Did you break down in the turning lane? Get out of the way with CAA Roadside Assistance! When you’re on the road, unexpected car trouble can cause major delays—even if the problem could be fixed quickly in a garage. Investing in roadside assistance will generally protect you from the worst of things. Plus, it’ll usually ensure that you aren’t trapped in an unsafe situation with no way to get home.
As one of Canada’s most prominent auto companies, the Canadian Auto Association’s (CAA) Roadside Assistance program is a popular pick. But is the service really a good choice? In most regions, yes! For a more thorough look at CAA Roadside Assistance plans, and how to ensure that you’re eligible for them, keep reading below.
How to get CAA Roadside Assistance
At the moment, all CAA Membership plans include some degree of Roadside Assistance coverage. However, if you’ve gotten into an unfortunate situation on the road, either you or a passenger will have to be a CAA member in order to receive service—non-members cannot pay for help out of pocket.
Since CAA has different branches across the country, exact membership rates and perks vary based on location. Generally, the Basic/Classic membership tier (names vary across the country) costs ~$72-94 CAD/year, though higher tier memberships are also available.
How to request service
If you need to access CAA Roadside Assistance, you have a few options:
- Call CAA’s toll-free number
- Send a text to ask for help
- Use the CAA Roadside Service app
- Visit CAA Roadside Service’s website
Regardless of the contact method, you’ll be asked to provide basic information such as your location, the vehicle’s identifying information, your CAA membership info, and the problem you’re currently experiencing. From there, a team will be dispatched to help out and provide a lift, if necessary.
As we mentioned above, CAA has different membership regions and perks vary by location. To maximize your safety and prevent disappointments, we highly recommend that you check your region’s CAA page to determine which services are offered in your area.
Depending on region and membership level, your CAA Roadside Assistance membership may include the following perks:
- Emergency towing: perhaps the most essential roadside service, emergency towing ensures that CAA will tow your vehicle to a mechanic when it is no longer working. Higher membership tiers generally allow you to tow your car farther at no cost, though some CAA regions also allow you to pay out of pocket to tow your vehicle farther.
- Vehicle extraction: if you cannot get to your car (i.e. it has fallen into a ditch), CAA may be able to extract it (as long as it isn’t dangerous to do so).
- Locksmith services: if you’ve locked your keys into your car, locksmith services can help you retrieve them.
- Fuel delivery: depending on the situation, CAA may either deliver fuel or tow your car to a gas station.
- Battery service: CAA may be able to help jump-start or replace your battery on the road. Again, exact solutions available depend on region.
- Bike assist: in addition to auto coverage, some CAA regions offer bicycle assistance, motorcycle assistance, or both.
- Flat tire assistance: different CAA regions offer various flat tire solutions, including helping you replace the flat tire with a spare, delivering a new tire, or towing you to a mechanic.
- Safe return home: depending on the situation, CAA workers may drive you home. While this is helpful when your car has been towed, it can also be a life-saver (literally) if you suddenly cannot operate your vehicle.
- Accident benefit fund: some CAA regions provide you with a small amount of money (generally $300-2000) if you are in an accident.
Another word of warning: some perks are only available to higher membership tiers. Alternatively, they may offer premium members greater flexibility. When registering or renewing your membership, we recommend that you take a moment to check which tier-specific perks you’ll be eligible for.
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CAA Roadside Assistance Membership Levels
The exact CAA Roadside Assistance perks that you are eligible for vary by region and membership tier. In general, CAA offers 3 membership tiers: Basic, sometimes called “Classic,”, Plus, and Premier.
Some of the biggest differences across membership tiers that we’ve noticed are:
- Higher CAA Membership tiers are generally eligible for greater amounts of Roadside Assistance calls. For example, in the North/East Ontario region, CAA Classic and Plus members are entitled to 4 calls/year, while CAA Premier members are entitled to 5 calls/year.
- Fuel delivery specifics may vary by membership tier. For example, in Ontario’s Greater Toronto Hamilton Area region, Basic members are charged for any fuel delivered (though the delivery service itself is free), while Plus and Premier members are not charged for anything.
- Some regions only include bike or motorcycle service for upper tiers.
- In general, you are eligible to be towed farther if you are in a higher membership tier. For example, in the Atlantic Provinces region, Classic members are eligible for a 5km emergency tow, Plus members are eligible for a 160km emergency tow, and Premier members are eligible for “320km for one tow, and … 160km for 4 tows.”
What does CAA Roadside Assistance NOT cover?
For the most part, CAA Roadside Assistance coverage is pretty thorough. However, you generally cannot use your CAA perks, like a free oil change for example, on a vehicle that is already in the process of being serviced. Additionally, some of the features mentioned above may not be eligible in your region.
Since CAA only operates in North America, it does not cover any car issues that you run into outside of the continent.
Pros and Cons
On the plus side, CAA’s coverage is very thorough. It’s reassuring to know that you’re protected throughout North America, even if you’re just a passenger. Most people will rarely need to worry about coverage. CAA Membership also comes with other perks such as discounts at partnered restaurants, hotels, and car rental companies. There’s a good chance that your membership will partially pay for itself.
That being said, it’s also frustrating (though understandable) that services vary by both region and membership tier. That makes it difficult to know exactly what you’re eligible for. Plus, if you don’t run into trouble for a while, it can start to feel like the membership fees are adding up pointlessly. Though the coverage will almost certainly come in handy if you run into major car trouble.