, the company you choose will offer you a variety of coverage products to protect you in the event the car is damaged. A renter is responsible for damage to the vehicle including damage that occurs as a result of an accident, as well as, damages that result from a roadside assistance emergency.

    While you will not be responsible for things like transmission or engine trouble unless they are caused directly by you or your negligence, you are responsible for flat tires, lost keys or lockout service, jump starts, towing, and fuel and fluid delivery. You will also be at the mercy of the rental car company and may need to wait long hours for service providers to help you.

  • 18 August, 2016 at 19:23

    Last week, I left my car keys in my vehicle and had to call for roadside assistance. I was out in the middle of the desert camping and I’m pretty sure that my insurance covered it. However, I didn’t realize that that might be different when it comes to rental cars. This is good for me to know as I will be renting one next week while I am going on a road trip. I will just have to make sure that my keys are with me at all times so they don’t get accidentally left in the car.

  • 31 July, 2017 at 07:37

    Thanks for sharing information on a roadside assistance with rental vehicle. This is a brilliant article to understand all process about roadside assistance. I have never understood the process but after reading this post I understand this little not fully. Thank once again.


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