If you've ever locked your keys in the car or had a flat car battery, you'd appreciate the convenience of roadside assistance.
Roadside assistance, also known as breakdown cover, is a service that provides assistance to motorists, who have become stranded as a result of mechanical failure or other vehicle-related issues.
The service is often provided through the motorist's car insurance policy as an add-on cost, which is paid annually.
Some car insurance providers even offer the service free-of-charge to policy holders, as an extra incentive to lure or retain customers.
Others offer discounted introductory rates, such as 'three months free cover' to win new business.
How it works
Membership usually entitles the customer to 24/7 roadside assistance or advice over the phone.
A motorist will contact their provider with an explanation of the incident, before a mechanic or service operator is dispatched to attend the vehicle.
Some of the main reasons to call for roadside assistance include:
- breakdown towing - if your car is broken down and you need it towed to a mechanic to be fixed
- flat battery assistance - mobile mechanic can replace your flat battery or charge it up on the spot
- flat or damaged tyre assistance - they can patch up and pump your tyres with enough life to drive it to a mechanic for repair or replacement
- emergency fuel supply - if you are out of petrol they can provide you with enough to get you to a petrol station
- key retrieval - if you've lost or locked your keys in the car they can retrieve them
With so many car insurance companies offering roadside assistance on the market, competition to win your business is high, which is great news for drivers.
Many providers of roadside assistance also offer policy holders with special member benefits, such as road maps, motoring magazines and discounts on car servicing and petrol, among other things.
There are often a number of conditions and exclusions for each policy, and exclusions often come into play when the driver is at fault for the incident or if you are towing non-regulation trailers or caravans, for instance.
So it's important to read the provider's Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before signing up for roadside assistance and compare policies online to ensure you're getting the best deal for your situation.