Roadside Assistance - 5 Basics

The side of the road can be a lonely – and dangerous – place. All manner of vehicles are zipping by at top speed, and you’re just sitting there with a flat tire, an empty gas tank or worse.

Roadside assistance coverage via your auto insurance policy may help get you going again. Just be sure to understand what your plan covers, and what it doesn’t, before you find yourself frustrated and stranded on the side of the road.

Here are five important things to know about roadside assistance to help you better understand the coverage:

  1. It’s a policy add-on: Your auto insurance likely doesn’t include roadside assistance coverage unless you added it to your policy for an extra but oftentimes nominal charge. It’s such a commonplace option nowadays that many independent agents recommend it, and many customers ask about it. However, it’s still possible to come away with a new car insurance policy that does not include roadside assistance. Sometimes it just gets overlooked, so be sure to check your policy and add the coverage, if you like.
  2. What you get depends on whom you get it from: Different carriers or auto clubs will offer different coverages with their roadside assistance plans. Oftentimes you’ll have assistance for:
    • Fuel delivery.
    • Battery jumpstart or boost.
    • Lockouts.
    • Flat tires.
    • Mechanical breakdowns, including towing, if needed.

    Know what your plan covers so you know what to expect when trouble strikes. For example, with most plans, you pay for the services upfront, as part of your car insurance premium. That typically means you won’t incur any additional charges at the time you use the services, but that could depend on your individual policy terms and on the situation at hand.
  3. Towing restrictions may apply: Your roadside assistance plan likely puts a cap on how far – and maybe even how often – you’ll be towed before incurring additional fees. If you break down in a remote area and require a lengthy tow, you may have to chip in for some of the cost. Check your policy for details.
  4. It’s not just for cars: All shapes and sizes of vehicles are typically eligible for roadside assistance plans. But, did you know that RVs, classic cars, motorcycles and even boats typically are, too? With classic car coverage, check whether your roadside assistance plan offers flatbed towing. For boats, coverage is typically available for your trailer and towing vehicle. Plus, your carrier may offer on-water assistance for such things as fuel delivery, towing and more for your watercraft. If so, this would be a separate option to add to your boat insurance policy.
  5. Supersize it: Standard roadside assistance oftentimes includes the coverages discussed above. But, what if you break down and have to spend a night or longer in a hotel while your car undergoes repairs? All of a sudden you have unexpected lodging expenses to cover, not to mention the cost of food and other necessities while you’re delayed. Standard roadside assistance likely won’t help you with these expenses, but an emergency assistance package or trip interruption coverage in addition to your roadside assistance plan may. Ask your independent agent about this enhanced coverage if you feel it’s right for you, whether for your car, RV, motorcycle or something else.

No one wants to end up on the side of the road – what a pain. But, as you’re sitting there wondering what to do next, it’s a relief knowing you added roadside assistance to your car insurance policy. Just grab your phone and dial your roadside assistance number, and help is on the way.