Roadside assistance is available through almost every car insurance provider or third party companies. But what exactly does roadside assistance cover and do you really need it?
Your car stalled in the middle of that creepy road that your GPS told you to not turn down. You thought it would save you time. Now it’s starting to rain and The Bachelor is on in twenty minutes and you forgot to set your DVR. You don't want to deal with expensive and possibly scandalous tow truck companies, but have no other way home.
Sound familiar? If you had roadside assistance coverage, then you’d be fine whenever this happens--and not crying on the side of the road. It’s available through almost every car insurance company across the country, so you’ll most likely have the option to add one onto your policy. But what exactly is roadside assistance and do you really need it?
What does roadside assistance cover?
Roadside assistance includes a mechanic or service professional driving out to your stalled vehicle and attempting to fix as many problems as possible in order to get you back on the road. However, roadside maintenance may not be able to get your car running again.For this reason, one or more of the following services are offered under this coverage:
- Towing If the problems are too much to be handled on the side of a road then this will be required to bring your vehicle into a shop. Where exactly they bring your car will depend on your specific carrier as they will only tow your vehicle to a mechanic within a certain radius. You can request it to be brought to a specific mechanic, but if that place is outside your coverage range, you'll be charged extra.
- Battery jump-start If you’ve ever accidentally left the lights or the car radio on for too long with the engine off then you’ve put yourself at risk for a dead battery. In the event of a dead battery, roadside assistance can take care of this in no time. Do note however, that if you have an electric or hybrid car you should check your reference manual for battery operation. There are fewer service professionals available to assist with electric and hybrid cars because they aren't as common on the roads as gasoline vehicles.
- Flat tires Changing a flat tire can be more complicated than initially anticipated or you may not have the necessary tools for the job. Roadside assistance has both the skills and tools to help you out in this event.
- Lockout and locksmith If you accidentally left your keys inside your car, a service professional will come out to your location and attempt to open the car for you. Usually they will be able to do so with their specialized tools, but in the event that they can’t they’ll have to call a locksmith who will be able to gain entry to your vehicle. Check with your insurance company first because locksmiths aren’t always included with your coverage.
- Fuel delivery If you were running near empty and suddenly find yourself stranded then a roadside assistant will come by with enough gas for your car to get to the nearest gas station. If your provider charges for the gas that is brought to you generally they will use the gas prices from the nearest gas station to determine how much to charge you.
- Extrication or winching If you’ve gotten yourself into a ditch or some other entrapment that restricts your vehicle’s movement, your roadside assistance will cover sending someone out to your location to help you bring your vehicle back onto solid ground.
Do I really need roadside assistance?
That all ultimately depends on five factors:
- Age of the vehicle The older the car, the greater the need. The newer the car, the less of a need there is for this additional service. Your car will most likely be running well and generally is covered under the manufacturer’s emergency roadside service for the first few years or up to a certain amount of mileage. Even if it’s not, any problem you run into will be cheaper to handle individually as opposed to paying for an optional coverage you may never need.
- Mileage The less you drive, the less of a need you’ll have to pay for roadside assistance. If you’re daily commute tends to be in areas you’re familiar with, then you’ll most likely be aware of where local body shops are and which ones you can call when in need. When driving in new locations, it would be comforting to have a professional be able to take care of these matters for you.
- Time If you prefer to get things done both efficiently and effectively, then you could really benefit from roadside assistance. As nice as it is being able to fix mechanical problems yourself, nothing beats having a professional coming to you in a time of need with a quick fix.
- Money Surprisingly enough, purchasing this option and paying the increased premium will end up saving you money in the long run. Without this coverage, having a mechanic come out to your location can easily be more expensive than you had anticipated. Paying someone yourself without this coverage will most likely strain your wallet.
- Circumstances You might want to think twice about roadside assistance if you already have it through your car’s manufacturer or a credit card. A lot of car makers will offer free roadside service with certain limitations and credit card companies even have certain perks offered to valued customers. It is best to check with your manufacturer and credit card company to confirm before you purchase additional roadside coverage from your insurance provider or a third party.