Insurance today comes in all sorts of types. One question that might come up is whether breakdown insurance and roadside assistance are the same thing. While there are resemblances between the two, they are not the same type of insurance.
Roadside assistance helps with all those miserable little things that can go wrong. There is a well-known adage that runs, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” With automobiles and people, there are so many things that can go wrong. They range from the simple things like locking yourself out of the vehicle to the new tire that goes flat within the first ten miles of purchasing it. They can include running out of gas, losing a spark plug, overheating or a rundown battery. These simple things don’t necessarily even require mechanical skills, they just require someone reliable to come along and fix them. Roadside assistance insurance provides the “someone reliable” to bring a can of gas, to transport a replacement tire, to contact a locksmith or other simple sorts of assistance.
Roadside assistance doesn’t always cover the cost of parts but it does often cover up to one hour of labor to take care of simple fixes such as jumpstarting a battery or changing a tire. It can also include towing to the nearest available auto repair shop when the problem doesn’t yield to simple repairs. It can mean the difference between being back on the road in hours at minimal cost or being held up for as long as a day while a remedy is found.
Breakdown insurance might help when you have major mechanical troubles in the middle of nowhere. Given Murphy’s Law, if your motor is due to throw a rod, it’s likely to do it on the loneliest stretch of road available at the farthest distance from help. In many cases, there’s coverage for towing but breakdown insurance won’t cover jumpstarts, unlocking your vehicle, changing tires or similar small events.
However, breakdown insurance doesn’t necessarily apply only to the “breakdown” that occurs out in the middle of nowhere. It can also apply to that funny pinging noise that turns out to be a loose piston or the strange reluctance that your vehicle has developed when shifting from first to second gear. Breakdown insurance can apply to major repairs such as a motor rebuild or transmission replacement.
Insurance vs. Warranty
Breakdown insurance is similar to an extended warranty in what it covers, but it’s often far less expensive. More than that, insurance is typically paid out over several months whereas an extended warranty must be paid all at once upfront unless it’s rolled into your monthly vehicle payments.
If you need an analogy for the difference between roadside assistance and breakdown insurance, look at it as if an auto mechanic were a doctor for your vehicle. Roadside assistance is sort of like the first responder who can come along and check you over, then recommend a band-aid, aspirin and a cup of tea or declare that it is time to get out the gurney (tow truck) and send you off to the hospital (auto mechanic). Breakdown insurance is more like major hospital coverage. It’s set up to help take the sting out of the big bills and to help you keep your favorite vehicle on the road for a few more miles.
Needs, Age of Auto, and Your Driving Patterns
Mechanical breakdown insurance or roadside assistance isn’t necessary for everyone, and not every vehicle will qualify for mechanical breakdown insurance. Knowing your needs, your dependency on your vehicle and how far you are likely to be from help on a regular basis can drive your insurance purchases.