Friday, August 25, 2017

Roadside Assistance: Comparing FMCA, AAA, Good Sam and Coach-Net

I recently had Good Sam's Roadside Assistance, but wanted to make a change.  Naturally, I went online to Facebook and posted a question about it asking what people preferred.  As usual, the most positive responses came from people who have used Coach-Net.  I had originally planned to get Coach-Net, but decided against it because it was more expensive.

It's important to note that a lot of insurance companies and extended warranty policies offer roadside assistance.  If you're shopping, be sure to check to see if you're covered elsewhere.

After reading various the various comments and experiences of other RVers, I decided to do a little bit of research and compare the four services that are most commonly mentioned:  FMCA Roadside Assistance, AAA Plus RV, Good Sam Auto+RV Standard, and the Coach-Net Motorized RV Plan.

Here's what I did:

1.  Created a spreadsheet listing features/benefits in column A and the four company's most popular plans across the top.

2.  For each feature/benefit, I filled in the corresponding cell for each company's plan based on the information presented on their web sites.  If a benefit wasn't mentioned on a company's site, I left that cell blank and highlighted it yellow.

3.  After all cells were completed (or incomplete and marked yellow), I called each company and asked for the missing details.

Disclaimer:  Calling FMCA resulted in getting asked to leave a message on a voice mail system.  So, missing data for FMCA wasn't recorded.  I'm not going to do business with any Roadside Assistance customer service operation that doesn't answer the phone at mid-day on a Friday.  Regardless, most other available FMCA data was considered.

Benefit-by-benefit comparison (just the major stuff)


Cost


Cost was evaluated considering first year cost and the year-to-year cost after the first year.  FMCA was the least expensive at $109 per year [Update:  on 11/4/2017 I read that FMCA had decreased their rates to $69/year]. AAA was the most expensive, as it was $101 to join + $80 for my motorhome + $24 for my wife + $39 for each additional person (I would have added my daughter).  That's $244/year, and it doesn't change.  Good Sam's was only $69 for the first year, but it goes up to $118 per year after that.  Coach-Net is $249 the first year (they do have discounts), but it drops to $149/year after that.  So, in order from least to most expensive:  FMCA, Good Sam's, Coach-Net and then AAA.

Coverage for other people in your family


Good Sam and Coach-Net cover your spouse and dependent children under 25 without additional cost.  AAA will cover anyone in your family, regardless of age, as long as you pay them (see above).  FMCA did not provide data.


Other vehicles you may own


Good Sam's covers cars, boat trailers and motorcycles.   Coach-Net and AAA basically cover whatever you're driving, although AAA mentions that motorcycle coverage is available separately.  FMCA did not provide data [Update 11/18/17:  FMCA's new web site states they also cover family members and their vehicles.  This includes spouse and children under 25 who live with you or are away attending school].

Towing


Good Sam's and Coach-Net will tow your vehicle (RV or cars) to the nearest professional or qualified repair center.  Both offer unlimited towing miles and no charges.   AAA will only tow up to 100 miles (although there is an upgraded package that will take this to 200 miles for additional cost.).  FMCA says only that they will tow to the nearest qualified repair center (no clarification on distance or cost).

Lockouts


All of the services will get you in your locked vehicle.  Keys and the cost for making them are extra charges.

Delivery of fuel and other fluids


Good Sam and AAA don't mention this in their information, although I know that AAA will deliver fuel.  FMCA will bring gas, oil or coolant.  Coach-Net will bring gas, oil, water, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid.

Tire changes


They'll all send someone to replace a tire if you have the spare.  If you don't have a tire, the policies are different.  Good Sam's and Coach-Net will try to find you a tire and bring it out, paying only for delivery (Coach-Net has a separate policy that totally covers tire expense and replacement if the tire is damaged by road hazards).   AAA won't find a tire for you - at least they don't say they will.  FMCA will dispatch a "mobile tire service", but it will be towed if a mobile tire service isn't available.  And they specifically state that "mobile tire service is not available in all areas".

Technical Assistance


Good Sam's and Coach-Net offer a service where a qualified RV Tech will talk to you and answer questions on the phone.  Neither AAA or FMCA offer this service. [Update 11/18/17:  FMCA offers technical assistance on the telephone.]

Battery Boosts (Jumping)


They'll all do this.

Services per year


No information from Good Sam's or FMCA [Update 11/18/17:  FMCA's new web site says that use is "unlimited", but that "if it becomes apparent you are not maintaining your vehicles you could be subject to a rate increase"]  AAA says that they'll do four service calls per year, and then charge extra after that.  Coach-Net says that their service calls are "unlimited".


Dispatches a mechanic


All but AAA will do this, although FMCA will only do it if you're more than 50 miles from home.  You'll have to pay for the mechanic, but they'll find one and dispatch one.

Winch out/extraction


Good Sam's doesn't offer this.  Coach-Net will bring winch you out if you're within 100 feet of a roadway.  AAA says they'll do it if you're in a ditch or snow and if they can do it safely.  They'll also bring in a second unit to help, but will only pay for an hour of their time.  FMCA will only winch you  out if you're within 50 feet of a roadway and they'll only pay up to $500.  FMCA also won't do it if it's the result of an accident or if it's down a hillside or an embankment.

Trip Interruption


If you're sidelined because your vehicle is damaged, they all will cover some of your expenses (like lodging, food, and car rental).  Good Sam's will pay you $150 a day up to $1200.  You must be more than 100 miles from home, and one per year is allowed.  Coach-Net will reimburse up to $2000 and you must be more than 100 miles from your home.  AAA will give you only one day of a car rental (if a non-collision tow is needed).  AAA will pay up to $1000 if your travel (in your car, NOT your RV) is interrupted because of a breakdown.  FMCA will pay $300 per day up to $1200 if you're more than 100 miles from home, and you're limited to one reimbursement in a 12-month period.

Conclusions


There are some benefits, like discounts and concierge services, that aren't shown here.  Given all of this information I made the following conclusions.  These are obviously my personal conclusions and preferences - you may feel entirely different.

1. FMCA's coverage lacks in several areas.  And I got a voice mail when I called them.  I'm sure the voice mail was a customer service line; probably not a line you'd call if you were on the side of the road and needed help.  Still, I want better coverage.

Web site:  https://www.fmca.com/benefits/fmca-roadassist.html
Phone:  877-581-8581

2.  Good Sam's has good coverages and a decent price.  But I've heard a lot of stories on Facebook about them raising prices unexpectedly during renewals (not verified).  And I have other issues with the whole Good Sam/Camping World business in general. They also don't offer technical assistance and, based on my experience with the company in general and what other people have told me, are likely to be more difficult to reach and work with than other companies.

Web site:  https://www.goodsamroadside.com/
Phone:  800-601-2850

3.   AAA is simply too expensive.  They also don't offer a couple of the services.  Based on price alone, I have to rule them out.

Web site:  https://autoclubsouth.aaa.com/membership/pluspremierrv.aspx
Phone:  855-652-2245

4.  Coach-Net is the second most expensive, at $149 per year after the first year.  However, their Facebook recommendations are numerous, their coverages are complete and, for the most part, unlimited, and they will cover just about anything you or your family are driving.  Late note:  Someone mentioned on Facebook that Coach-Net may not service all areas of the country, mentioning Maryland in particular.  I would imagine that if they can't service that area, then other companies also have some restrictions.  I couldn't call them today (they're closed), but will follow up and post here when I get an answer.

Web site:  https://coach-net.com/Products/Compare-Motorized-RV-Roadside-Assistance-Products
Phone:  877-801-0333


The winner?  Coach-Net.  Great services and often mentioned and recommended by users.

I hope this helps you make your choice for Roadside Assistance.  Safe travels!!




28 comments:

  1. Thanks, I appreciate the information and all the research and comparison you have done.

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  2. It does thank you I am looking. Good Sam allows you to use the service a limited time a year and they failed to tell me that I used them once a year. 4 times and they drop me and didn't tell me before I was on a trip . Had a engine light come on and called them and was told I wasn't covered although I had a card in my hand saying I was covered 2017 , I paid $300 to have a tech guy come out and take me I could drive it home . A few days later got a email asking me to call GS to talk LOL not way . I am covered with Hartford but they are not equipped to handle class A

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  3. Very interesting compilation. I to did all of this a bit over 15 years ago when we had a pop- up and had WAS and was told after the tow truck came to get our Jeep, that they couldn't tow both rigs. I had RV insurance ,but they had neglected to inform the tow company and then tried to weasel out of it. We finally settled on GS and have had NO problems at all with them. I even have had a tech guy on the line for an hour, before we figgered that the reason my PSD Excursion wouldn't start was that the fuel shutoff switch tripped. I have had three major tows in this service year, one lockout, one fuel and no problem or raise in rates.

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  4. we've had great experiences with Good Sam. We live in Canada so we needed someone who would cover Canada and US. We've used them in both countries and they've been great. Never had any renewal surprises and they've worked very hard to get our issues resolved -- Truck, Car & 5th wheel -- whatever we needed.

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  5. I worked for AAA selling memberships in the midwest. Each AAA membership has different prices in each state or region. Where I am at, the 1st person on the membership is $57, each additional is $21 and to add the RV Plus, which also increases towing is only $30 per year. So the membership for husband and I is $108 and with my son it is $129. That also includes our motorcycle and also does up to 100 miles of towing. There is also an upgraded membership that is new called Platinum and it increases your towing up to 200 miles and it is an addition $25 per year. With AAA you also get trip interruption, so if you have a vehicle breakdown, you can get your hotel covered along with other things.

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    1. I just checked a random AAA site in the midwest (for Nebraska, see https://nebraska.aaa.com/Membership/AAA_Membership_Plans.aspx?intcmp=JoinSEM_JoinSEM_MoreInfo&zip=68007&isFromSEM=Y&link_source=JoinSEM_MoreInfo&from_page=AAA.COM).

      Found that basic membership is $94. Each additional member is $15. They don't say how much to upgrade for a particular RV type (guess you have to call). To upgrade to Platinum, it's not and additional $25/year...it's an additional $50/year. For trip interruption, it seems to only apply if you are traveling in a car. I do see that they cover some legal fees, though. That's something that AAA South didn't mention.

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    2. I'm in Canada...BCAA...and it matches my home province coverage in the USA(i'VE USED IT, AND THE FELLOWS WENT OUT OF THEIR WAY TO GET ME TO A PARK OVERNIGHT(1 TOW)...THEN TO A 'RECOMMENDED' SHOP THE NEXT DAY...ANOTHER TOW...all done with reassurances that the folks would get me back on the road safely(which they did, with some input from me as to what I wanted fixed)>>>>should have done this repair before leaving Canada, following my 'hunches'))

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  6. We have Good Sam. Only used it once, found out that you have make a choice of either mobile service or towing. You don't get both for same call. I don't know if this is the same on the other plans.

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  7. I was AAA and their 4 uses a yr bugged me so I went with Good Sam. 1st year I could be towed anywhere I wanted within reason. After renewal they said not on the renewal because it was costing them too much. We argued 45 min with me on the side of a road a woman alone in the dark with cars flying by very close. Then they said it would take 2 hours to get to me. I went back to AAA and had a good long talk. It is very reasonable and they can get more people out. Good Sam was hunting all over the place and I was in Dallas Tx. What would it have been if I was out in the boonies??

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    Replies
    1. Have you had to use them at all?

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  8. Mike, Good Sam will do winch-outs. As we needed that service.

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  9. This was an excellent article. Thanks for your time and effort. We also went with Coach-Net based on a lot of the same factors you mentioned.

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    1. I've had nothing but Coach Net and have been happy with them for 17 years. Was locked out and they could not help because there was no help available in the area. I ended up breaking a bedroom window. The lady on duty with Coach Net was wonderful. She even tried to get the police out to help and they refused.

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  10. The Good Sam's policy states:

    FLAT TIRE SERVICE
    A service technician will replace a flat tire with your inflated spare, or we’ll
    tow your vehicle to the nearest professional service center. On occasion and
    whenever possible, we will make arrangements for the Member to purchase
    a tire(s) for delivery to the disablement scene. In these cases Good Sam
    Roadside Assistance will pay for delivery of tire only, member is responsible
    for all additional costs including cost of tire(s), mounting, balancing, other
    parts or labor, tax and any other fees. Note: This benefit does not include
    seasonal tire changes. Member is responsible for all parts and labor.

    Anticipating a fun weekend of camping, I encountered a flat upon arriving at our RV storage facility.

    OK, minor problem, got GNS, called dispatcher who would not initiate service call without hitting my CC for over $90. Then, waited two hours for service truck to arrive.

    Technician totally competent, diagnosed a faulty valve core stem, tire tech replaced stem, aired tire. Technician related that a significant number of interstate, tractor-trailer calls were because of the same malady, a faulty valve core stem, who knew.

    Although the tech worked no longer, and with less effort, than replacing our 22-1/2 with an "inflated spare" (like any of us carry a spare), Good Neighbor(?) Sam will not reimburse me for the expense.

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  11. I have been with AAA for years with all of their services. I just added the RV service. I have used AAA to plan trips all over the world and have used their maps and tours books for free. The will do a route strip map for you with all of the sites along the way. I just wanted to include this info because it is a service that wasn't mentioned. The times I have needed a tow they have been very helpful.

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    Replies
    1. Agree. AAA towing services are great. We also use their free trip planning, maps and tour books as well as the discounted major attraction tickets. AAA price may be higher, but this is a case where you get what you pay for.

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    2. I have had AAA for years and yet, when I was 5 miles from the freeway on a dirt road they refused to come because I was on dirt. "We don't do dirt" they said. the county Sheriff advised that if it were him he would "just drive out on the flat." So I drove out on the flat, got to the freeway, called AAA, gjot a random tow truck who would not fix the flat--but would tow me to town. (but, because it was now late afternoon no shops would be open.) So, I told him to air up the flat with 35lbs of air and get out of the way. He did, and I drove like a bat out of hell and went to the bottom of the hill, refilled @ a station, headed for Cottonwood and Walmart. One other refill stop and finally, as the doors were closing in the tire shop, got to walmart. Had to buy a new tire, but they put it on and I got safely home that night.

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  12. We pay $87 year for AAA Plus RV. My husband and I in Michigan. We have s 26' fifth wheel. We also have our tow vehicle insured with them. Member since the mid-1970's. A motor home would be more expensive since it's an all in one unit I suppose. Discounts depend on age, driving record, number of things insured, etc. also Zmichigan has that nasty MCCA insurance industry extortion fee for every vehicle.

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  13. Great job on research, but please post the speadsheet, it's so much easier to compare that way...

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    1. I'd do that, Fred, but these blogs don't let me (easily) post separate files. And embedding the spreadsheet in this format (the blog's template) is difficult.

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  14. We have AAA and found out they would not tow our 5th wheel because it was a 3 axel...even though we were paying for the RV package.

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  15. We have AAA also and had used up the service calls that was alloted to us and after that we was on our own. We had to Google for road assistance to find a towing service. The money we paid for the tow equalled out to be around the same for 3 service calls membership, go figure.

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. In 2016 I broke down in Beatty, NV. I drive a truck with a slide in camper and had AAA's Plus coverage. They refused to tow me because I didn't have the RV add on so I asked if I could add that to my plan. I was told yes but would have to wait 4 days before it would "take effect". At that point I had been with AAA for 30 years and they were willing to leave me stranded. After that I decided to give Good Sam a try. Their "unlimited miles" are not what they seem because it is unlimited to where they decide you will be towed to not the shop of your choice even when there was only a 20 mile difference between the two and neither were more than 50 miles.
    Thanks for the good information this helps in the decision making.

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  18. Can we get the spreadsheet either as a PDF or actual spreadsheet or both? For personal updating, it would be nice and I am a visual guy.

    Another point/question is about ancillary benefits [though I know that is not the topic of this post]. Most of these clubs offer other things. FMCA has a campground not too far from me where you can stay some for free. There's trip planning services, chapters, etc. I wonder about all those other services. Anyone know of blogs/posts/etc that compare clubs as to services? We are already Life Members of Good Sam, but Good Sam has been neglected somewhat over the years I think.

    Lastly, I wonder if some [like the campground discount clubs] are better in one region or another. We are in Kentucky....

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  19. Enjoy taking advantage of Motor Club of America's many health and travel discounts on services such as hotels, rental cars, vision, and dental. We have a network of the largest brands in those respective industries. Our perks will allow you to save hundreds on everday purchase items. Save hundreds of dollars a year by booking with any of our rental car agencies or hotel chains.
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    ReplyDelete
  20. Enjoy taking advantage of Motor Club of America's many health and travel discounts on services such as hotels, rental cars, vision, and dental. We have a network of the largest brands in those respective industries. Our perks will allow you to save hundreds on everday purchase items. Save hundreds of dollars a year by booking with any of our rental car agencies or hotel chains.
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    ReplyDelete