UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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The American Automobile Association, known as “AAA” for short, is not only an insurance company. As a non-profit organization made up of clubs across the country, members join this organization to open up different insurance options and travel services to them – including, of course, auto insurance.
History of AAA
In 1902, several motor clubs banded together to deal with a lack of roads that were suitable for cars. These clubs were the Chicago Automobile Club, Automobile Club of America, Automobile Club of New Jersey, Long Island Automobile Club, Rhode Island Automobile Club, Philadelphia Automobile Club, Princeton University Automobile Club, Automobile Club of Utica, and Grand Rapids Automobile Club – and together, they form what we know today as the AAA. AAA then merged with the American Motor League, which had been formed in 1895, but retained their current name.
Originally, AAA only offered driver’s training, road maps, and hotel guides. It wasn’t until the 1960s that they started selling insurance and started expanding into other travel-related services.
Still, their expansion did not veer them off course from their main goal: improving roads, helping travelers, and increasing safety (with things such as traffic safety programs taught in schools). Notably, AAA’s traffic safety programs have helped equip teens and young drivers with the know-how to keep themselves safe on the dangerous roads.
American Automobile Association – Differentiating Factors
As it is not strictly an insurance company, AAA provides customers with many more benefits and services beyond just auto insurance. Now, they offer things such as passport photos, travel maps, travelers insurance, and travelers’ checks (in addition to insurance policies).
Although their insurance premium discounts might not be as enticing as other dedicated insurance companies, it is worth noting that AAA’s discounts are not restricted to only insurance rates; they provide discounts on many other items and services, such as lowered hotel rates for stays at their partner-hotels.
The key differentiating factor is that AAA offers roadside assistance, and is found all over the United States. Today, AAA’s roadside assistance is so easily accessible that “calling Triple A” is equivalent to “calling roadside assistance.” People who travel a lot, particularly across state lines or out of the country, should use AAA for their insurance because of the specific options that are available for travelers.
Is AAA a Good Car Insurance Company? Our Review
AAA is one of America’s most popular car insurance companies. While AAA doesn’t have the low costs of some of its cheaper competitors, it offers more features than most other major car insurance providers – including one of the best roadside assistance programs in the United States.
Generally, drivers are happy to get car insurance through AAA – especially if you appreciate features like roadside assistance, which can quickly pay for itself with one mishap.
In terms of advantages, drivers across the United States enjoy excellent roadside assistance service with AAA as well as multiple membership discounts, including discounts on hotels, cheaper travel booking, cheap movie tickets, low-cost car rentals, cheap prescriptions, and more.
In terms of disadvantages, drivers with new vehicles that are not prone to breakdowns may not feel like they’re getting their money’s worth with AAA: the company tends to charge higher insurance premiums than its competitors while offering extended benefits. If you own a new vehicle that isn’t expected to breakdown any time soon, then you may feel like you’re paying too much for car insurance.
Some AAA customers also complain that AAA discounts aren’t as powerful as they used to be. Hotels might offer AAA-style discounts even if you’re not a AAA member, for example. Those who are involved with other organizations or programs may qualify for the same discounts. In other words, it’s not quite as useful to have AAA as it once was.
Financial solvency is a crucial part of shopping for car insurance. In that category, AAA is one of the best. AAA Auto Insurance has an A+ rating with A.M. Best, which is the main agency in charge of ranking car insurance companies by their financial solvency.
J.D. Power, the main ranking organization for car insurance companies, also typically awards high ratings to AAA. AAA ranked third in a 2016 J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey, for example. Only two other car insurance companies in the United States had better claims satisfaction than AAA.
One of the main reasons to get AAA auto insurance, however, is for the roadside assistance. Today, most car insurance companies offer some type of roadside assistance at an added cost, although AAA might be the best at it. AAA’s roadside assistance will arrive at your vehicle, tow it to a certified repair shop nearby (AAA has a list of repair shops), and even contact a family member on your behalf. Furthermore, AAA will automatically complete a vehicle claim for the incident and arrange for a rental car while your car is in the shop. Drivers who want the best possible roadside assistance may be willing to pay an extra premium for AAA.
It’s important to note that only AAA members can buy AAA car insurance. If you want AAA car insurance, then you’ll need to have an active AAA membership (priced at $50 to $100 per year, depending on your plan). Obviously, you will need to pay car insurance premiums on top of this fee. If you cancel your membership or fail to pay your membership fees, then you will also lose your car insurance coverage.
Additionally, some AAA members will need to have their cars physically inspected by a AAA representative before the company extends car insurance coverage.
What Do The Customers Have To Say About AAA?
AAA has fairly positive reviews from customers. They have a “good” rating of 3.3 out of 5 stars on Consumer Affairs and 3.4 out of 5 stars from WalletHub. The higher ratings are usually given for their extensive coverage.
Indeed, customers say they have good roadside assistance but that their insurance rates are higher than other companies. There are also complaints that they don’t always have great customer service representatives.
Reviews state that AAA’s roadside assistance coverage is great for roadside-annoyances such as a flat tire or for opening cars with the keys locked inside. So while customers lament their high insurance rates, AAA’s excellent roadside assistance service more than makeup for its higher insurance premiums.
Final Word On AAA
Ultimately, AAA is one of the best car insurance companies in the United States. However, the company’s superior claims satisfaction comes at a price: AAA car insurance policies tend to be more expensive than many competing companies. Of course, some AAA policyholders are happy to pay slightly higher car insurance premiums for vastly superior customer service. Plus, many AAA policyholders also appreciate the emergency roadside service, which is often seen as the best roadside assistance program in the country. Plus, you can lower the costs of AAA insurance by taking advantage of discounts or bundling your car insurance with AAA’s home and life insurance.