Should I buy Road Side Assistance?

Traditionally the only provided of roadside assistance was the NRMA. Now there are many competing service providers for this need. This article does not compare or advise one one the other, rather we will look at if this is a wise investment or not.

We should clarify the identity of NRMA. In 2015 NRMA (National Roads and Motoring Association) are actually two separate organisations operating under the same name. They are linked in some ways but for the best part are completely different.
NRMA Insurance is the insurance company. Dealing with insurance for homes, motor vehicles and businesses alike. There is also NRMA roadside assistance. A common misbelief amongst those who are insured with NRMA is that they are covered for roadside assistance as part of their motor vehicle insurance. This is not the case and if this applies to you I’d advise checking if you are covered for both.

So today we are actually talking about the roadside assistance and the value for money one could gain by having road side assistance. Frequently clients inform us that they have ditched the annual fee and forfeited the roadside assistance service. The rational behind this decision differs from person to person. Some common arguments are “I bought a brand new car therefore I won’t need it” or “they always send some useless bloke out who is no good” or many other arguments to justify the cost cut.

Granted it can be a bit of pot luck as to the quality of the mechanic you get sent when and if you need this service but thats the same with any large organisation. Tarnishing the entire corporation based of the attitude and actions of one person is probably not fair.

If you have not already picked up my vibe, I am a fan of this service and we do utilise it on some our vehicles. We are mechanics and we still perceive value in this service. Here is why, assuming that whatever the issue is, its unable to be repaired on the side of the road by myself or any other mechanic. Any fault that will require me to make that call is more than likely to be something that will require the vehicle to be in a workshop, many kilometres from where I have rather inconveniently broken down. A local tow of anything under about twenty kilometres will set you back $100 for your trouble, further than twenty kilometres and the cost of the tow increases depending on the road side assistance package you have this tow is included as part of your membership and I don’t have to pay for it. In just one tow I have broken even on the investment.

Add to our equation that NRMA claim that 9 times out of 10 the tow is not required. (This information is based off a nine month window in 2010, the information can be found on the NRMA website) they claim 90% of the time they are able to get you going without a tow truck. The value here is amazing. Granted a huge amount of these are likely to be keys locked in cars, flat tyres and flat batteries but no matter how trivial the fault, if the car is needed and you can’t use it at the time, you would give more than $100 to have the problem solved.
I believe its a wise investment, even if it’s just for peace of mind.


Don’t leave it until you’re in trouble and then join. The wise people at the helm of these businesses have seen through this many years ago and know that loyalty is a hard thing to come by. Simply joining any Roadside Assistance the day you need them will cost you big. They call it “join and go” and can cost you up to $300.
The other trick is joining and calling back the same day you joined, needing a tow. They have also seen the light on this one and have created a system to stop this. After joining, there is a time frame in which you can not utilise the service. In most cases this waiting period is 24 hours.

MotorServe: In recent years NRMA established a franchise of workshops where you can have your vehicle serviced and repaired. Be mindful of one tactic used relating to this. The patrol man who attends your broken down vehicle is payed bonus incentives if he convinces you to take a vehicle that needs workshop repairs to a MotorServe workshop.
In some cases, whilst this scenario plays out, ethics become grey for some people. It does depend on the person involved but many clients have been led to believe that they do not have a choice in this matter and must take the car to NRMAs workshops. If you need towing by any road side assistance provider as part of your roadside assistance package, you can take it to any workshop you wish.…

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