Roadside Assistance

There you are, out on the open road enjoying a leisurely drive when you notice something concerning —a strange hissing sound that comes from under the bonnet. It’s situations like this that can make roadside assistance a worthwhile investment!
Young couple opening the doors to their car

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Updated 27/07/2023
What changed?
Updated FAQs including information on electric vehicles, caravans and cost.
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Written by

Francis Taylor

Updated 27/07/2023

What changed?

Updated FAQs including information on electric vehicles, caravans and cost.
Our aim is to help you make better informed decisions. That’s why iSelect’s content is produced in accordance with our fact-checking and editorial guidelines.

Edited by

Laura Crowden

Find out more about how we make money.

View our Privacy Policy.

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What is roadside assistance?

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.

How does roadside assistance work?

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: 

  1. Call the provider 
    After a breakdown or issue with your car, it’s important to get your provider on the phone. They’ll ask you a series of questions to try to pinpoint the problem. If you’re lucky, it might even be something minor that can be fixed with their guidance over the phone!
  2. Wait for help 
    If your problem needs a more hands-on approach, the provider will usually send out a roadside contractor or a tow truck to get you going again. If they can’t rectify the problem on the spot, they’ll arrange for your car to be towed. 

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. 

What does roadside assistance cover?

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

Flat tyres

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.

Emergency Fuel

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 

Flat batteries

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

How should I choose roadside assistance cover?

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: 

  • Is Roadside Assistance available 24/7? 
  • What’s the average response time for your roadside assistance? 
  • Is there a limit to how many callouts I can make? 
  • Do you have a technical advice hotline? 
  • Will I still be covered if I’m interstate? 
  • Is there a limit to the costs my provider will cover? 
  • How far will my provider travel to provide roadside assistance?

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. 

Is roadside assistance included as a part of Car Insurance?

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.

What else should I know about roadside assistance?

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: 

  • Do I need roadside assistance if my car is still under warranty? 
    It’s true that some cars come with roadside assistance as part of their new car warranty.10 However, you’ll still want to check what services are included and how long the benefits will last. 
  • Does roadside assistance cover electric vehicles? 
    This really depends on your provider. Some might be willing to send out someone who can charge your electric vehicle11 (EV) while others don’t offer this service. Here, it’s a good idea to ask the provider what they cover directly.
  • How much can roadside assistance cost? 
    Some insurers offer roadside assistance that starts at less than $100 a year.12 However, there are also providers who charge much more for roadside assistance and cover more services and higher costs. 
  • Are there waiting periods for roadside assistance?
    Again, this can depend on the provider. There definitely are some providers who apply a waiting period before your roadside assistance provides coverage (e.g. 48 hours after you buy roadside assistance).13 
  • Are trailers and caravans also covered? 
    Sorry, no easy answers here either! Some providers may include towing for your caravan or trailer as part of roadside assistance. Others won’t provide coverage, or they’ll require you to cover the cost of the callout.14 

How long will it take for roadside assistance to arrive?

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!

Where can I find Car Insurance with 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)