What is Roadside Assistance in Car Insurance?

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Last evening I and my husband went for a long drive in the cool weather. What was planned to be a relaxing time spent together became a nightmare when our car broke down midway and that too on a deserted part of the road.

After endless efforts of trying to get the car to move, we called one of our friends who obliged us by picking us up and taking us to a nearest garage where the mechanic helped us tow our car to the garage to get it fixed. Our Sunday was ruined and so when I heard about roadside assistance facility from our mechanic I did some research.

Turned out that insurers provide Roadside Assistance as an add-on cover in their car insurance policies where by paying a minimal amount, you can insure yourself against the hassles faced if your car breaks down due to any reason and you get stranded.

What happened with me is not a standalone incident. Car breakdowns happen with most of the car-owners. Be it due to battery issues or engine issues, car breakdown in the middle of your journey proves cumbersome. As such, insuring against such contingency is a prudent choice.

Nowadays, motor insurance providers have Roadside Assistance facility as an add-on cover that can be attached to the basic policy for a more comprehensive coverage. The premium involved is very low and so it also takes care of the affordability factor.

Certain insurers like Reliance General Insurance has even gone a step further to offer the add-on cover as an inbuilt complimentary cover with all car insurance plans offered either bought through an agent or online. The feature is called ‘Anywhere Assist’ and helps in case of any breakdown and that too free of cost.

Other insurers, however, offer this feature as an add-on cover which is optional depending on the policyholder’s choice. The premium charged depends on many factors which primarily include the age of the car, older the car, more the chance of mechanical failures, higher the premium.

Now let us take a peek into what the coverage promises to provide. Though the scope of coverage varies from insurer to insurer, there are some coverage features which are universally available like:

  • Battery Breakdown – this is to provide for battery breakdown and where the battery needs a jump start
  • Minor repairs – the insurer sends mechanics to take care of minor breakdowns faced by you.
  • Flat tyre – let’s face it, flat tyres are as common as the common cold. So when you have a flat tyre, a call to the insurer will ensure that help comes to you
  • Towing – when your car breaks down, towing may be required to tow it to the nearest garage or workshop of your choice. This facility is also provided under the cover.
  • Provision of spare keys – as silly as it may sound; some of us accidently leave our keys inside the car and lock it behind us. In that case and even in case the car keys are lost, a spare key is provided to resolve the issue
  • Fuel provision – in case you face an empty tank midway the journey, the insurer sends fuel supply so that you don’t have to search for the petrol station which may not be available for miles

Certain other features are available and are unique to certain plans like:

  • Accommodation – in case of a major car breakdown which takes considerable time to be repaired, the insurer may also provide for hotel accommodation.
  • Alternate transport – along with hotel accommodation, transport facility like a hired cab is also provided for transportation to the hotel or garage.
  • Guidance for minor faults – if your car is experiencing minor defects, the insurer may also provide guidance on the phone in case you are not ready to wait for the mechanic.

Though, the roadside assistance cover provides for the above mentioned coverages, yet, it should be kept in mind that the charges for availing the services need to be met form your pocket and the insurer merely facilitates availability. For instance, in case of fuel provision, the insurer will send you fuel supply but the charge of the fuel will be paid by you, or in case of towing, the garage and mechanic expenses need to borne by the policyholder.

However, besides the charges involved, having a roadside assistance cover is beneficial because it cuts down on the hassles involved by providing ready availability of service. You will anyhow have to bear the fuel or mechanic’s expense yourself even without the cover but at least the cover will ensure prompt service.

So, today when cars have become almost a necessity for the modern man and insurance is mandatory for all cars, it is always best to ensure a comprehensive coverage for an all-round protection through various add-on covers available with insurers, roadside assistance being one of them.

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