The Dirty Little Secret About Roadside Assistance
It seems everyone wants Roadside Assistance with their insurance policies, whether liability or full coverage. It’s a great perk and good to have…for emergencies. Roadside Assistance is the attempt by a service professional to make minor mechanical repairs and adjustments to make a vehicle drivable again typically available by calling a toll-free number.
Roadside assistance coverage helps drivers when their vehicle breaks down.
· It is an option available on some auto insurance policies.
· Your car insurance company typically partners with an existing network of businesses that provide roadside assistance services or employs a team to contact and arrange service on their customer’s behalf.
· Generally, adding roadside assistance to your policy will provide towing, battery service, flat tire service, fuel delivery and lockout service.
Here’s the secret: When you get roadside from an insurance company it counts as a claim when you use it. You are making a claim on your insurance benefits. So, using it can preclude you from getting some insurance companies best rates because you have too many claims. That’s right. It’s why we call it the dirty little secret.
Having said that, here’s what most Roadside Assistance Service includes:
Towing service is provided when the roadside assistance fails to make a vehicle drivable again or able to be driven safely. They will tow your vehicle to a mechanic up to a limited number of miles. If you want or need your vehicle towed beyond that limit, they won’t leave your vehicle stranded, but they will charge you the difference.
Battery jump-start service is an attempt to start a vehicle by jump-starting the battery, unless otherwise advised by the manufacturer. If you drive an electric car reference the owner’s manual, since they operate differently that most vehicles on the road and have fewer qualified service professionals. Generally, hybrid vehicles use the battery which powers the electric motor to turn over the gasoline engine, making it unlikely they would ever require a jump-start.
Flat tire service is to replace the flat tire with the spare inside your vehicle. Roadside assistance for an automobile will not typically cover a flat tire for a motorcycle or any other two or three-wheel vehicle.
Lockout service and locksmith service are both for when you cannot gain entry to your vehicle (i.e., you locked the keys in the car). But there is a difference between the two. Any time a roadside service professional helps a driver open their vehicle, that falls under lockout service. They usually can gain entry using a pump wedge or a long reach tool to unlock a door. If they cannot gain entry to the vehicle, a locksmith service will be called. Some roadside assistance coverage will cover the cost of a locksmith, or partially cover the cost, and others will not.
Fuel delivery service is provided to drivers who run out of gas while driving. A service professional will come to your location with enough fuel to get the vehicle to the nearest gas station. Some roadside services charge for the fuel. Those that do charge will use the area's pump price in determining the fee for the stranded motorist.
Should You Get Roadside Assistance?
San Antonio, Texas used to have a kind soul who drove around helping people after he was done with his job, the Highway Hero, spreading kindness: http://foxsanantonio.com/news/cash-for-kindness/highway-hero-awarded-1k-for-helping-stranded-motorists However, we don’t recommend waiting for strangers to assist you this day in age (but it’s still a great story). So getting roadside is a personal choice. Factors to consider are how old your vehicle is, how far you commute, plus how much security and convenience you want. It is very nice to have if you get stranded on a dark road somewhere at night or in bad weather.
Where can you get Roadside Assistance?
Roadside is available from some auto insurance companies but also auto clubs, some credit card issuers, some cell phone service providers, and vehicle manufacturers. Even though we are insurance we recommend getting it from the latter sources, not your insurance carrier, to prevent usage to show up as claims. Sometimes the benefits are free of charge, so it can be worth checking into your options. If it is included from your car manufacturer (such as Ford, Chrysler, etc.), make sure to keep their phone number in your car along with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for your convenience.
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