1. When can you use roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance is meant to be accessible in your time of need any time day or night. Roadside assistance is a coverage which covers moving your vehicle when your vehicle has a mechanical breakdown. It does more than just that though. Use roadside assistance in all the following instances.
- Mechanical breakdown
- Locked out of your vehicle
- Flat tire
- Out of gas
- Stuck in a ditch
For example: Wintertime weather has struck again and you lose control and land in the ditch. Regardless of your attempts to get out, you are stuck. Roadside assistance would cover the costs of a professional tow instead of relying on your dad to rig up a way to get you out in the blizzard.
2. How does the tow company get paid?
How the tow company gets paid usually depends on your roadside assistance provider. It is important to ask how your plan works at the time of purchase. Then you will know ahead of time. Keep the roadside assistance phone number in the glove compartment of each of your vehicles.
Often if you call your roadside assistance carrier at the time you need the assistance, a tow truck can be dispatched to your location and the insurance company will take care of the payment directly. No out of pocket expense will be charged to you. Usually with this method, your roadside assistance provider chooses the tow company for you.
Another common form of roadside assistance is for you to pay the tow company out of your own pocket and turn in a receipt to your roadside assistance provider. Then you will receive reimbursement, sometimes immediately or more commonly by mail. One benefit for this method of coverage is you can pick the tow company of your choice.
Many services offer both forms of coverage so you can choose what is best in your given situation.
3. How much does roadside assistance cost?
Costs can vary widely between providers and coverage amounts. The price can also vary based on the number of drivers in the household and the number of vehicles you own. To put a dollar amount on it, you are looking at costs ranging from $10 a year all the way up to $100 for some. If you are paying over $100 a year, it would not hurt to start shopping around.
4. How far can I have my vehicle towed?
Coverage limits are determined at the time you purchase the coverage. Some policies go by dollar amount. For example, regardless of how far the tow your policy will cover $50 or $100. Or, sometimes the coverage goes by mileage. Maybe your limits are set at 15 miles or 100 miles regardless of the dollar amount charged. Know your limits so you can be prepared if you do have out of pocket expenses.
5. Does a tow claim affect your insurance rate?
Rarely will you come across a plan which increases rates for tow claims. Roadside assistance is one of the smallest claims you can file and normally there are not limitations on how many claims can be filed. One restriction you might come across is multiple tows without the vehicle running in between.
For example: John gets his truck towed to a mechanic after being broke down on the side of the road. After the mechanic determines what is wrong with the truck and gives John the price to fix the vehicle, he decides to do the repairs himself. He now needs the vehicle towed home. Many roadside assistance plans will only provide coverage for one of the tows.
Roadside assistance is a common coverage and is often included with full coverage car insurance policies. However, do not assume because you have full coverage you have roadside assistance. Check with your insurance carrier to verify coverage. If you do not like the coverage provided by your car insurance, roadside assistance can be purchased from a few other sources.