If you’re like us, the experience of being stranded on the side of a road with a dead battery, flat tire, or other car malfunction is one we’d rather do without, especially over the course of our busy daily lives. However, the possibility of a breakdown happening or some other mishap, like locking yourself out of the car, is real — nearly one in three drivers have experienced a need for this kind of help in the U.S. Luckily, this is where the value of roadside assistance comes in for you, and it’s sure to save you money.
What is roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance, offered by many car insurance providers and third-party companies, provides emergency services when you find yourself stranded on the road. Whether you need a jump-start, someone to change your tire, or you run out of gas, this assistance will connect you with the service providers you need to get your vehicle back on the road right away, no matter where you are or what time it is.
How does it work?
Roadside assistance is an optional coverage that you typically pay a yearly fee for. Like car insurance, you won’t need to pay an out-of-pocket expense for the services unless you exceed a coverage limit. Generally available at all hours of the day, 24/7, roadside assistance providers will dispatch service providers that are closest to you and who best suit your needs. This means that you have reassurance on the road at any time in the event you unexpectedly become stranded.
What does it include?
Roadside assistance policies vary; many providers offer basic roadside services as well as premium-level services with broader limits. The following is a list of typical roadside services, though not all providers offer these options.
You may find that you need your car towed to the nearest mechanic one day. Without roadside assistance, local towing services range from $55–$85. A roadside assistance plan like the one offered by us at Elephant Insurance would cost $3–$5 a month and would include this service.
Battery jump start service
Nothing is as unexpected as a dead battery. Whether you left your lights on or it’s run the course of its life, getting a battery jump start from a professional can cost you on average $50–$120 per event without roadside assistance.
Flat tire service
Quite a few people can change a flat tire on their car, but in the event you cannot, a service professional can charge $50 a tire at minimum to do this for you. Roadside coverage would be a great help here, and it would be done safely, however some carriers may not provide this service for motorcycles or similar vehicles. Flat tire service would be covered under Elephant’s roadside assistance plan, again within the $3–$5 a month cost.
Lockout service and locksmith service
Many people have inadvertently left their keys in their car, and it provides a real dilemma if you’re in a hurry or an inconvenient spot like the gas station. A lockout service will unlock the car door with the use of a tool, while locksmith services would help in the event these methods fail. Without roadside assistance, the cost of these services ranges from $65–$120.
While the fuel gauge provides plenty of warning before you completely run out of gas, the inevitable can happen, and you may find yourself on the road stranded without gas. Without roadside assistance, fuel delivery service can cost you greatly. Elephant also features this service in its roadside assistance plan.
Extrication or winching service
Extrication or winching would be the process of moving a vehicle if it is stuck. Without roadside assistance, this will undoubtedly cost you and even more so if it will require more than one service professional or vehicle to get the job done.
Transportation assistance for a stranded driver and passengers
If you do find yourself stranded on the road and need transportation for yourself and others to your intended destination, this will be an additional expense, and would be offset greatly or eliminated with the purchase of a roadside assistance plan.
Why is roadside assistance important?
Roadside assistance is important primarily because it can provide emergency assistance in your time of need, with all of it done safely by service professionals as opposed to someone who has no expertise. In addition, roadside assistance greatly offsets the costs you would have to pay if you paid for services outright and not as part of a plan.
While roadside assistance is a service that is useful to anyone in any circumstance, it may be particularly useful for the following:
- Elderly people
- Young drivers and new licensees
- Parents with small children
- Anyone with a physical disability
- Drivers of older vehicles
- People who live in remote areas
- Drivers with long commutes
- Travelers who take long-distance trips
Should you get roadside assistance?
If you’re wondering whether roadside assistance is right for you, there are a few things to consider in that decision:
Your vehicle’s age
Newer cars generally have fewer problems and less need for maintenance, so if you have an older car, roadside assistance may be the assurance you need while you travel the road.
How far you drive
Getting roadside assistance may be a prudent investment if you are someone with a long-distance commute, frequently travel, or do a lot of driving in general.
Convenience of service
Many people get roadside assistance because of the convenience. There’s less hassle involved, it’s safe, costs much less than paying for services outright, and it’s reliable.
Cost may be the overriding factor on whether to get roadside assistance. In many cases, it is very inexpensive, and greatly offsets any costs you would incur if you had to pay for emergency services on your own. Most people pay less than $20 for basic add-on roadside assistance from their insurance carrier. Premium-level roadside assistance plans offer other perks and savings that may be worth the cost as well.
Where can you purchase roadside assistance?
Auto insurance companies
Roadside assistance is available from auto insurance companies, and it may be one of the easiest ways to get the coverage. Many of them offer tiered policies, providing basic roadside assistance as well as premium options with broader coverage limits.
Member organizations like AAA
Member organizations, such as AAA, National General Motor Club and Good Sam specialize in roadside assistance. While these policies cost more, the benefits are considered to be greater than what typical insurance carriers offer, plus additional perks such as travel and lodging discounts and expense reimbursements.
Car manufacturers may offer roadside assistance with the purchase of a new or certified pre-owned car as a part of your warranty. Some manufacturers offer this service up to three years or 36,000 miles, while others offer longer terms as high as 60 months or 60,000 miles.
Credit card companies
Premium credit card companies, such as Visa and MasterCard, offer roadside assistance programs for their customers. Options vary but include flat fees for the service as well as pre-negotiated options.
Roadside assistance with Elephant: Urgent.ly
For our roadside assistance coverage, Elephant has partnered with Urgent.ly, the leading global digital roadside assistance platform. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the service provides real-time tracking of your provider’s progress toward you. The roadside service offers towing, battery jump, flat tire replacement, emergency fuel delivery, and lockout services.
How does it work?
If you find yourself stranded on the road, you’ll need to do the following to access the service if you’ve purchased it:
- Call the designated emergency roadside assistance line
- Get matched with a qualified service provider
- Track your service provider’s location
- Get the help you need to get back on the road