During a recent trip to San Antonio, Alma and I got a flat tire on our Prius. The tire was flat when we left the hotel. However, with all that goes through one's mind when leaving a hotel, such as not forgetting anything, figuring out which direction to go, and such, I did not notice the odd sounds of the flat tire until I was a good half mile away. By then the tire was ruined. There is no patching a tire that has been driven too far.
This was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the American Express Premium Roadside Assistance. We both carry the American Express Platinum card. It was a simple matter of calling the toll-free number on the card and requesting to be transferred to Roadside Assistance. We verified our accounts and the particulars of our situation.
Normally, I would attempt, and did attempt, to change my own tire. However, this is the first time I have had a flat on the Prius since buying it. I did not realize that I bought the car without a spare tire. All I found were the tire changing tools. This is why we had to call Roadside Assistance, to get a tow to a tire shop less than 10 miles away.
According to the customer service representative at American Express Premium Roadside Assistance, we get four incidents per year. The tow will only take you up to 10 miles at no charge. After that, you get charged the additional miles. Fortunately, the nearest tire shop was less than 10 miles away.
Our experience was not painful in the least. About the only hardship was having to wait for the tow truck, which originally would be a 55 minute wait. The wait became more than 90 minutes because the driver took longer with the previous customer and there was some miscommunication regarding our location. I might be irate about it, except that it was on a Sunday afternoon. Sundays are typically not replete with options. We were also not in a great hurry to get on the road home. The Roadside Assistance service was very good to call us to find out if the tow truck had found us after the first 55 minutes. They also made other follow-up calls to check up on us after the delays.
The Premium Roadside Assistance includes a tow up to 10 miles at no cost, a tire change, or battery jump. You do not have to be traveling to use the service, you can be home in your driveway. The service also offers lockout service and delivery of up to two gallons of fuel.
The only other Roadside Assistance that I would consider, in addition to AMEX, would be AAA, which includes travel discounts and longer tows. If you are ever traveling in the western states where there are long distances between cities, the AAA subscription could be a good complement to the AMEX Premium Roadside Assistance because they can get you a tow up to 100 miles at no cost other than the subscription.
This was our first experience getting roadside assistance while traveling. Alma once got roadside assistance from GEICO after she blew a tire avoiding an accident. The customer service rep sent somebody to help change the tire after she called to report the incident. There is some degree of peace of mind that comes with knowing that you can travel and have incidents that do not have to ruin your entire trip. A costly car repair or tow can put a dent in your travel budget. Having roadside service is an insurance of sorts to help mitigate the financial risk that comes with travel.
Everything worked smoothly when we called for assistance. At no time did we feel anxious or worried about our situation. All we had to do was wait and let everybody do their part to get us back on our way home. When you have this sort of peace of mind in place, your travel experience is one where you simply have to show up rather than also having to plan for every contingency. With Roadside Assistance and travel insurance, you have backup wherever you go in case things go wrong, as they do from time to time.