Roadside Assistance and Accident Information

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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Roadside assistance is a must-have for anyone who uses their car on a regular basis, especially if you don’t have 100% faith in your car’s engine and battery, or if your car is getting old and prone to mechanical problems.  There are numerous ways to obtain and maintain roadside assistance programs.

New Vehicle Purchase
You might have roadside assistance just through the purchase of a new vehicle.  When buying a new vehicle, make sure to ask the dealer about any manufacturer or dealer supplies roadside assistance packages.  This includes OnStar, which is included free for one year on all new GM vehicles, and which streamlines roadside assistance.  Most manufacturers will offer roadside assistance as part of their drivetrain warranties, as well.

Roadside Assistance Through Membership Clubs
Sam’s Club, and AARP offer roadside assistance plans for a small charge added to other membership plans.  Often these plans are contracted to national roadside assistance providers such as Road America.

Standalone Plans
The American Automobile Association, AAA, gives you the choice of a tow to the nearest repair facility, or to another location of your choice within a specified distance.  AAA also offers similar roadside assistance to Road America and other companies.

Through Your Insurer
Ask your insurance company about optional add-ons for roadside assistance.  Most insurers offer these types of plans, so be sure to ask and compare pricing between your insurer and an outside service.  Also make sure you’re not overlapping coverage and paying more than you need.

Services offered by most roadside assistance companies
The services offered by most roadside assistance companies run the gamut from the very small to the quite considerable. In cases where motorists have accidentally locked their keys inside their cars, need towing assistance, have run out of gas, or just have a flat tire, roadside assistance can help.

  • Towing
    • Most companies provide towing services, but some have different towing allowances. These are the distances that said companies’ tow truck will tow a stranded motorist’s car to the nearest service station for a flat fee. If a company’s tow truck must tow the vehicle beyond their limits, they will usually then charge an extra dollar amount per additional mile.
  • Battery jump start or replacement
  • Vehicle extraction and winching
  • Lockout service
    • If you’ve lost your key completely, most will unlock your car and provide a tow to a local dealer or repair shop who can re-key the car.
  • Flat tire assistance.
    • You should still see a body shop after you’ve had a flat fixed or patched, or if you’re driving on a small spare tire.
  • Fuel delivery
  • Minor roadside adjustments

Many companies also cap the number of times in a year that motorists can claim for roadside assistance in just one membership year: If this number is exceeded, the payment scheme becomes a “pay-as-you-go” basis. Other companies also provide reimbursement offers of various amounts to members who need assistance, yet are not helped because a provider is not available in a certain area.

What to keep in your glove box or trunk to assist you in an emergency situation
Even if a motorist enjoys roadside assistance coverage and service, the service may not get to them in time in the case of inclement weather. In these cases, it is extremely valuable to keep emergency items in the car in order to deal with whatever situation is being faced, at least until the roadside assistance service can get out to a stranded motorist.

What to keep inside a car’s trunk or glove box for an emergency situation revolves around a list that is quite extensive.  If you’re headed out on a long roadtrip into the wilderness, you might need everything on the list.  If you’re just travelling around town, a cell phone and a flashlight might be enough.  Here’s the complete list for anyone preparing for the carpocalypse:

  • Battery-operated radio
  • Blankets
  • Bottled water
  • Dry food and energy bars
  • WD-40
  • Jumper cables
  • Shovel
  • Cold-weather clothing like gloves and hats
  • A portable battery charger
  • Duct tape
  • Hose clamps
  • Zip ties
  • Rope or twine
  • Shears
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Pliers
  • Flashlight
  • Towels
  • First-aid kit

Accident checklist

  1. See if you or anyone else with you in the car was injured in the car accident. If anyone needs medical help, call 911 at once and do not move anyone if they are unconscious. In the unenviable event that someone must be moved, do make sure that their head and neck is supported at all times during the move.
  2. Secure yourself by getting out of the way of any traffic.
  3. Call 911 if the car accident involves injury or death.
  4. Get personal and contact information from other drivers and witnesses involved in the car accident.
  5. Get information from policemen, like their badge number, and their name.
  6. Record the car-accident information. This includes recording factors like the time and date of the accident as well as the specific model, year and make information of the cars involved.
  7. Shoot pictures of everything involved in the car accident. This includes taking photos of every driver and every car involved in the car accident. It further involves shooting pictures of such things as skid marks, signs of damage, and the site of the car accident.
  8. Make an appointment to see a doctor.
  9. Be sure to speak with your own insurance company before speaking with the other drivers’ company.
  10. Draw a car accident diagram.

Experiencing a roadside problem that necessitates roadside assistance can be a tricky and harrowing situation. The more prepared a motorist is, the better they will be able to emerge from the incident with their interests well-guarded. A sizable part of being well-prepared includes being a member of a good roadside assistance company.

To learn more about roadside assistance, consult this link.

How to use and pick a roadside assistance program wisely

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