Roadside assistance is one of those handy services that can make your life a lot easier. A well-known national company has been doing it for years, but certainly does not have a monopoly. You can shop around to obtain the best policy possible. The good news is that most roadside assistance policies cost around $135 a year, an amount that can quickly be offset with a couple of towing bills.
With that said, there are some things to think about when it comes to roadside assistance. While all of them offer similar services, few offer identical services or terms. Here are a few of the services and some things to consider with each.
When your vehicle has gasped its last alongside the road, or in the middle of the road, one of the best sights in the world is that tow truck slowing down and stopping in front of you. Towing doesn’t come cheap these days, and the thought of having to dig down into your travel budget to pay for one is rarely a wonderful experience. Roadside assistance covers most local towing fees. Some companies top out at $100 for towing, while one exceptional company pays for unlimited towing to the closest service even if it is 500 miles away.
Locksmith services often get rolled in with towing, but never underestimate their worth. If you’ve ever hastily locked your vehicle’s door and realized that your keys are inside, you are certainly not alone with this experience. It becomes even worse if you have locked your ID and perhaps even your phone in there, as well. The absolute worst scenario is if a pet or child that is too young to operate the door locks is inside. Under those circumstances, getting help quickly is the only thing on your mind.
A flat tire can seriously deflate your best travel plans. Even if you have one of those handy little pumps that plug into the DC electrical outlet in your vehicle, not every flat can be so easily inflated. Some companies like the RAC personal plan roll this into a service usually described as “roadside assistance” which can also include recharging batteries, unlocking your locked door, and even moderate repairs. Some companies cover a moderate amount of replacement parts, but others will charge extra for parts such as a new tire or a replacement battery. Even so, having someone drive up in an official vehicle and fix that minor whatever it is so that your vehicle will go again is a wonderful thing. More than that, the service person might arrive in a towing vehicle or be able to quickly summon one if that turns out to be the real answer.
Above and Beyond
Some kinds of assistance go beyond the immediate mechanical details of your vehicle. One company provides a coupon for discounts on repairs at nearby shops of a certain brand. Another offers a bond certificate. Sound like something you wouldn’t need? Guess again. If you are involved in an auto accident in another country or even in a state that is not your own, you might need to post a bond before being allowed to journey on. Being confronted with coming up with a bond or going to jail can very much ruin your road trip adventure. In that same sort of consideration, some companies offer coverage for what they call “trip interruption” where you need a place to stay overnight.
Trip Planning and Other Small Perks
Some policies offer assistance with trip planning and even provide maps and Carfax reports. These are small things that don’t seem to amount to much when you first look at them but can add up in the long run.