Roadside Assistance is like a very good friend that you hardly ever contact but when you need him in a crisis, he is always there for you. Roadside assistance often forms part of a bigger Emergency Assistance program. These have become very popular and are even offered by cellular phone companies and clothing stores. They may be advertised as a free benefit but you probably pay for it in one way or another.
Emergency assistance can include, other than roadside assistance, medical and trauma assistance, home assistance in the form of emergencies with plumbing, electricity or locksmiths or even legal advice. Car insurance policies can also include emergency assistance programs and it is always included when you take out comprehensive insurance cover. Some insurers also include this when you have third party, fire and theft cover.
So, what is roadside assistance?
Different items or events are covered under roadside assistance. Conditions apply to certain forms of emergency assistance but, as we’ll see, ultimately you get enough help to see you through most emergencies. In essence, roadside assistance gets you through the worst of a bad situation and puts you in a position to be able to help yourself. Conditions will include the overall monetary limit on benefits available under this section, R7 500 seems to be an average amount amongst insurance companies. There will also be limit on the number of call outs, after that number has been reached you will still receive assistance but it will be for your own account.
Essential questions to ask about roadside assistance
1· What is the maximum financial benefit I qualify for per year?
2· What are the financial limitations per incident?
3· Does my specific policy affect the level of roadside assistance I receive free?
4· What are the costs if I require more assistance than is covered by my policy?
5· How many times a year may I request assistance generally and/ or per type of emergency?
Forms of roadside assistance
The help offered in the following emergency scenarios may vary but this list will give you not only a good idea of what is on offer, but what you might need and therefore how to choose an insurer to suit your personal circumstances. For instance, if you travel a lot, you will want to be covered if you’re ever stranded on a long, dark and lonely Karoo road in the middle of the night.
1. Flat tyre repair
2. Flat battery recharge
3. Keys locked in car
4. Running out of fuel
5. Car rental , usually only for 24 hours
6. Overnight accommodation if you’re stuck a long way from home (usually 100 km from home OR courtesy transport OR car hire
7. Towing services to a car repair workshop and free storage for a specified time period
8. Direction service
9. Mechanic referral
10. Notification and message service for family or business
11. Returning the car to you after repair has been effected
Accident, Medical and Trauma Assistance
1. Towing to the nearest approved panelbeater/yard after an accident
2. Advice on accident procedure to follow
3. Emergency telephonic assistance
4. Response by road or air ambulance
5. Transfer to the most appropriate medical facility
6. Lifesaving medication or blood transfer
7. Care for stranded minors
8. Repatriation of mortal remains
9. Counselling at recognized trauma centres
10. Assistance with preparation for court appearances
11. Referral to support groups
Do I qualify?
Check your car insurance policy and familiarize yourself with the details of your contract. Roadside assistance can mean the difference between life and death. If you often travel alone and over long distances you should see this is mandatory insurance cover.