Driving the roads in the Prairie Provinces can be treacherous – especially when these roads experience winter for seven months of the year. I take long drives from Winnipeg to Saskatoon, which is around 800 km, and there are very few places to take shelter in case something ever were to happen to your car. Everyone I know seems to have CAA, so I thought I would try it for a year.
I made the decision to join CAA when I started to make the journey to see my girlfriend in the beginning of February. It was around –40 degrees Celsius outside – not including the wind-chill. I pulled over after driving 200 km into a town and thought about that “48-hour window” CAA had in order for your vehicle to get towed (which translates to “You can’t get towed until 48 hours after your membership purchase”). Seeing how I had 56 hours until I made the trip back again, I signed up for CAA from my phone. I wasn’t covered on my way there, but at least I had peace of mind on my way back. I didn’t fully discover the benefits until I got my membership package in the mail.
Types of Membership
There are three types of membership: Classic, Plus, and Premier. The Classic membership tows only up to 5 km, which is great for breakdowns in the city, but not for rural driving. The Premier package tows up to 320 km, but that is a little excessive for what I need. I settled on signing up for the Plus package, which gets me up to 160 km for a tow and free fuel delivery if I ever run empty (happened once due to a broken fuel gauge). The big feature is that CAA is your big brother when you hit the ditch, or run out of fuel or get a flat tire. I am capable of changing my own tire, and shovelling myself out of the ditch, but I usually am not dressed for it. Not only that, but also I don’t carry around the good tools it takes to get the job done.
The Emergency Road Side Assistance is the best feature they have and you can call them up to four times per membership year (charges apply for additional calls). Their mobile app even has a giant red button that takes up most of the screen to press in the event you need them. You can also get battery boosts, spare-tire changes, and fuel-delivery service. Another nice feature is that they will come and help you get into your car in case you lock your keys inside. Before you start laughing, remember it happens to everyone eventually; I’ve been told it happens more when you have kids.
Having a CAA membership also gives you access to all sorts of discounts, which vary by province. The main ones are car rentals, fuel, satellite-radio subscriptions, and hotels. If you are a frequent traveller needing all of those then these savings can really add up since most discounts are around 10%.
Not Just Automotive Coverage
CAA also has all kinds of insurance that I wasn’t aware of when I initially signed up. These will vary by province, I bet; but the ones I found are:
- Home & Property Insurance
- Travel Health
- Health and Dental
- Life Insurance
- Critical Illness
- Personal Accident
- Travel/Trip Accident
- Home Safety
- And again – locksmith service
For almost all of these, they recommend going in to talk to someone to get a personalised quote because there is no “one size fits all” package. I’m not at the life stage where I need excessive amounts of insurance, since I don’t have a family to worry about. I also don’t have any loyalty to my current insurance broker; they just happened to be in the same parking lot as the liquor store.
Why Worry? I Have CAA!
The peace of mind alone is well worth the 31¢ a day that the $113 annual membership fee boils down to. Whenever I travel, I know I’ll have someone to call to bail me out, anywhere in North America! I should also add that this coverage follows me around, not my car. If I’m with a friend and their car breaks down, I can use my coverage to help them out. If I didn’t have this service and had car trouble, I would surely be kicking myself, especially if it’s -40.
Readers – What are your thoughts? Do you have CAA? Do you use them for all of your insurance needs?