Hitting the Road? Make Sure You Have Roadside Assistance

The 2020 coronavirus crisis has brought air travel to a screeching halt across the globe. Government restrictions and international border closures have prevented passengers from flying overseas, sapping demand for flight bookings.

This doesn’t mean, however, that people can no longer go on vacation. They can still travel domestically by going on a road trip. Many, in fact, chose to hit the road. A survey published in Travel Agent Central revealed that much of the U.S. population preferred road trips and beach vacations in 2020.

If you’re planning to go on a road trip to relax at the beach or go on a nature vacation this year, you’ll need to take extra precautions. This isn’t just limited to wearing a mask and practicing social distancing measures. You also need to have roadside assistance coverage in the event of an emergency.

What is Roadside Assistance?

Stuck or stranded in the middle of nowhere? Don’t wait for a Good Samaritan. Contact your roadside assistance service provider instead. | Photo by Brecht Denil on Unsplash

This term refers to add-on coverage that will come to your rescue should your car break down, encounter a vehicular accident or find yourself stranded.

Many companies have roadside assistance agents on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Getting this assistance is as easy as calling the roadside help number of your chosen service provider.

Benefits of Roadside Assistance

Some motorists opt out of purchasing road service coverage. One reason is that they can always ask for help from other motorists when their vehicle breaks down without warning.

Roadside help coverage, however, can be incredibly useful for drivers.

Here are the advantages of having this type of coverage with you at all times:

Inexpensive to Own

Depending on where you buy roadside assistance, you could get this coverage for just a few dollars a month. This translates to less than $100 per year for round-the-clock road service.

The risk of not purchasing a roadside assistance policy may outweigh the expense you pay upfront on vehicle-related services, such as car towing service. A single tow, for instance, may cost you more than what you’re paying for a year of complete road service coverage.

Convenient and Fast

Roadside assistance gives you vital access to car-related services quickly and conveniently. Whether you need someone to tow you out of a ditch, bring you gas or fix a flat tire, you can count on your service provider to help you when you’re in trouble.

Safety

An inoperable vehicle isn’t just inconvenient. It’s also a safety issue. You could be in big trouble if you’re alone and stuck somewhere. You’ll also have a huge problem on your hands if the nearest gas station, rest area or city is several miles away.

Having road assistance coverage means that you don’t have to wait for a Good Samaritan to give you a helping hand.

What Does Roadside Assistance Cover?

Motorists who locked themselves out of their car can call roadside assistance and request a car lockout service. | Photo by Nordic Overdrive from Pexels

Roadside services usually vary depending on the provider and the plan you purchase. Some of the common services you’ll find are the following:

Fuel Delivery Service

Running out of fuel is one of the worst things that can happen on the road, especially when you miss your flight because of it. A roadside assistance service provider will deliver sufficient gas to get you to the nearest fuel station. The provider may use the local pump price if they charge for the gas delivery separately.

Winching or Extrication Service

This involves moving your car when it’s stuck somewhere. The road assistance company may impose extra charges if the situation requires more than one truck or service professional to dislodge your vehicle.

Towing Service

Your service provider will take your vehicle to the nearest mechanic or auto shop up to a specified distance. The roadside assistance company will charge additional fees if you need your car towed past the limit mentioned in the policy.

Lockout and Locksmith Service

The service is for motorists who lock themselves out of the car and accidentally leave their keys inside the vehicle. Lockout service providers will attempt to unlock the door of the car using a long-reach tool or a pump wedge. If that fails, the provider will reach out to a locksmith.

Battery Jumpstart Service

The vehicle won’t go anywhere if its battery is out of juice. You can call for roadside assistance to have a professional jumpstart your car’s battery.

Flat Tire Service

One of the most common causes of flat tires is a puncture from a sharp object, such as glass, metal shards and nails. When you have road assistance coverage, you can get professionals to replace your flat tire with your spare.

How to Get Roadside Assistance Coverage

Some credit card companies provide pay-per-incident roadside assistance to cardholders. | Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

You have a lot of options to choose from when you’re shopping for a nationwide road assistance plan. Some of your choices are the following:

Auto Insurance Firms

Car insurers usually provide roadside assistance as optional coverage. Even if it’s available, you could only take advantage of it when you purchase comprehensive and collision insurance. Some plans may pay for only four incidents per year. Others offer unlimited service coverage.

Credit Card Companies

Some credit card issuers offer pay-per-incident roadside assistance coverage. This means that you need to pay each time you use this service, but won’t incur periodic charges if you never use this benefit.

The price of the service will depend on the specific you carry. Visa credit cardholders, for instance, can request road assistance for $69.95 per incident.

Car Manufacturers

Car companies usually throw in complimentary roadside assistance coverage when you buy a new vehicle. Coverage is typically limited to a certain number of miles or years.

Hyundai, for instance, offers free coverage for the first five years from the date of your car purchase. Ford, on the other hand, provides free road service coverage for five years or up to 60,000 miles whichever occurs first.

Cell Phone Companies

Some telecommunications providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, offer emergency road service coverage.

AT&T charges $2.99 for roadside assistance with the first month free of charge. You’re limited to four claims per year. Also, the maximum benefit per incident is $75.

On the other hand, Verizon’s road service plan costs three dollars per month per phone line. You’re limited to four service events a year. The maximum benefit per incident will depend on the requested service. Winching, for instance, comes with a service limit of $100.

Standalone Emergency Roadside Assistance Providers

Another option is to pick standalone providers that specialize in emergency roadside assistance. Although they may cost more than other road service providers, they come with advantages you won’t see in other types of plans.

Membership organizations, such as Better World Club and the American Automobile Organization (AAA), provide emergency road benefits plus other perks. These may include discounts on hotels and assistance in booking travel.

What to Ask When Deciding on a Roadside Assistance Plan

Some standalone roadside assistance providers let you extend the policy to household members for an additional fee. | Photo by Negative Space on Pexels

Given that you have many options, how will you know which one is best for you? Here are a few questions to help you choose the right roadside assistance plan and provider:

Will roadside service claims affect my auto insurance rates?

If you get a road assistance plan through your car insurer, excessive claims could affect your premium. Insurance companies look at and flag large numbers of emergency road claims as risks. This, unfortunately, can cause your rates to rise.

Your rates will remain unaffected if you sign up for roadside help from other sources, such as a member organization or a credit card company.

Can you extend the plan to other people?

Membership organizations usually let you include household members in the policy for an additional fee.

What’s more, some plans through telecommunications providers offer coverage based on whoever has the enrolled mobile phone device. If your friend, for instance, borrows your enrolled smartphone and requires roadside assistance, the cell phone company will cover the incident if you’re not physically present.

How many roadside assistance claims can you make each year?

Some companies offer coverage for up to four road events per year. After that, you can still get help, but you have to pay additional charges.

Others allow unlimited service calls. This doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t have a problem with filing as many claims as you want. Some companies may choose not to offer you roadside assistance coverage in the future if you keep making too many claims.

When you’re going to travel the wide, open road, make sure you have roadside assistance. If an accident does happen, you can rest easy knowing that you can easily and conveniently call someone for emergency road service. What’s more, you don’t have to wait for a Good Samaritan to pull over and help you in your predicament.

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