Breakdown – Is Triple A(AAA) Worth The Money?

by The Happy Rock on April 24, 2008

breakdown-car-stranded.jpgAs we were driving home from watching some of our nieces and nephews for the weekend, I realized that pushing on the gas pedal of our Nissan Murano was not doing ANYTHING! I quickly pulled over and coasted to a stop. I figured I would try a restart and see if that fixes anything. Nope, the dreaded low battery cranking and then clicking. We were stranded!

Deep breath, stay calm. Call The Happy Boulderette(Mom) and arrange ride. Call AAA to get towed. Entertain The Happy Pebble and The Not So Happy And Hungry Pebble Jr. for about 45 minutes. Luckily we had a spare bottle that we heated with body warmth to keep Jr. content enough. All in all it was actually kind of endearing to see the family huddled together in the front seat making the best of a not so perfect situation.

Both my mom and the tow truck arrived almost he same time. We arrived home without incident and our car ended up at the mechanic. Got the car back today and it turned out to be the drive belt pulley and bracket to the tune of $400 with oil change and tune-up.

So no the real question, is AAA worth it……Yes. The trick in trying to analyze the whether AAA is truly worth the cost is to realize what you are paying for. For those that don’t know what AAA is or what they have to offer, here is the link to the benefits page of Mid-Atlantic AAA. People sign up for the emergency roadside services, and rarely use the discounts or travel planning from what I can tell. The point to remember is that you are buying insurance. Like most insurance the percentages and math say that it is isn’t worth it, but that doesn’t mean the protection, convenience, and psychological aspects don’t make up for it math.

First, if you use the discounts for things like movie theater, hotels, and other related activities, the membership will probably pay for itself pretty quickly. For the most part though, you can get similar or better discounts and planning on the web for free.

tow-truck-lights.jpgSecond, the road services value will depend on the kind of car and driving you are doing, so these numbers will vary by family. For us, we have been paying the $150 a year for AAA Plus(150 mile towing package) for 6 years now. Including Sunday’s use I have used it 5 times. Two lock outs in the hectic time leading up to our wedding and three tows, two 5 miles and the other 50 miles. Mathematically the numbers are ugly. $900 paid and only about $350 in services used. I suspect that those numbers will be pretty close to the same for ‘most’ people.

Even though the math doesn’t work out in your favor, most people are still willing to pay for the insurance. They want to know that their wife can easily get out of a jam or that someone will be there relatively quickly with just a phone call when something does happen. Just from talking to people this aspect of the AAA coverage is generally accepted as well worth the money.

So, is it worth? I say yes, as long as you realize that you are paying for piece of mind and not getting a good deal on roadside coverage.

* Note – Some auto insurance policies provide emergency roadside clauses, but I have had to dig for information on my previous policies. I have now learned to call and ask.