Everything You Need to Know about Roadside Assistance

For many Australian drivers, the open road is a symbol of freedom and opportunity. However, unexpected vehicle breakdowns can quickly turn a journey sour. This is where roadside assistance comes into play—a service designed to help when you’re stranded due to car trouble. This article explores the ins and outs of roadside assistance in Australia, from costs and coverage to its overall value for drivers.

What is Roadside Assistance?

Roadside assistance is a service provided to motorists who find themselves stranded due to vehicle breakdowns. It’s a safety net for issues like flat tyres, dead batteries, empty fuel tanks, or mechanical failures. In Australia, this service is often a lifeline, given the vast distances between destinations.

Functions and Features

The primary function of roadside assistance is to get you back on the road. Services typically include:

  • Towing
  • Battery jump-starts
  • Emergency fuel delivery
  • Flat tyre replacement
  • Lockout service

A Brief History in Australia

Roadside assistance began as a supportive service offered by motoring clubs, such as the National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) and Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), providing peace of mind to members during the early days of motoring in Australia.

The Cost of Roadside Assistance

Typical Costs

The cost of roadside assistance in Australia can vary widely depending on the provider and level of coverage. It often ranges from a basic package costing around AUD 50 to more comprehensive options exceeding AUD 300 annually.

Comparing Providers

Several major providers offer roadside assistance in Australia.

Each has different pricing tiers and services, making it essential to compare what’s included in each package.

What Roadside Assistance Entails

Exploring Coverage

Roadside assistance coverage can vary, but here are some common services included:

  • Towing: If your car can’t be fixed on the spot, it’ll be towed to a nearby mechanic.
  • Battery Services: Dead batteries can be jump-started, or in some cases, replaced on the spot.
  • Tyre Services: Flat or damaged tyres will be replaced with your spare.
  • Emergency Fuel: If you run out of fuel, enough will be provided to get you to the nearest petrol station.
  • Lockout Services: If you’re locked out, assistance will be provided to gain entry to your vehicle.

Weighing the Investment

Many drivers ponder whether the cost of roadside assistance is justified. The value lies in the security it provides; knowing that you can receive help anywhere in Australia, especially in remote locations, can be incredibly reassuring. However, if you drive a new car with less chance of breakdown, or you’re a city dweller with easy access to services, you might weigh the cost-benefit differently.

Pros and Cons


  • 24/7 assistance and peace of mind
  • Potentially saves money on towing and locksmith services
  • Adds convenience for busy individuals or those less mechanically savvy


  • Annual or monthly fees, regardless of usage
  • Coverage limits that may incur additional costs
  • Service may be slower in remote areas

Payment and Subscription Details

Understanding Payment Models

Roadside assistance programs typically operate on an annual subscription model. Some providers also offer pay-per-use services, which can be beneficial for those who prefer not to commit to a yearly fee.

Membership Models

Memberships usually come in different tiers, allowing drivers to choose a level of service that suits their needs and budget. Higher tiers offer more comprehensive services, such as longer towing distances or accommodation benefits if you’re stranded far from home.

Utilising Roadside Assistance for Others

Assistance for Others

Most roadside assistance services allow you to use your coverage to help someone else, such as a family member or friend in need. This is particularly useful if you have loved ones who do not have their own coverage.

Policy Limitations

While you can use your service for others, limitations may apply. It’s always best to check with your provider to understand the scope of your coverage and any potential extra costs involved.

Cancelling Roadside Assistance Plans

Cancelling Your Plan

If you decide that roadside assistance isn’t for you, or you wish to switch providers, cancelling is usually straightforward. For example, with NRMA, you can typically cancel over the phone or online, though terms and conditions—and any potential fees—should be reviewed in your contract.

Considerations Before Cancelling

Before cancelling, consider the potential risks and how you would manage without the service. Also, look into whether you’re entitled to any partial refunds based on your usage or the time left in your subscription.

Roadside Assistance Without Insurance

Non-Insurance Options

Roadside assistance isn’t exclusive to car insurance policies. Standalone services are available, meaning you can have roadside assistance even if your car isn’t insured. This can be particularly useful for older cars, which may not be worth insuring comprehensively.

Differences in Coverage

Standalone roadside assistance may differ slightly from that bundled with insurance, often providing more focused services without the broader context of an insurance claim.

Roadside Assistance for Multiple Vehicles

Using Your Coverage for Different Cars

 Policies usually allow the use of roadside assistance services for any car you’re driving at the time of the incident—not just the one listed on the policy. This flexibility is handy for families with multiple vehicles or for those who frequently drive different cars.

Provider Policies

It’s important to verify this with your provider, as some may have restrictions or require additional fees for multi-vehicle coverage.


Roadside assistance can be a valuable service for many Australian drivers, offering support and convenience in times of need. Whether it’s worth the cost depends on your personal circumstances, how much you drive, and where you travel. Assessing your needs and comparing different providers will ensure you find a service that offers the best value for your situation.

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