Your car suddenly starts to sputter and then comes to a halt. It’s a scary and stressful scenario for drivers.
When your car breaks down on the highway, it can be a potentially dangerous situation. In most cases your car insurance does not cover a breakdown on the highway. You’ll need to add optional coverage for this to your car insurance policy.
What to do when your car breaks down on the highway
Stay calm and pull over safely
The first and most crucial step when your car breaks down on the highway is to remain calm. Panic won't help the situation, but clear thinking will. Safely manoeuvre your vehicle to the right shoulder or emergency lane if possible.
If you can't make it to the right shoulder, turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers that you're having problems.
Assess the situation
Once you've pulled over, assess the situation. Try to identify the problem if you can do so safely. If it's a simple issue like a flat tire, you might be able to change it yourself. However, if it's a more complex problem, such as engine trouble, it's best to call for professional help.
Call for assistance
Now, it's time to call for assistance. If you have roadside assistance coverage, contact your provider. They can dispatch a tow truck or a roadside technician to help you. If you don't have this coverage, you can still call a towing service or a nearby mechanic. Be sure to inform them of your location, the issue you're facing, and any specific details about your vehicle.
Stay inside your car
While waiting for help to arrive, it's essential to stay inside your car, especially if you're on a busy highway. Your car provides a layer of protection from passing traffic. Keep your seatbelt fastened and wait patiently for help to arrive.
When the tow truck or roadside assistance arrives, communicate clearly with the service provider. Explain the problem, any previous attempts you've made to address it, and provide all necessary information about your vehicle. This will help them diagnose and resolve the issue more efficiently.
Does my car insurance cover breakdowns?
Understanding comprehensive coverage
One common misconception is that your standard car insurance policy covers breakdowns. In most cases, it does not. If you have comprehensive coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, it may provide some assistance. Comprehensive coverage typically protects against non-collision incidents, such as theft, vandalism, and damage from natural disasters.
Roadside assistance coverage
To ensure you have coverage for breakdowns, you'll need to add roadside assistance to your car insurance policy. Roadside assistance is an optional add-on that can be invaluable in situations like car breakdowns on the highway.
It typically includes services like towing, jump-starting a dead battery, changing a flat tire, and delivering fuel if you run out. While not all insurance companies offer roadside assistance, many do, and it's relatively affordable to add to your policy.
Rental car coverage
In some cases, your auto insurance policy may include rental car coverage as part of your comprehensive coverage. This can be helpful if your car needs extensive repairs, and you require a temporary replacement vehicle while yours is in the shop. Check your policy details to see if rental car coverage is included.
Extended warranty or mechanical breakdown insurance
Another option to consider is an extended warranty or mechanical breakdown insurance. These are separate from your standard auto insurance policy and are designed to cover repair costs for specific mechanical or electrical failures in your vehicle. They can provide peace of mind if you're concerned about costly repairs down the road.
Review your policy
To know exactly what your insurance covers, it's important to review your policy carefully. Insurance policies can vary significantly from one provider to another and even from one policy to another. If you're unsure about your coverage, ask your Western Financial Group car insurance expert for clarification.
How to stay safe if you are stranded roadside
1. Stay Safe Inside Your Vehicle: One of the most critical safety tips when your car breaks down on the highway is to stay inside your vehicle. The highway can be a dangerous place, with cars traveling at high speeds. Staying inside your car provides a protective barrier. Keep your seatbelt fastened and stay calm.
2. Turn on Hazard Lights: Activate your hazard lights as soon as you pull over. This will alert other drivers to your situation and increase your visibility, reducing the risk of a collision.
3. Exit on the Passenger Side: If possible, exit your vehicle on the passenger side. This is the side farthest from moving traffic, reducing the chances of being hit by a passing vehicle.
4. Set up warning devices: If you have warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, use them to create a safety zone around your vehicle. Place them a safe distance behind your car to give approaching drivers ample warning.
5. Stay away from the road: Once you've exited your vehicle, stay well away from the roadway. Stand behind the guardrail or barrier, if available. Avoid standing directly in front of or behind your vehicle.
6. Call for help: Use your mobile phone to call for assistance if you haven't already. If you don't have a phone, consider asking a passerby for help.
7. Be cautious of strangers: While it's important to get help, use caution when dealing with strangers who help. It's generally best to wait for a professional service provider or police to arrive.