What is roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance is a service that assists the driver physically and financially in the event of a
breakdown. These services or memberships are usually offered for an annual fee.
It offers two main advantages:
First, the memeber receives emergency road services if their car breaks down. Service may include
delivering fuel, changing a flat tire or being towed to a service center if the problem cannot be resolved
Second, roadside assistance helps reduce the cost of unforeseen roadsie emergencies. As with auto insurance,
roadside assistance policyholders pay a fee or premium to the service provider. In case of damage, the
driver does not need to pay for the emergency services he receives as long as it is within the policy
limits. As an illustration, if your car breaks down and needs to be towed to a repair shop. If your
roadside assistance plan includes a tow, you tow will be free.
What is covered by roadside assistance?
If you choose roadside assistance, the following protections may be included:
- Transport assistance for trapped drivers and passengers
- Start battery jump
- Gas delivery
- Lockout service
- Change tires
- Winch to release stuck vehicles
How is Roadside Assistance different from other types of coverage?
Roadside Assistance is different from other types of coverage that you can get through car insurance or
a manufacturer’s warranty. Car insurance usually only covers the cost of repairing
accidental damage, emergency measures are not provided. The warranty will repair or replace damaged
parts of your new vehicle, but flat tires and empty gas tanks will not be covered under a vehicle warranty.
Please note that you can often purchase a breakdown assistance plan from your car insurance company or
car manufacturer in addition to your current service. You benefit from convenience and cost savings
when you combine roadside assistance with multiple services from the same provider. Make sure you
shop around before getting a plan to see if you’re getting the best price and service.
Why is roadside assistance important?
Imagine: you are driving in an unknown location at night when suddenly you hear the sound of tires
cracking and hissing. Without roadside assistance, you’ll be standing on the side of the road trying to
change tires yourself in the dark. However, if you have roadside assistance, help is just a call away.
A professional will be immediately dispatched to your location to rescue you and your car.
The three most common types of roadside assistance calls are low battery, flat tire and blockage.
Many suppliers also offer other useful emergency services, such as delivery of fuel when you run out of gas.
If your car cannot be driven, the damage assistance program may cover all or part of the cost of towing
you at the nearest gas station. Without roadside assistance, that price alone could easily run into the
hundreds of dollars out of pocket.
Everyone should consider roadside assistance, but this is an even more important service for the
- Elderly people
- Young driver and new driver’s license
- Parents with babies or toddlers
- Anyone with a physical disability
- Older vehicle drivers (than 12 years)
- People living in remote areas
- Travelers who drive more than 20 miles a day
- Travelers who frequently travel long distances
Where can I get roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance is an optional form of insurance. There are several ways to get help along the way.
Consider the following coverage areas:
Car Insurance: One of the easiest ways to get roadside assistance is through your car insurance. It can
be added to your monthly contribution. Some carriers may even include roadside assistance as part of a
full car insurance package.
Member Organizations: Organizations like AAA and Good Sam specialize in roadside assistance. AAA
alone has 61 million members. Membership may include other benefits such as travel and DMV services.
Car Manufacturer: If you are planning to buy a new or certified used car, you can get free roadside
assistance during the warranty period. Honda’s roadside assistance took three years or 36,000 miles. Kia
is 60 months to 60,000 miles.
Credit Card Companies: There are premium credit cards that offer cardholders 24/7 travel assistance.
Visa offers damage protection for a flat fee of $69.95 per service. Mastercard’s RoadAssist Service offers
services for a pre-agreed fee.
This is how you decide which roadside assistance program is best for you.
With so many roadside assistance programs available, you can decide which one is right for you. Price is
an important factor, but it shouldn’t be the only one you consider. The Roadside Assistance program
offers various levels of coverage and additional features worth considering.
Although more expensive, self-damage insurance from providers like AAA and AARP offers a long list of
benefits that are well worth the price. For example, AAA offers identity theft, travel
discounts, vehicle inspections, and assistance with member registration. AARP also offers travel
discounts, as well as providing emergency coverage if you are arrested or hospitalized while driving, as
well as travel interruption coverage.
Roadside assistance is available from many auto insurance providers and convenience is key. Roadside
assistance may be added to your existing car insurance policy or purchased when purchasing a new policy.
The fees are nominal and the benefits are usually good. Keep this in mind when buying auto insurance
and ask specifically about limits on roadside assistance.
The cheapest roadside assistance programs are usually the ones that come with your credit card. It’s a
good idea to find out if any cards you already have qualify for free roadside assistance if you need it.
Don’t rely on it as your only source of roadside emergency care. These plan limits are very low and you
can still pay most of your service bills out of your pocket.
Accidents and Exceptions
Roadside assistance is good for non life-threatening emergencies where you are stuck on the side of the
road. In the event of an accident, call 911 immediately.
You also need to find out where the roadside benefits end.
For example, if your car breaks down and
needs to be towed, your roadside assistance will usually cover the towing costs, then cost of the repair is your
responsibility. It’s a good idea to invest money in an emergency car repair fund every month, whether you have roadside
assistance or not.