Roadside Assistance

Roadside Assistance

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Mechanic doing Roadside Assistance

Credits: Arseny Togulev via Unsplash

Do you find your car going directions by itself? Has your car been sputtering lately? You may need roadside assistance.

If you’ve been in a car accident, you may think your car has come out unscathed. However, a car accident can cause or worsen problems in wheel alignment, tires, or battery use. It can also damage the steering wheel. You may not see the damage right away, but a car accident can cause suspension or steering column issues. Or worse, your car may break down on the road a few days later. 

When your car breaks down, you’ll need a professional technician to come to your rescue while on the road. 

Here are Frequently Asked Questions on roadside assistance.

My car isn’t drivable. Now what?

There are several reasons why your car isn’t drivable. It may be because of a dead battery, empty gas tank, bad starter or alternator, failed fuel pump, damaged ignition switch, loose or corroded connection cables, damaged spark plug, faulty ignition coil, or locked wheel.

Sometimes, the reason may even be an activated security system, especially for new cars. If your car is broken into or your car may have a damaged sensor, its security system may be preventing you from driving it. 

Roadside Assistance Coverage

Roadside Assistance benefits and services include vehicle assistance and personal assistance. It’s an add-on in car insurance that provides professional services through vehicle assistance (unlocking doors, towing, delivering fuel, changing tires, winching, or boosting battery) and personal assistance (hotel accommodation or legal assistance) to policyholders if the car breaks down.

If you have car problems or are involved in an accident, call your roadside assistance or request service online from a roadside assistance mobile app to get help. Your roadside assistance provider will interview you and send a tow truck or a technician to perform approved auto repairs from minor car hiccups to extreme emergency situations. 


Roadside assistance in Canada

Canada has the worst roads, especially during winter. This is why Canadian tires need to be ready for tire changes during road trips and prepare spare tires.

For school safety, travel safety, road safetyautomobile associations, travel guides, or travel consultants advise to call roadside assistance for problems in road trips or guided vacations. Ensure to review your auto insurance membership card when trip planning and check with your travel guides the travel plans.

The usual inclusions of getting a roadside service includes 

  • Unlocking doors
  • Towing
  • Delivering fuel
  • Changing tires (spare tires)
  • Winching
  • Jump starting battery or boosting the battery

In Canada, roadside assistance is very safe. Canadians take roadside safety very carefully with pedestrian safety patrols and school safety patrols. They also as many roadside assistance providers have advocated for the protection of their workers through the Slow Down, Move Over law. For example, if you’re in Central Ontario and you see tow trucks or emergency vehicles pulled over with lights flashing, you should slow down to 60 km/h. 

Is roadside assistance worth getting?

Getting roadside assistance has become a necessity for your car or bike assist. If you travel much for work or pleasure, you may need road assistance. Some coverage offers more than just the basics. Service providers (automobile associations or insurance companies) may even provide lodging reimbursement (saving money) if it takes more than a few hours to repair your car or your car needs towing to an auto repair facility. 

Roadside assistance can save you money in times of unexpected accidents. However, you’ve got to take note if your car or bike safety policy qualifies for it.

It may be true that new cars are less likely to be towed because of minor wear and tear. However, the chances of being in an accident are the same for every car. You don’t know what may happen.

Some roadside assistance service providers also process an international driving permit. Much like roadside assistance, an international driving permit will give you peace of mind too. For example, it would be best to get a permit if you’re trip planning to visit theme parks because of a travel event. You have to consult travel plans from travel guides. Most often, they would recommend to get additional insurance (life insurance, health and dental insurance, travel insurance). 

Can you use your roadside assistance for someone else?

It depends. For some service providers or auto insurance companies, the actual member is the policyholder for the roadside assistance and not the vehicle. This means that if you’re driving another car or you’re with someone who has car problems, you can use your coverage to get service for his or her vehicle. 

At the same time, some auto insurance companies only provide roadside assistance on the vehicle that the coverage is listed. This means that if you’re driving your friend’s car, your friend will need to call his or her roadside assistance provider. 

Vehicle Roadside Assistance

These are some of vehicle roadside assistance services.

  1. Towing – The insurance company will send a tow truck to bring your vehicle to a repair shop. Towing may be flatbed or retrieval towing. Flatbed towing involves a specialized truck that has a flatbed at the back. Retrieval towing involves a tow truck used to lift either the rear or front side of the vehicle to be towed. Another towing involves a crane where it helps retrieve a stuck vehicle that has overturned or fallen down the slope.
  2. Tire replacement – When your tire is damaged, or you’ve met with flat tires, you can request service online from a professional to put spare tires and replace your flat ones. 
  3. Battery boost or jumpstart – Technicians use jumper cables to “jump start” your car if you have dead batteries. Some services even deliver new batteries and install them. 
  4. Lockout or Locksmith services – If your car has a faulty sensor or has been attempted to be broken into, roadside assistance can help you unlock your door. 
  5. Fuel delivery – The service provider will provide you a certain number of liters when you’re running low or have gone out of fuel to get your vehicle to the nearest gas station. Usually, the cost of the fuel isn’t covered. If the gas price is $30, you have to pay for it. 

What should I know about buying a roadside assistance plan?

For one, determine if you’re already covered—review membership forms and compare memberships. Take note to check if you’re covered (auto insurance, travel insurance), especially if you’ve bought an extended warranty, service contract, or auto insurance policy. 

Another factor to take into consideration is the cost. Get an insurance quote and again, compare memberships. You can pay by cash or credit card. To renew membership, get another quote. You may also gift membership to your friend, family, or loved one. 

Plans start at $50 to $70 for a basic plan for a year. Some premium coverage or gold plans costs $25 to $35 a month. Also, some plans allow the use of roadside assistance for five times a year only. When you exceed this number, you have to pay extra. 

As mentioned, check with your service provider if the plan involves the member or the vehicle. Take note that some insurance companies include the member only, not the car. Even if the member is driving another car, the member is still covered. However, some insurance companies only consider the vehicle for roadside assistance coverage.


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