Flat tires, overheated engines and other hassles are a part of life for most car owners at some point or another. Whether your battery died or your motor simply won’t start, it’s extremely helpful to have a plan for emergency roadside assistance. This type of coverage can be a true lifesaver, especially when you’re traveling alone at night or on unfamiliar terrain. While many of today’s brand-new vehicles are sold with built-in roadside assistance packages (free of charge), motorists with slightly older cars usually need to purchase this coverage.
Most roadside assistance plans offer a range of basic services for a set yearly fee, from jumping-starting a dead battery to vehicle towing and changing out a flat or disabled tire. But, before settling on AAA or another program, it’s important to read the fine print.
Some plans will cover you as a passenger or driver whether you’re operating your own vehicle or another’s. Other plans offer roadside assistance but only within a certain geographical range. If you plan on traveling outside of Louisiana often, it’s essential to ask questions like these, especially when it comes to towing distances.
Roadside assistance: general services offered
If your vehicle breaks down, won’t start, or is disabled, most roadside assistance plans will offer the following services:
- Up to 60 minutes of mechanical labor at the site of breakdown
- Locked out of car: locksmith service if car key is locked inside of car, stolen or misplaced
- Towing service to the nearest auto repair location (within set perimeter)
- Delivering a new battery, replacement tire, oil, spark plugs, fuel or other item necessary to get vehicle mobile again
Review & compare your roadside assistance options
Today’s motorists can purchase roadside assistance plans from auto clubs like Allstate’s Good Hands Roadside, AAA, in addition to their own insurance companies. One of the advantages of auto clubs is that the service networks tend to be larger, meaning quicker response times. However, you will still have to pay a yearly fee upfront, regardless if you use the plan. Insurance companies offer competitive rates on emergency roadside assistance coverage, but once you’ve used their service, you may notice an uptick in your yearly premiums.
Some factors to evaluate when comparing plans:
- Cost – plans can range from $30 to more than $300 a year. Some offer extra benefits like discounts on hotel stays or vehicle rentals, while others may charge more to add on additional family members.
- Towing policies – Ask about towing distances and policies. A basic plan may only tow up to ten miles to the nearest repair shop, while more expensive plans will tow within a 100-mile radius.
- Service call limits – How many times can you utilize your benefits? Most plans limit motorists to four calls in a 12-month period, after which you may incur additional charges.
- Network providers – Make sure you find a plan that has tow truck operators and repair shops in the regions where you are likely to be traveling. Some boast thousands of service providers nationwide, and even offer coverage in Mexico and Canada.
- What vehicles are eligible? – Most plans are limited to passenger vehicles, so check carefully if you want to purchase coverage for a motorcycle, trailer or RV.
- Extra Benefits –Look for extra benefits included in the coverage. Some offer trip interruption insurance, discounts on vehicle repairs, free maps and other trip planning devices.
- Online reviews – Check out the Better Business Bureau to see what other motorists are saying about the plan, and whether any complaints have been filed.
Vehicle breakdowns, like auto accidents, are unforeseen events that can be incredibly stressful and frightening. In some cases, vehicle breakdowns on busy freeways have led to secondary crashes and serious personal injury.
Louisiana car accident attorney Bart Bernard offers sound advocacy for motorists who have been hurt through no fault of their own. Request a free case evaluation by calling our Lafayette or Baton Rouge offices at 1-888-GET-BART.
Additional Resources on Roadside Assistance:
- StateFarm, Emergency Road Service Coverage https://www.statefarm.com/insurance/auto/coverage-options/emergency-road-service-coverage
- Angie’s List, Choosing a roadside assistance provider https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-choose-reputable-roadside-assistance-company.htm
- Popular Mechanics, How to Choose (and Use) a Roadside-Assistance Plan http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/a11993/how-to-choose-and-use-a-roadside-assistance-plan-12892888/