Roadside assistance is a type of insurance coverage offered to motorcyclists and motorists. In the event of an accident, breakdown, or mechanical failure, roadside assistance includes services that either remedy the problem, allowing the motorist to drive away from the site, or towing services, usually to a nearby mechanic where the vehicle can undergo more extensive repairs.
What is Roadside Insurance?
Roadside insurance usually refers to roadside assistance. Like other forms of insurance, it includes a monthly premium which you pay into in order to access services in the event of an vehicular emergency or an accident.
Common Forms of Roadside Assistance
Some of the most commonly requested forms of roadside assistance include jumpstarting a vehicle whose battery has died, changing a flat tire, providing fuel when a vehicle runs out, towing vehicles stuck in snow, or helping people who have locked their keys into their car. When the problem is something that requires more extensive repairs or diagnostics, roadside assistance services will tow the vehicle to a garage.
Finding Roadside Assistance
Roadside assistance may be offered for a fee or free of charge by governments, non-profit organizations, car manufacturers, insurance companies, and other private companies. Some of the most popular roadside assistance service companies in the United States include Good Sam Roadside Assistance, GM Motor Club, AAA, Paragon Motor Club, AARP, National Motor Club, BP Motor Club, Allstate Motor Club, and AutoVantage. These memberships range in price from $50-$200 per year, and may include a variety of service offerings, including on-time arrival guarantees, lockout assistance, tire change services, extrication and winching, gasoline delivery, dead battery services, and a car rental discount. Coverage varies—some memberships have age restrictions and state residency requirements. Some also offer coverage during breakdowns in Canada, and for vehicles such as RVs, light trucks, trailers, and motorcycles. If you would like to purchase roadside assistance from an organization, make sure that you look into specifics such as services offered, annual fees, coverage restrictions, and premium benefits.
Roadside Assistance in the U.S.
In the United States, some state departments of transportation offer government-run roadside assistance, also known as Highway Assistance Patrols or Highway Safety Patrols. The task of these patrols are to assist with emergencies on the highway as required. These emergency services are provided free of charge to motorists by trained professionals. Tasks include safely securing traffic lanes, providing emergency medical treatment, requesting tow trucks, removing debris from roadways following crashes, and resolving minor mechanical problems. Though they are not law enforcement officers, many of these patrols work in conjunction with state police.
Towing services are generally offered in roadside assistance memberships. When a problem with a vehicle cannot be resolved on the spot, a tow truck will be called to come to the identified location and tow the vehicle to a mechanic. However, many roadside membership services impose a towing limit of approximately 5-15 miles. That is, the tow truck will take the vehicle to the nearest possible garage. In these cases, if you want your vehicle to be taken to a specific mechanic, you may have to pay additional fees.