If you need roadside assistance to get you running again, make sure you're in a safe place before you take the time to call.

How RV Roadside Assistance Works: 5 Steps to Get the Service You Need

The unfortunate has happened- you’ve unknowingly steered your RV into a minefield of potholes, and one of them finally did your tires in. Now that you’re on the side of the road, how do you get your roadside assistance company to help? Understanding how roadside assistance works will prepare you for the inevitable and hopefully lead to less stress during your emergency situation.

Before we continue, remember that if your vehicle is disabled due to a collision, accident, etc., you should contact your insurance provider first. Not quite sure what qualifies as an insurance claim versus a roadside assistance claim? Take a look at your insurance coverage and compare it to your roadside assistance plan. Contact your insurance provider to clarify any grey areas you may find!

Highway signs are a great way to tell roadside assistance operators where you're located in the event of a breakdown.

First Things First: Figure Out Where You Are

Your first instinct is probably to call your roadside assistance provider. But before you call, take a look around and figure out where you are. While many companies now ask if they can ping your phone to get your GPS location, it still helps to have physical landmarks they can share with any service provider they send your way.

  • What road or street are you on?
  • Which direction are you heading? This is particularly important if you’re on a divided highway or interstate.
  • Are you near a mile marker, or do you remember the last one you passed?
  • Are there any landmarks you can share with the representative on the phone to help them locate you? Look for businesses, highway exit signs, possible cross streets, maybe even construction zones or billboards.

Now, SAFELY Assess the Damage

If you can do so safely, take a look at your vehicle to review what all damage may need to be addressed. For example, you may think you’ve just blown your tire, but once you look closer, your axle is now bent or your fender/quarter panel may be bent and now obstructs your tire’s movement. If you find issues such as this, your assistance request has escalated from replacing a flat tire to getting a roadside technician or calling for a tow instead of a repair. Having an idea of what all you’re up against will help your roadside provider serve you more efficiently and avoid 2nd or 3rd calls to other companies to fully resolve your situation.

If you are in a situation where it isn’t safe to walk around your vehicle, please don’t take that risk. Instead, note what you do know such as what you saw in the road before the incident, any sounds that seemed more than a blown tire, any monitors or signals your vehicle gives you, etc. Have that information ready to share when you call your roadside assistance provider.

If you need roadside assistance to get you running again, make sure you're in a safe place before you take the time to call.

Then You’re Ready to Call Your Roadside Assistance Provider

Once you have a decent idea of where you are and have some information to share with the company, it’s time to call.

If your roadside assistance provider is through your insurance company, you’ll likely find their phone number on your insurance card. If you’ve found your own provider, you’ll need to locate the quick reference card or email they shared with you previously. (If you’re reading this from the comfort of a non-emergency, take this as your cue to go ahead and find that number and save it to your phone’s contacts!)

Take a deep breath, jog in place for a minute, do whatever works best for you to work out anxious nerves. We know this is a stressful situation but taking your stress out on those trying to help will only make the situation more frustrating for everyone. So, if you find yourself still riding that adrenaline rush from the incident, take a moment to try bringing that down a bit before you call.

Each company will have a slightly different process, but most follow the same basic procedures:

  • Once they confirm you’re in a safe area, they’ll start asking questions to assess your needs.
  • Depending on the specifics of your situation, including factors such as day of the week, time of day, and location, they’ll offer at least one solution to your need. That may be dispatching a tow company to get you to a shop that can help, or it may be sending a certified RV mobile technician to make a (hopefully) quick repair to get you on the road to someone more equipped to make a full assessment and repair.
  • Your representative should go through anticipated costs with you. Most roadside assistance companies cover the cost of getting help to you, but may or may not help cover the cost of getting you back on the road. For example, they may pay for the tow truck to come get you and take you to a repair shop within 10 miles, but any miles beyond that are out of your pocket. (If you have Escapees Roadside Assistance, the tow miles are unlimited!) Or, they may send someone out to replace your flat tire for free, but you will owe that local service provider for the new tire or materials used to repair your damaged on. If the person you speak with doesn’t bring this up, take the initiative to ask.
  • Now it’s time to connect you with that service provider. And this is where most negative reviews begin.

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What to Expect While You Wait for Help

If you did your research prior to signing up for roadside assistance, you are likely aware that the company you contracted with doesn’t actually complete the service on your vehicle or RV. Instead, they put a call out to their network of service providers in your area to find one who can help. Additionally, you may be speaking with a call center representative who helps with multiple companies’ customers.

While this may seem frustrating, both of these possibilities are a common way roadside assistance companies do business. Remember our advice from earlier to work out some of that adrenaline rush before calling? That comes in handy here. If you’re able to calmly communicate your needs, the person on the other end will be better able to help resolve those needs.

So, back to the service provider. Depending on the availability of providers at the time of your need, you may be put in touch with someone immediately, or the roadside assistance company’s representative may need to hang up and call around on your behalf before reaching back out to you. As mentioned before, factors such as proximity to urban areas, time of day, day of week, whether or not it’s a holiday, etc, can all affect how quickly they can find someone to help you. If the roadside representative needs to hang up before giving you that information, ask them how long you should wait before calling them back. Though they should call you, we know how chaotic call centers can be. Knowing an estimate of how long you’ll be waiting can eliminate some of the stress on you and give you an action you can take versus feeling like you’re waiting indefinitely for an answer.

Once you know who is showing up to assist, make sure you get a reliable contact number for them. This is useful for a number of reasons and can help expedite your service in case questions or concerns arise. Once someone has been assigned, and you have contact information, it’s time to get comfy and wait out their arrival.

When your local service provider arrives, it’s time to celebrate (hopefully)! If you and your roadside assistance representative have done your work, this local provider will have all the tools and supplies needed to either get you to a repair shop, or get you back on the road. When working with Escapees Roadside Assistance, you’ll be dispatched a certified RV technician to work on your rig. Taking the time to ensure your roadside assistance representative understands your needs will help ensure they dispatch a technician appropriate for your situation.

Do you have roadside assistance coverage for both your RV and vehicle?

If at any time they try to charge you something that doesn’t seem correct, or they refuse to perform a service previously agreed upon, don’t hesitate to contact your roadside assistance company again to clarify. Sometimes it’s miscommunication, sometimes it’s something shadier, but either way, it’s better to know what you’re working with than to try rectifying the situation after the fact. As Ed Thor, Manager of RV Service for Saferide, often says when explaining roadside assistance, “No matter how hard we try we cannot be where YOU breakdown.  If something about the process does not feel right, sound right, or look right to YOU, please call us back to inquire.”

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Now It’s Time to Follow-Up

Every roadside assistance company relies on consumer feedback to maintain a high standard for their contracted service providers. Once your need has been resolved and you’re back on the road, it’s time to follow-up on the service you received.

It’s human nature to keep the good things to ourselves while venting about the not-so-good things, and the same is true when it comes to customer reviews. If you had a bad experience, definitely notify your roadside assistance provider so they can address it with the local service provider. The only way they know about these unsatisfactory experiences is if the affected customers tell them. In some cases, too, you may be entitled so some sort of compensation if the service promised isn’t the service delivered.

Don’t forget, though, if you had a great experience, they want to know about that, too! Customer feedback is how they know which local providers they want to continue working with, and which ones they may not want to renew.

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5 Responses

  1. If you get the Escapees roadside assistance be sure to put it in both your names. If you don’t they will only pay for meals for one of you while repairs are being done or for airfares.

    1. Thank you for this insight! We reached out to Saferide to learn more about this situation, and they confirmed they are updating their information to reflect this and avoid future confusion.

  2. Would you believe Saga of Roadside Assistance – First Time I’ve used this service and not impressed. Easy Peasy flat tire change on Travel Trailer, had spare, had tools but needed assistance to raise trailer tire off ground More than my equipment could accomplish. Now for the sad sack story – flat tire discovered on stopover at Murray Family Farms fruit stand on Hwy 58 Bakersfield/Barstow Fwy 17 miles East of Bakersfield CA. Called for roadside assistance at 1:00 PM during nice dry sunny day while in fruit stand parking lot. Tow service office personnel contacted me twice via phone during interim which is good to keep me updated – but during second call learned they were coming from Lancaster CA – which makes NO Sense as Lancaster CA is 70 miles away vs Bakersfield CA right down the road at 17 miles away. Driver called earlier saying he got dispached at 3:08 PM from Lancaster CA and is still enroute. It’s NOW 4:39 PM arrival with daylight coming to an end shortly as Sun will be setting in few minutes.

    Nothing else to do but wait and write this diatribe….Good thing I’m retired and full time RVer with Patience of Job.

    Yep 70 miles from Lancaster CA vs 17 miles from Bakersfield CA (a much bigger urban area). Wonder if Roadside Assistance Dispatch knows how to read a MAP and wonder Why they assigned this call to a towing outfit 70 dispatch – wonder what gives with Roadside Assistance Dispatch picking 70 miles away service provider.?

    Chris from A-1 Towing Excellent job – finished 5:10 PM.

    1. Thank you for your feedback! I’ll pass it along to our contacts at SafeRide as well.

      On a personal note, I’ve been in a similar situation before. Because of how roadside assistance companies work (contracts with local providers), it may have been that either they didn’t have an agreement with anyone in the closer town, or of the contacts they had, no one would be available for hours. Even though Lancaster was further, it may be that they had the closest available driver to come assist you in a relatively reasonable amount of time. Because they pay for that driver, whether by mile or time, it’s in the best financial interest of the roadside company to find someone close to you who also has the tools or truck to do what is needed.

  3. Thanks for the post! I really appreciate this kind of information. I am very impressed with the author of this blog and I hope you will share more useful articles on roadside assistance in the future like this masterpiece.

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