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What You May Need When a Vehicle Breaksdown

Updated on March 10, 2019

Automotive Break-Downs and Accidents&Being Prepared!

Automotive Break-Downs and Accidents&Being Prepared!

At some point, everyone will experience their vehicles breaking down with either a major issue or something minor, such as a flat tire. Although most driver’s have memberships with motor clubs, or have road-side assistance subscriptions they belong to. Most Newer vehicles are typically enrolled into a road-side assistance plan, through the dealership as soon as they purchase their vehicles. Using these resources are invaluable for the vehicle owner. Whether the motorist is having minor vehicle breakdowns, or involved in an accident, being prepared is crucial to getting through the even, quickly and with the least amount of problems.

Being that I have worked with most of the different motor clubs, over the 30 plus years I have worked as a towing operator, I personally feel that A.A.A. is among the best in both coverage and customer support, available on the market. There are other things that are to benefit the consumer who subscribes to this agency, which are not seen, generally by the members that provides contract stations with ongoing training and quality control, not seen with other membership type road side assistance policies.

But, whether or not you have subscribed to A.A.A., or some other motor club, it is always best to have at least the minimum coverage, when a unplanned breakdown occurs. As in most people, I meet daily, they mostly have not used any or a limited amount of the auto clubs services, and are unaware of changes and benefits, that comes with their memberships, and whether or not there is an upgraded status, available to them which holds added benefits.

Preparing for anything (well almost anything)

Preparing for anything (well almost anything)

I have served many members, from almost all the motor clubs over the years. Mostly with the Automobile Club, these days, but I have been amazed by the number of members who have held onto the most basic of coverages, to keep costs down. They never realized that by spending a little more and upgrading their membership, will save them as much as what would be spent on just one Tow, or major service call, when compared to the actual market cost of paying for the service out of pocket.

Just a quick example: With the firm I work for, to respond to the most basic of calls is a tire change at the price of around 87.50, for one call.. Think of it, for that same amount of money, a AAA member can raise their basic coverage to a mid plan coverage. Okay, for a tow that travels over 7 miles, on the basic level, will normally cost an average of about $9.00 per mile. Well for 27 mile tow, a non-member will pay about $140.00. About what it would cost for the top of the line coverage for one person and a spouse, with lunch thrown in.

It is unlikely, anyone would drive out of their driveway, with a flat. It is almost as unlikely, anyone would plan on an accident, or the engine in their vehicle ceasing to work leaving them stranded. And it would be a good guess to say, no one goes out for a shopping trip expecting for their car not starting, when they get ready to go home.

Preparing for almost anything that can occur, as much as possible, can save you time and keep you safe and as comfortable as possible, while waiting for assistance. These suggestions are so simple, and so many times overlooked, leaving motorists wondering what was to come next.


Here are some items, which will be of great use for you, that can save time and reduce your frustration in a situation. But most of all they will go a long way, in keeping you and your passengers safe:

1 Sealing plastic baggy

2 3x5 index card

1 $10.00 pre-paid phone card

1 Disposable Camera

1 Can of Fix a Flat or Can of Air (for inflating tires)

2 Ink Pens

On on of the 3x5 cards, you will want to put the following information on it:

Your name, address, and phone number.

Name of Insurance Company with policy number, phone number and your agent’s name.

Name of Next of Kin, or Emergency contact numbers. (in the event your are not able to call and need someone else to make calls for you.)

Your Mechanic’s name and phone number, with the name of the facility where he/she is based.

You Physician’s phone number and name.

Your Health Insurance Information, such as policy number, and the name of your insurance Carrier with the group number.

Road Side Assistance Contact number

 The other card is for your convince of use, to write down information of other motorists and witnesses, should you be involved in an accident. The Disposable Camera, is for photo’s of an accident scene, your vehicle and the immediate surroundings of the incident as well as the people involved in the incident.

All of the above items should be placed into the plastic baggy, and placed in the glove compartment, of your vehicles, as should the pens.. The can of Fix a Flat/ Air in a Can, should be placed with your spare tire. This is to enable you to put air into the spare, should it be low on air, and unsafe to use when mounted on your vehicle.

Breaking down on the side of the road:

Breaking down on the side of the road:

Breaking down on the side of the road, or in a parking lot as well, is not fun. However, it does happen and being properly prepared and armed with the information to get you through the ordeal, will make the event more bearable.

Knowing your roadside assistance coverage and it's limitations, are very important, in the event your vehicle is disabled or worse, in a wreck. Now, I will discuss the disablement due to an accident, a bit later, but not knowing what potential costs associated with using your particular roadside assistance program can be devastating financially speaking. Waiting for the information, when you need it, in most cases is the most frustrating thing one can endure aside of the actual breakdown.

if you don’t have the information you need to call for assistance, then you are truly not going to be in a good situation. Park as far off the road as you safely can, to remove yourself out of traffic lanes. Should your vehicle get a flat tire, while you are driving, don not stop in traffic lanes.. Get the vehicle off the road, no matter the damage to the rim or the remaining part of the tire, get off to the shoulder or into a parking lot; if possible.

Place your vehicle transmission into park and leave it there. Put on the parking brake, if you are on an incline. Now this may seem simple. However, You have no idea of how many people leave the vehicle in neutral, while the tow operator is trying to hook the vehicle up. This places everyone in a potential harmful situation, not to mention the vehicle can roll down a hill or into traffic. And it also causes problems when the tow operator tries to back up to hook up the vehicle.

Should Your Vehicle Be Involved In Any Accidents:

Hopefully, you will never have to endure the stress and potential injuries, which could come from an automobile accident. But reality suggests that there is always a chance of this occurring. Should this occur, before you take anything here as “Gospel”, listen to Law Enforcement first and foremost, over anything suggested here. There is a Time and Place for everything. The law enforcement personnel will assist you, in deciding when these steps can be followed.

However, should the police agency not be immediately available find a safe place to park and get out of traffic as safely as possible. Once you have parked, you can then proceed in locating the pack you put together and in your trunk or glove box.

I can not stress enough, to ensure that before you start gathering information on the accident, that you and the other vehicle are in a safe area. Once you are sure you are going to be safe, you can start gathering information, which is going to be needed by your insurance company. You will want to gather the following:

License plates of the vehicles involved

Vehicle which came into contact with your vehicle

All other vehicles in the position where the incident came to rest

Your vehicle’s damage

Damage done to the vehicle which came into contact with your vehicle.

Take pictures of the driver’s of the vehicles involved. (try to keep the pictures of the person(s), near their own vehicles. This will allow you to keep the driver’s and party’s involved in order, for the police report and for the courts.

Give your information to other drivers, on a separate piece of paper. Normally, you can ask others for a piece of paper and someone will have something to give to the other driver(s). This prevents them from getting information on the other card.

When The Tow Truck Arrives:

When The Tow Truck Arrives:

In most cases, the Police Agency on scene will call for a "Rotation Listed" Towing Company, to come and assist in clearing any accident scenes and to tow the vehicles involved and that requires to be assisted. Again, IN most cases, the Towing Operator arrives on scene with no initial intent on speaking to the individuals involved with the accident, unless directed to do so by law enforcement. Now, do not be upset because the Tow Operator is most likely going to ignore you, as he begins hooking the vehicles up and cleaning the scene up, removing the debris from the accident.

Once the Towing Company Driver completes the initial clean up and hooking the car up, he or she will turn their attention to you and your family, as needed to fill your requests and answer your questions; As well as asking required questions to assess how best to serve your needs. At this time, he will most likely ask whether you have full coverage or liability coverage on your insurance policy. Typically, he is not interested in what auto club you belong to, unless you only have liability coverages, and not full coverage on your vehicle.

Now the reasoning for this, is sometimes not apparent to you, at first. However explaining that with full coverage, towing is more often included in your coverage when an accident occurs and not when you experience a break down, which is when your automobile roadside assistance comes into play. Now, your insurance company will argue this point at times. Let it be known that like you and I, the insurance agent or person on the phone, will be wanting to save money so they will try and encourage you to use the alternate roadside assistance program for the towing. Do not fall for this ploy, as you pay for your full coverage monthly and are contractually able to access the towing via the insurance company, should an accident occur.

Should you only be covered for liability, you have no choice but to use an automobile club membership, or pay for the services rendered by the towing company at higher than normal rates. why the higher rate? Well, in most cases, the towing company is contractually obligated to charge certain rates, with the law enforcement agency to obtain a rotation status. This is to prevent gouging and keep rates uniform among the various towing companies on the rotation schedule. However, by using the auto club policy, or roadside assistance policy, the towing only is covered, and in many cases such things as speed dry for oil, grease, radiator and transmission fluids, winching and accident recovery efforts are not covered and must be paid for, out of pocket.

After the vehicle is picked up, he/she will probably ask you where to take the vehicle. By use of the index card, you do not have to think, you will have the address and shop name where to have the vehicle taken to. In event of an accident, the towing driver will suggest a body shop, or repair facility; should he/she see you are not sure or want to take the vehicle home.

As a normal course of events, the driver will suggest those vehicles which are fully covered, through your regular insurance company, that the vehicle should go to the tow company yard. Typically, this is the best solution if the vehicle is inoperable, or is significantly damaged. By taking the vehicle to the towing yard, it forces the insurance company to act swiftly. Additionally, it allows for centralized logistically quicker movement to a body shop for repairs. Instead of having the vehicle linger in your yard, while your insurance company drags their feet, getting out to adjust the claim and then takes more time to arrange for the outbound towing to the repair facility.

I hope this has been helpful. It may be a good idea to contact your insurance company and if applicable, contact your roadside assistance and ask about actual coverages in the event of an accident. This will go a long way in developing a plan should such an event occur.

Get the most out of your AAA membership


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