Do you have Emergency Roadside Service included in your policy? Have you ever had to use it before? We wanted to explain how it works when you need to use the emergency roadside service piece of your policy and what to expect.
When you call in to your insurance carrier whether it be after hours or during regular business hours you will be routed to a call center to file a roadside service claim and start a tow truck headed your way. You may have a good or bad experience depending on how that persons day is going in the call center.
Once you have given them your policy number, VIN, current location, and where you want the car to be towed that insurance company then OUTSOURCES the tow to a local “vendor” they have partnered with. None of these insurance companies own their own towing company. Instead, they have a massive list from all over the U.S. of towing companies that they pay to come service you in your time of need.
HERE is the kicker. If you have ever read into your policy and looked at the emergency roadside assistance stipulation, your insurance company usually puts a dollar amount they cover PER tow. Usually $60-$75 per town which gets you about 15 miles from wherever you are.
Now, when “Local Towing Company A” receives this call from the insurance carrier telling them to go pick you up, the tow truck company can accept or refuse the tow. Once they accept, let’s say they have a driver 30 minutes away from your location, THAT DRIVER MAY GET ANOTHER CALL WHILE ON THE WAY. HERE IS WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES.
Insurance companies, to mitigate their costs, work a deal with the towing companies and say we will give you business, but we want a preferred rate. So, while “Local Towing Company A” is in route to you THEY GET ANOTHER CALL, and if that person isn’t using insurance, they can charge them more money. These tow companies will either not show up without warning or, attempt to go do the other tow while keeping you waiting on the side of the road so they can don’t miss out on business. Unfortunately, this is common and is the main reason why wait times vary from 60 minutes to 180 minutes.
Also, something to consider is availability. You may think being closer to a big city would get you assistance the quickest but sometimes towing companies are so busy during the day it can take hours for them to get to you. Holidays can also be a tough time to get roadside assistance as there is less tow truck drivers working.
We have two solutions that we suggest.
- Get Triple A. for roadside service. It usually only costs somewhere in the $100-$200 range for the whole year but IT IS WORTH IT in a time of need. They are an actual towing company and do not outsource their tows to other local tow companies. They may still take a long time depending on availability, but we believe they can be more reliable than your insurance ERS option.
- Call a tow truck company and pay for it out of pocket then get reimbursed on the back end by your insurance agent. If you call a tow truck company personally, they will likely give you precedence over the other stranded drivers using their insurance. (CLEAR THIS with your agent when you buy your policy to ensure you can get reimbursed. Most companies will do this with no problem but you have to HAVE the coverage on your policy in the first place.)