Roadside assistance: What you need to know

Your bona fide roadside guide

I’m a roadside assistance call waiting to happen. I don’t do a great job with regular maintenance and my car lacks some of the must-have safety supplies that could help me get moving if I ever broke down.

Somehow, I’ve only had two flat tires in my life, only one of which required roadside service. But I know it’s going to happen. Even if it never does, spending a few bucks to have road assistance seems like a good investment for the peace of mind.

So, I strongly recommend having a roadside option, whether you get it through insurance or a third-party company. Progressive even offers an option to add Emergency Roadside Assistance coverage to your policy—call us or talk to your agent to learn more.

So, what does Roadside Assistance cover?

Programs vary, but, as a general guide, let’s look at what Progressive’s offers:

  • Towing service—If your car breaks down or you get a flat, this will come in handy. Assuming it can’t be fixed where you’re stopped, you’ll get a tow.
  • Flat tire change—As mentioned above, I’ve been here…twice. The second time, I needed professional help, and that’s what this gives you.
  • Battery jump-start—Don’t have jumper cables or don’t know (I don’t….and I don’t), a technician will come out and jump your car.
  • Locksmith service—Did you lock yourself out of your car, and you’re too embarrassed to call your spouse for a spare key? I’ll go on record saying you should give him or her a call, but if you can’t, a Roadside Assistance call can help you get back in your vehicle. You pay the price of the spare key, but you do get to keep it.
  • Fuel delivery—I’m one of those people who freaks out when I get down to a quarter tank of gas, but my wife likes to live dangerously and go until the warning light glows. She will use this coverage one day. And, on that day, I will laugh.

So how do you use it?

What most (if not all) roadside programs have in common is that “help is a call away.”

If you add Progressive’s Roadside Assistance program to your policy, you just call 1-800-776-2778. Progressive will send a service provider to get you up and running as soon as possible. Once the provider takes care of your car, you just sign the invoice and drive away. Progressive pays the bill, and you pay nothing out of pocket (unless you request work that isn’t related to the breakdown or you require new parts). If you forget to call Progressive or don’t have the number handy, don’t sweat it. Just save your receipt or invoice and you can mail it in for a reimbursement.

There are a few conditions. For instance, in most states, you have to have Comprehensive and Collision coverage on the vehicle to add Roadside Assistance. And, there may be a limit to the number of times you can receive the “nothing-out-of-pocket” assistance within a policy period. Your policy contract will have the details.

Again, even if I never use my roadside coverage, I sleep better at night knowing I have it. For me, it’s like a bit of insurance for being a less-than-perfect car owner.