Every winter, I make the 180 mile trek from San Francisco to Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe to enjoy the epic snow. There is truly nothing more magical than spending hours riding on powder and having a beer or two in the outdoor hot tub when you’re finished! Oh, the stories I could tell you about what happens in the hot tub.
On the other hand, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting a flat tire at night in the mountains while it’s snowing. I know how to change a tire, but I sure as hell don’t plan to risk my life changing a tire in darkness on a one lane road in the mountains while cars zoom by. I might get a nice settlement if I do get into an accident. But, I also might lose a leg in the process!
Every month, I spend 98 cents to get roadside assistance insurance for Moose. Add up the cost over 84 months of ownership, and we’re talking $83 worth of premiums. And you know what? My roadside assistance insurance is worth every penny! I already mentioned how my alternator died just as I was pulling into my garage thank goodness. A tow truck came when I got back from vacation to follow me to my mechanic thanks to roadside assistance. What I haven’t told you about are my other more traumatic incidences!
IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT
Before Moose, there was Sherman, a beautiful two-door, 1989 BMW 635i coupe. He was champaign in color, with immaculate 18″ wheels and tinted windows. Every time I drove Sherman, I felt like a mafia don warped back in time. I bought him for a mere $2,400 and ended up investing $1,000 to get everything right, or so I thought!
I was driving back from Berkeley in the dumping rain when my brakes suddenly STOPPED WORKING! My heart panicked as I could see traffic start to bunch up about a quarter mile ahead so I immediately released the gas pedal.
I started weaving left to right to buy more travel time so Sherman would eventually come to a halt. I was only about ~60 feet away before I going to crash into a shiny new Mercedes when I saw a safety turnoff. Luckily, I managed to guide Sherman past the cars whizzing by to my right to come to a complete stop in the gravel pit.
My hands were shaking as I put both of them together and thanked my lucky stars. After staring dumbfoundly at the dashboard, which by now let up like a Christmas tree, I called roadside assistance for help. The rain was still pouring down as I waited for 40 minutes until a flatbed tow truck came. He hoisted Sherman up and I rode in the front. “Having a bad day?“, the driver asked as we headed towards my mechanic.
I WOULD HAVE PAID SO MUCH MORE
If it wasn’t for roadside assistance, I’d probably just sit there like a vegetable for a while. Maybe the Bridge Authority would have come out to finally help. I guess my marbles would have returned to eventually call for a tow truck before the age of smartphones. The tow would have cost me at least $300 + mileage to get Sherman back to the City. With roadside assistance, I didn’t have to pay a penny.
People who don’t have roadside assistance don’t understand how difficult the situation can be until they are in a bind. There is something priceless by just dialing your insurance company’s roadside assistance hotline to get someone over within an hour. Then there is the obvious monetary savings as well. I’ve needed roadside assistance six times in the past 11 years. The 98 cents a month I pay is nothing!
Here are some conditions which should propel you to get roadside assistance:
* If you drive to work
* If you drive long distances to work
* If you drive in inclement weather
* If you drive an old car
* Your car has a history of maintenance problems
* You bought a second hand car and don’t know its full history
* If you have no clue on how to fix or maintain your car
* If you enjoy peace of mind
With winter coming, I encourage everybody to call their insurance company to add on roadside assistance. At least inquire about the costs and benefits. If the $5-10 a month is too much, take it off once better weather returns!
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Updated for 2015 and beyond