Prepare for Travel Problems
Whether you are on the road commuting every day, or rack up most of your travel miles while on vacation, it pays to have some form of roadside assistance service at your command. Even if you know how to change a flat tire and maintain your vehicle in prime running condition, the unexpected can and does occur when you are least prepared. The very minimum that you should always have with you for dealing with the unexpected is a cell phone. In 2007, 81% of Americans owned a cell phone, up 20% from 2002. There are those who resist purchasing cell phones for various reasons. Just keeping one in your car for emergencies should be abundant justification for owning one. It’s an extra little battery-powered car insurance that could save your assets in a pinch.
Going Beyond the Basics
Roadside assistance service plans come in many sizes and descriptions, and from many sources, including credit card companies, cell phone providers, and auto insurance companies. Everyone is aware of the plans offered by a number of automobile and travel clubs, like AAA. From $35 to upwards of $100, they go beyond the basic towing service to assist you in all sorts of situations, from key replacement to planning the route for your next excursion.
Know What Emergency Service You Need
Not everyone needs the OnStar Car Safety and Security System, and conversely, opting for only a towing service may not be enough. Make sure you know how much roadside assistance you will need and verify that the plan you buy will fit your needs. It’s time to break out the magnifying glass and read the fine print. Some plans cover you, no matter which car you are driving. Some plans only cover a specified vehicle. To receive a tow, certain conditions must apply, such as distance from a participating repair shop.
Roadside Assistance, Who Ya Gonna Call?
In the event of a mechanical problem or other difficulty with your car, use the phone number that you should be carrying to call for help. The service that you purchased may be from one of a dozen providers who do not actually do the work. Many of these smaller organizations may outsource your calls to larger ones like AAA. In the best of all worlds, you should receive service within a reasonable period of time. Try not to use your roadside assistance service if you can fix that flat or resolve the problem yourself, especially if your plan is piggy-backed onto your auto insurance policy. The less you use your roadside assistance service, the lower your auto insurance rates will stay.
The Essential Roadside Services
Nobody will debate the benefit of having towing service available in the middle of the night on a lonely road, but there are a few other “essentials” that a useful roadside assistance service plan should deliver. Ever lock your keys in the car? Even if you have a roadside assistance plan, such as the one available from Progressive Insurance, buy a magnetic key holder to hide a spare key inside the wheel well of your vehicle, just in case. Flat tire repair: $0; battery jump start: $0; fuel delivery when you run out: $0; your road assistance plan: priceless.