Roadside assistance is essentially a breakdown service. Depending on your situation, having roadside assistance means you’ll have someone to help you if you get caught with a flat tyre, flat battery and a range of other mechanical misfortunes.1 All you need to do is call! You can purchase roadside assistance on its own or as an optional extra when you take out Car Insurance. Like all types of insurance cover, the features that come with roadside assistance also vary from provider to provider.
All providers do things a little bit differently, but at the end of the day, they’re still essentially providing the same service. This means the process for getting roadside assistance will usually look like the following:
Of course, exactly what kind of help or services you’ll get (like towing) will depend on the terms and conditions of the specific roadside assistance policy you have. So it’s best to give your policy documents a quick read and make sure you understand them before committing to anything.
When it comes to cars, and more importantly what goes wrong with cars, a few situations crop up again and again. And it’s these common scenarios that roadside assistance aims to fix. However, keep in mind that roadside assistance will usually only cover you for certain jobs. Plus, there can also be a limit on how much they’ll cover you for repairs and other costs.2 So, depending on the situation, you might need to foot the bill for parts or labour.
The idea of having your car break down, stranding you in the middle of nowhere, is enough to put anyone on edge. Roadside assistance can help here, though. Your provider can dispatch a tow truck to fetch your unresponsive ride. Just know that they might have a limit when it comes to how far they’ll tow you. For example, it might be up to 100 km to the nearest authorised repairer.3
Did you just hear the dull THUMP-THUMP of a flat tyre? Give roadside assistance a call and someone will come out to inflate the tyre or replace it with your spare. If they pop the boot and find that your spare is missing, they might also arrange to tow your car to the nearest repairer.
This one’s good for everyone out there who forgets to check the fuel gauge until they’re running on empty. Many providers will offer to come out and provide a certain amount of fuel (e.g. $15 worth) to get you up and running again.4 Some providers will even tow you to the nearest petrol station if they’re unable to get you fuelled up.5
Your provider can also send somebody out to jump-start your battery if it dies on you when you need it most. If it needs to be totally replaced, this might also be at your cost.
Keys seem to have a mind of their own. If your keys somehow end up locked inside your car, or if they get themselves lost (or stolen), then roadside assistance may be able to help by sending a locksmith.6 Alternatively, they might send a courier or a taxi to fetch a spare set for you.7
There’s only one way to make sure you’ll get the coverage you need—and it isn’t exactly exciting. As with any type of insurance cover, you’ll need to do your homework and look at all the terms, conditions and limitations on your roadside assistance included in your policy. For instance, you might ask your insurer the following:
Yes, it’s a lot to think about, but knowing this stuff will help you avoid getting stranded. Then you can hit the open road, knowing exactly how far you can travel before roadside assistance is out of range.
Some Car Insurance policies offer roadside assistance as an optional service.8 This means that there will usually be an extra cost on top of your premium. However, since roadside assistance is regarded as a separate service to Car Insurance, a callout usually won’t be counted as a claim.9 Still, it’s still best to check with your insurer—just in case.
Honestly, roadside assistance is a pretty big field to cover. We’ve scratched the surface, but there’s definitely a lot of questions about warranty and cost that still need answers. Let’s touch on the more obvious ones:
Honestly, this one’s pretty impossible to answer. It’ll depend on a bunch of factors including where you are located, the time of day and how many other calls they have at the time. But one thing is for sure, you could be waiting a lot longer if you don’t have roadside assistance!
If you’re looking for a Car Insurance policy that offers roadside assistance, then you’re in luck. iSelect compares all sorts policies from a range of different providers*—many of whom offer roadside assistance as an optional extra. So take us for a test drive and compare what’s on offer. You may just like what you find!
1 Budget Direct - Roadside assistance 101
2 Budget Direct - What does Roadside Assistance cover?
3 PD Insurance - Roadside Assistance
4 Virgin Money - Roadside Assistance (Page 11)
5 As above.
6 PD Insurance - Roadside Assistance
7 Budget Direct - What does Roadside Assistance cover?
8 Everyday Insurance from Woolworths - Car Insurance Product Disclosure Statement (Page 11)
9 Budget Direct - What is Roadside Assistance
10 Holden - Roadside Assistance
11 NRMA - Roadside assistance for electric vehicles
12 PD Insurance - Comprehensive Car Insurance
13 Budget Direct - How to Buy Roadside Assistance
14 Budget Direct - Your Roadside Assistance | Your Terms and Conditions (Pages 13-14)