10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Roadside Assistance Service

How to choose a roadside assistance service
There are several things to consider when choosing a roadside assistance service, as you will require urgent help in case of a car breakdown. Read this Buzzle post to find out how to choose such a service.
Tip
Inquire with the roadside assistance company if they offer replacement of remote car keys, and not just the traditional ones. Not many companies provide them, and it can be crucial in case you are locked out or have lost the key.
Knowing that you have a roadside assistance program in place will give you a sense of relief and assurance, especially if you are undertaking long road trips to unknown destinations. Some of the services offered by this assistance program are free tows up to certain miles, changing flat tires, jump-starting battery, providing fuel and fluids, opening car locks, etc. Some even offer assistance if your car has broken down in your driveway. However, with so many players which include private services, automobile companies, insurance companies, etc., it becomes difficult to choose the right program which will suit your needs. Here is a list of a few essential things to consider when choosing such a service.
Coverage
There are two types of coverage for roadside assistance. One covers the driver, while the other is meant for the vehicle. The first one is advisable if you own multiple vehicles, while the latter is suitable for a family who shares a single car. There are a few companies who do not allow both the coverage and ask you to choose one. Hence, you must select an option that will suit you the best.

Driver Coverage: If the plan covers the driver, the roadside service will come to your rescue even if you are driving somebody else's car.

Vehicle Coverage: Similarly, if you choose the vehicle plan, the service will respond if the covered vehicle breaks down, irrespective of the person in the driver's seat.

Imagine a scenario where you are traveling on a long Interstate Highway and your car has broken down. You call your company only to be told that they can cover you till about 100 miles (and you have traveled way beyond that). Or they may not cover you if you are in some other state. Hence, it is important to avail a program that will give you a good coverage irrespective of where you are. Some companies also cover your car if it breaks down at home. So, try to choose an agency which will suit your requirements.
Services Offered
It is important that you decide what kind of services you require. However, there are certain services that should be availed at all costs. This may include towing, maintenance, servicing and repair, refilling of fuel, etc. The last thing you will want to hear when you are stranded on a lonely road is that your roadside assistance program does not cover repairs. Some companies also impart information and maps before you take up traveling. Hence, you should ensure that you get a slew of services for the amount you pay to your program.
Mechanic changing car tire
Freebies and Discounts
If you avail the membership of a roadside service club, you can get certain added benefits. You may get a plethora of hotel and motel discounts, glossy magazines to keep you company during your travel, and even free maps to show you the right direction on the road. You can save a considerable amount of money on the hotel and motel bills. A map can definitely come in handy if you do not have a navigation system and are heading to a new place. Besides the standard emergency roadside services, many providers also offer additional benefits like travel discounts on flights and car rentals. Some may also offer guidebooks for planning out your next family vacation. There are many programs that offer a good discount if you discontinue your earlier program and take up a new one with them. So, don't forget to avail these benefits.
Couple looking map
Know What is Free and What is Not
If your car company is offering you free assistance, it does not mean that it is going to be a 'free ride.' Your car will be towed for free, but it will be sent to their affiliated repair shop where you will have to shell out a lot of your hard-earned money for servicing, maintenance, and repairs. Remember that car companies offer free assistance because in all probability, it will take some years before a new car will break down. And if it does, they can still make money through maintenance and repairs. If you meet with an accident while driving, tell the police that you have a breakdown cover to help you out. Otherwise, they will send the car to another repair shop, and your roadside assistance will reimburse only a part of the costs.
Tow truck towing car
Availability
One really cannot predict when and where a vehicle can break down. Don't be surprised when your car refuses to start right in the middle of the night on a lonely road. Just imagine what will happen if your car breaks down during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve, and you try to call up your roadside assistance only to be told that they are closed for the holidays. This will not help you at all; in fact, this cold treatment will leave you fuming with anger. Hence, before selecting one, you must ensure that they operate on a 24/7 basis for all 365 days. You must be assured that they will always be available at your beck and call.
Winter car breakdown
Years of Experience
Ensure that the company is active for many years before you decide to shop for a roadside assistance with them. This is because an established company will have a national network of breakdown experts who will be able to rush to your location in absolutely no time. You would not want to opt for a relatively newer company that does not operate in all states or areas, and leaves you to fend for yourself with a car that does not work.
Cost Implications
While many new and old automobile companies provide this service for free, there are many others who charge some amount for it. This amount can be on a pay-as-you-go basis or may be a predetermined sum for a certain number of tows. It is important that you compare costs and benefits to decide which agency and type of coverage will suit you the best. Remember that the cost should not be the only criteria, and if you are getting a reliable and good service for a little extra price, you should take it. Keep an eye for hidden fees, or you may get an exorbitant bill. You must explore the 'no call-out' discount options that many companies offer.
Number of Tows
You must find out the number of tows that the company is offering in the package. Many companies give free service for some miles and then charge for every single mile after that limit. For example, a company may offer free towing up to 50 miles and then charge a certain amount for the remaining ones. There are certain companies which only allow towing for a particular distance or to the nearest repair facility. Apart from this, many also offer a combined breakdown coverage for you as well as your spouse or partner. Hence, try to find a service which offers you with the best towing deals.
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Response Time
You should choose a roadside assistance program that has a good response time. If they tell you to wait for 3 hours on a lonely road before help arrives, think about availing their services again. You may as well walk down to the nearest repair shop in that amount of time. Many companies try to reach you faster if you are stranded right in the middle of the highway or have children along with you. Try to tap into such companies.
Woman with car breakdown
Compare Benefits
Browse the Internet to conduct a research about the major roadside assistance services. Compare the benefits and costs to find out which ones suit your requirement. Visit their social media pages to find out how they deal with people. Testimonials and reviews will give you a fair idea about the companies. You can also visit various online review websites and speak to people for getting authentic information about their service.
Even though you may have a breakdown cover in place, it is advisable that you carry a spare tire, jack, crowbar, portable jump start battery kit, a red warning triangle, a road map, etc., with you in the car, especially, if you are going to travel for a long distance. Find out whether your program covers you if you have traveled to Canada and know about areas that will not be covered. If you avail a program and do not find it up to the mark, you can always change it to a better one. Merely knowing how to choose a program is not going to help; you must know how to optimally utilize it for your advantage. Find a service which will rush to your rescue even if you are stranded with your car on the freeway or in your driveway.
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