A breakdown or flat battery can spoil a day, or ruin a holiday. Roadside assistance plans can give you peace of mind that if you're ever stranded you can get professional help without having to shell out huge amounts on the spot.
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Before shelling out for a motoring club membership, you might want to check if you already have roadside assistance included with your car insurance or new car after-sales service.
All roadside assistance programs offer the same basic service:
Extra featuresthat come with more expensive plans include "health checks" for yourvehicle, child seat installation, accommodation if you break down away fromhome, and a hire car if your car can't be repaired quickly.
Some providers have weight restrictions for their cheaper options, so ifyou have a trailer or caravan, 4WD or motor home you'll probably need tolook for a more expensive plan. The same goes if you do a lot oftravelling: these options usually have higher benefits for accommodationand towing outside metro areas.
If you live in the country or you travel a lot, then you should consider opting for a higher level of cover.
As you'd expect, more expensive plans tend to come with more bells andwhistles than you get with a budget plan. Top shelf plans tend to havehigher benefits, as well as extra features that go beyond simply gettingyour car back on the road:
If you live in a city, a budget plan might be enough to suit your needs.But if you live in the country or you travel a lot, then you shouldconsider opting for a higher level of cover.
Rear-ended another car? Call your insurer. Left the lights on overnight and drained your battery? Call roadside assistance. Need help, such as towing and emergency transport, immediately after an incident? Both roadside assistance and car insurance offer similar services.
The key difference is that car insurance doesn't cover you for mechanical failure or breakdowns, which is why roadside assistance exists. They work hand in hand so that, no matter the reason your car won't go, you have someone to call who can get you on the road again.
If your car needs to be taken to a mechanic after a breakdown, you're liable for the repair bill. But if it's taken to a mechanic following an accident, the insurer will cover most of the repair costs.
Some car manufacturers offer roadside assistance for new vehicles, often under the proviso that you get the vehicle serviced regularly at the company's dealership or service centre. Some companies provide new car roadside assistance for up to 10 years from purchase.
Hyundai, Ford and Holden offer roadside assistance through each state's motoring club (NRMA, RACV, RACQ, etc). This cover is included in the cost of an annual service at their dealerships. Every time you get your car serviced there, it extends the cover for another twelve months. If you need to get a tow, in most cases your car will be taken to nearest dealership or authorised service centre.
Some car companies offer roadside assistance as part of a wider suite of after-sale services (especially for luxury cars), while others, such as Honda, will bundle it with an extended warranty. Toyota sells roadside assistance as an add-on.
These options often provide little more than the cover sold by car insurers or motoring clubs. So if you're after extra features like locksmith services or a car rental benefit, you may need to keep looking.
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