AAA-motorcycle-towing-review-ins-and-outs

How To: What I Wish I Knew About AAA Motorcycle Towing

This is from my first-hand experience from yesterday using my AAA (Triple-A) premier membership to get my motorcycle towed in Los Banos, California. I was 80 miles from my house when my bike started to show signs of overheating. Being far from home and not wanting to risk damaging my 2015 Kawasaki 300 I called for a tow home.

I am an AAA Premier member, and when I bought my motorcycle I had called them to ask about motorcycle towing. They told me that my motorcycle was covered the same as my car and that my same AAA roadside assistance applied. Make sure you are a AAA premier member if you want motorcycle towing assistance from them. 

If you’re a classic or plus AAA member they will not tow a motorcycle any distance. However, what I came to learn is that even if you are a Premier member AAA does a pretty poor job of towing motorcycles. This is because they do not contract with enough tow companies that offer motorcycle towing, and therefore you will most likely spend hours waiting for a tow truck to take your call. After hours of waiting they may likely tell you, “they cannot find you a tow,” and will likely tell you to go commercial (pay out of pocket) and that you can request reimbursement.

Only AAA Premier Members Have Motorcycle Coverage:

AAA motorcycle towing review tricks and tips
As of 2018 their pricing for Premier Membership w/motorcycle assistance

Make sure to call AAA and upgrade your membership from classic or plus to premier (the most expensive plan) if you want your motorcycle to be covered for tows.

Even though I had a bad experience with them, I do not know of any other coverage that comes close to the price of triple a versus the coverage.

I wish there was an option that was better for motorcycles, but at this point, I haven’t found it personally. From a quick search, another company called AMA (American Motorcycle Association) seems to also offer a tow plan that is competitive with AAA. However, for the purposes of this post, I will only be talking about AAA motorcycle towing– since I have personal experience from them.

The issue isn’t that AAA won’t cover you if you need motorcycle towing, it is that they oftentimes cannot find a towing company with which they have a contract with that will come to pick you up. In my opinion, this is due to undertrained tow company providers who are underpaid by AAA for services they deem to be riskier (like motorcycles).

Arguably, it does take more training to tie down a motorcycle safely and load it onto a flatbed than a car (and many tow truck drivers have never done it,) therefore they flat out refuse. 

So, while there may be fifteen tow companies in a nearby radius, AAA may only be contracted with five of them. Of those five tow companies remaining, there is like a 5 percent chance that one of them will have a driver that knows how to load and tie down a motorcycle on a flatbed.

AAA Will Try Their Hardest To Avoid Telling You They Can’t Help:

AAA-motorcycle-tow-tricks-and-tips
Can’t tow a motorcycle on a flatbed truck, huh?

This is my biggest problem with the AAA motorcycle tow program. They know they lack providers that will tow motorcycles, yet they do not make this clear when you first call. You’ll be left waiting, with little communication (or in my case zero communication) while they try desperately to call all their providers. 

What happens if you are in an unsafe area?

If your phone is about to die?

Do you have three hours to wait for a phone call to tell you they can’t find anyone?

Luckily, I was able to have a friend come to pick me up and I was able to sit and wait in her car with a cell phone charger handy.

Had my phone died it would have been a much worse scenario. I would have been literally stuck on the side of the road thinking AAA was coming for me (like they had said) with no idea that they were unable to find a tow truck driver.

I called for a tow at 2 p.m., on a Tuesday in a fairly busy area (right off Interstate 5 in California). One would think my chances of getting a tow would be very high. 

The woman on the phone who took my initial call told me that I would get text updates on the status of my call and that a tow-truck should arrive within 50 minutes.

She did mention, however, that because it was a longer tow (83 miles to be exact) that it may take them a little longer to find someone.

Where AAA Failed To Provide Top Level Service– Communication:

I waited and waited.

I used AAA for a lockout service less than a month ago, and they had been super prompt on sending me text updates. Within a minute of getting off the phone with the initial dispatcher, I received a text that a tow truck was on its way to me. With the tow on my motorcycle, I got nothing past the initial text that they would keep me posted.

Around 3 pm (an hour of waiting) I decided to call and ask for an update since I had received zero text messages or calls from any tow truck driver or AAA representative.

The representative told me they were having trouble finding a tow company, but that the dispatcher was currently working on it. They told me to just wait longer, and they would keep me updated.

I requested that they keep me posted, that I had received no communication from them.

Around another hour passed, and still no word from AAA.

I call again. This time they keep saying they’re still looking and that they’re calling companies all around and all the companies are saying they’re not equipped to tow a motorcycle.

She mentioned they had already called around 16 tow companies and were close to exhausting their options.

Hearing this, I requested that she have the supervisor call me back as soon as possible, and she said she would.

I waited another 30 minutes and never received any call from any supervisor.

To be honest, at this point I am pretty upset with how they are handling the situation. This is like my fifth call, and they haven’t called or texted me once to update me on their status.

This saga of just getting my motorcycle towed had now been over 2 hours of waiting and being on the phone, only to be told that they had “exhausted their list of contracted tow companies.”

I left my motorcycle parked in a nice person’s driveway and began leaving town with a friend figuring I had to make the two-hour trip back in the morning to pick the bike up. Which would mean another day wasted dealing with what should’ve been an easy tow, and now having to find someone to borrow a truck and a ramp from.

Then I get a call from AAA, on my way out of town after having decided to leave the motorcycle. They say one of their tow providers had called them back and said he could be there in thirty minutes. They ask if I want to do it, and I say yes lets go.

He arrives. We load the bike in like 20 minutes. It is almost effortless to load it on the flatbed, and he is off in less than 20 minutes. We leave for my house a little over three hours after my initial call for service from AAA.

AAA Contracted Tow Companies Lack Training to Tow Motorcycles Not Equipment:

AAA works great for cars, trucks, even probably RV’s. Think again if you think that a tow company that can handle your big truck could obviously easily handle a motorcycle.

Tow companies seem to be ill-equipped or lacking in training to deal with motorcycles.

What follows are my own personal opinions on towing companies that have flatbed trucks claiming they don’t have the equipment to tow a 367lb wet motorcycle.

On the subject of towing companies not having the proper equipment to tow a motorcycle.

If you’re a tow company that has flat beds you can tow motorcycles. That is a simple truth. Just google search flatbed motorcycle tow. Then, tell me that it isn’t an accepted practice worldwide.

If you refuse to tow motorcycles on the basis of not having the equipment that is a poor excuse. At least be honest and say it is because your tow truck drivers are not trained to tow motorcycles. 

Every tow truck company that was contracted with AAA would say they “didn’t have the proper equipment,” despite having flatbed trucks and more straps than anyone could ask for. 

I confirmed this stupidity with the tow truck driver from AAA that did end up towing me.

“They said what?” he asked when I told him AAA told me that fifteen companies had said they couldn’t tow a motorcycle.

That I had been waiting for three hours before he accepted their call.

“That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard,” he said shaking his head.

“I know how to tow a motorcycle because I own one, but it is frigging easy,” he laughed.

“They’re easy to tow,” he repeated again shaking his head in frustration.

“Yeah, what a joke,” I responded laughing at how much of a joke the last three hours had been.

How To Get Towed On A Motorcycle From AAA:

  1. Make sure you are a premier member first, or your motorcycle will not be covered.
  2. Call the AAA hotline 1-800-222-4357 and put in your request for a motorcycle tow.
  3. Tell them you want an update in a half hour by phone or you will be calling back to speak with a supervisor.
  4. Ask them to be honest whether or not they will be able to find a service provider or not. Tell them you know they have problems finding motorcycle towing companies, and you want honest clear communication.
  5. Request a supervisor immediately if they don’t find you a tow within 30 minutes. Otherwise, they will keep you waiting, in the hopes that one of the companies they called will accept the tow. 
  6. If no towing company will accept AAA’s towing request, then have them note on your file that they have “failed to provide a tow.” It helps to always record your phone calls for your own records with them. 
  7. You may now call around and ask private companies for a motorcycle tow, pay out of pocket, and fill out/print this reimbursement form
    • For my motorcycle tow of only 83 miles the private companies wanted $700, so I opted to not take the chance of not being reimbursed by triple-a. They will not guarantee you reimbursement, and only vaguely tell you that if they have failed you then you should file for reimbursement.
  8. If you want you can also stay where you are as a premier member and get a hotel/lodging paid for by AAA. However, this is also done on a reimbursement type basis and you will have to pay it out of pocket. I do not the specifics of whether they will cover your stay or not, make sure to ask them directly.

Being Informed Means You’ll Get Better Treatment:

My main tip to getting towed fast is to know how triple-a works by reading this post and using it to your advantage. I didn’t know that they were desperately searching for a tow company to accept a motorcycle and that the chance they found one was very slim. 

As soon as I knew they were having trouble finding a contracted triple a provider that would tow motorcycle I started calling local tow companies. I would ask them who in their area was contracted with AAA and I would call them directly.

Knowing what I know now, and how easy it is to load a motorcycle on a flatbed I would have suggested that I will be there to help load the motorcycle, I will sign off on any damage from loading the motorcycle, and that I have years of experience loading bikes on trucks.

Say whatever is true to you at that moment, be honest. If you can convince one of those companies to take the call from AAA, then you will be covered by AAA.

Call tow companies yourself, speak to them, and try to convince them that they can handle towing a motorcycle. I was just short of asking them to let me strap it down for them, and I will accept any and all liability if something happens to the motorcycle.

ANY FLATBED TRUCK CAN TOW A MOTORCYCLE!

If they tell you they aren’t equipped, ask them politely what the real reason is and try to work it out with them. Offer a cash tip to the driver ($20-40 or more).

Make sure you stay on them and keep calling them to check the status. Always ask to speak to a supervisor, and if you can record the phone calls audio for your records (they do). Be polite, but ask them to tell you the truth. 

Some Good Questions To Ask Your AAA Representative:

  1. How likely are they to find a tow for a motorcycle in your area?
  2. How many companies have they reached out to already?
  3. Remind them that they told you-you were covered for motorcycle towing. If they say they cannot find a service provider for you at this time, then make them state that they have failed. That way you can clearly show when you file for reimbursement that you gave them a fair shot, but they failed to meet your expectations.
    • Make sure they note in your file that they have failed to provide you service. This will help when you request reimbursement if you have to pay out of pocket for a tow. 

Remember Triple-A Wants To Save Money And Wants To Find The Cheapest Tow:

They do not have your best interest in mind when it comes to motorcycle towing. They simply want to find the cheapest tow possible, and they will only stay within their contracted towers who rarely will accept motorcycles.

That is their problem that they need to figure out.

If they’re going to market Premier membership as including motorcycle towing, they need to work harder to train tow truck drivers to tow motorcycles. Part of that really is just convincing these tow companies that they can do it. That they really just need to watch a couple of YouTube videos to learn how to load a motorcycle on a flatbed.

The Verdict:

All you have to do is search flatbed tow motorcycle. Looks to me like a lot of tow truck drivers have figured out how to do it!

AAA is about the only roadside option you have a motorcyclist. You should talk to your insurance company and ask what kind of tow services they provide.

Make sure to ask if they will tow to a residential address, or if they will only tow to a repair shop.

Also ask what their maximum tow distance is, and how many contractors they have covering the area you typically ride in. You want to know all of these factors because any one of them can be the difference between choosing what roadside assistance provider you choose.

For me, I have Geico motorcycle insurance and they offer extra roadside assistance for motorcycles for an added fee.

However, I realized I didn’t want it when they told me they only tow up to like 60 miles and they will only tow to a repair shop. That is way too limiting for me.

Final Tips for Getting Motorcycle Towing Through AAA:

  1. If you’re in an unsafe area call 911 and request help. Don’t risk your life on the side of the road.
  2. Record your phone calls with AAA in case you need reimbursement. They record your calls, so I recommend you do as well.
    • Do not get mad with them, be polite.
    •  Remind them you expect to be updated at least every 30 minutes of waiting and preferably by a Supervisor.
  3. If/When they refuse you service make sure they note it in your file.
    • Ask them, did you note that you failed to meet my tow needs in my claim?
  4. If you do decide to pay someone out of pocket (“Go commercial,” as AAA calls it) to tow your motorcycle be sure the receipt is in the name of whoever has a AAA valid membership. You must also keep the original receipt, and file your claim within 60 days of the service charged.
    • Click here for the reimbursement .pdf file. Make sure to read that before you decide to go commercial so you can check all their boxes and not give them a reason to not reimburse you.
    • Always ask for a full reimbursement, they give you the option to request only a certain amount.
  5.  Ask to speak with the supervisor.
    • For me it feels weird, to be that annoying customer that is asking for the Supervisor. But honestly once the supervisor got involved the real story started to come out. He admitted it was very unlikely they were going to find someone, whereas no one else would tell me that.
  6. Don’t be afraid to let your frustrations out, just try not to swear at them personally and don’t blame the representative. They’re trying their best to find you a tow, it is simply a broken system.
    • The tow truck companies that are contracted by AAA are lacking in quality and training, and hopefully, that will change. AAA needs to ensure that these companies hire drivers that are comfortable towing motorcycles, and offer them training on doing so. The program of towing motorcycle for AAA is new and definitely not supported by their contracted tow companies.
  7. Take pictures of your bike and any damage on it before being loaded onto the tow truck.
  8. Call the contracted tow companies from AAA and try to convince them to tow your motorcycle. I would try suggesting you will help with loading and strapping it down. That you will sign off on any damage liability the driver has before the tow. I don’t know what will work, but any tow truck company that has a flatbed can tow a motorcycle. They simply refuse to do it.
  9. The tow truck driver may need help tieing down the motorcycle.
    • The tow truck driver asked me to use the controls on the truck to raise him up with the bike. He showed me the nob and told me when to raise it. That was cool for two reasons. I got to run the controls on a tow truck which was pretty cool, and it also made his life much easier loading the bike.
People often have their toolboxes towed on flatbeds. I would imagine that is a lot harder than towing a motorcycle! I digress.

No One Can Speak Up For You Like Yourself:

Don’t expect the red carpet treatment if you have motorcycle towing through AAA, even if you are a premier member. 

It is more like an awkward corporate slow dance where no one really knows what is going on. 

Be patient, make sure you’re safe and remember you really have to be your own advocate. 

 

 

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