With South African government schools closing today and private schools breaking up on the 1st of July, many families may be planning a holiday during this mid-year break.
However, while they are busy planning their route and arranging accommodation many people forget to plan for unexpected events, such as an accident, a breakdown or flat tyre. All motorists must ensure they have a trusted roadside assistance service in place should an emergency occur while they are on the roads, especially when travelling with children.
This is according to Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa (EASA), who states that travelling with children can already be quite a stressful event, with additional preparation required. “Breaking down adds another level of tension for the family if there is no back up plan in place and the family has to find help at the last minute. This type of situation is even more uncomfortable when travelling in a remote location.”
She says there are various types of assistance services available should anything go wrong while travelling to or from a holiday destination. “It is advisable for motorists to analyse the type of services offered to them through service providers, such as their bank, insurance provider or medical aid, to understand exactly what the service will entail and what the limitations are in order to ensure the most appropriate solution is chosen.”
She warns that those who do not have roadside assistance are placing themselves at risk of high expenses related to breaking down. “If a desperate motorist has to resort to negotiating a fee for towing on the spot they are often subject to pay a higher premium. Some towing contractors also charge additional fees for storage and admin. In addition, there are various types of towing cover which may also fluctuate according to the distance in kilometres of the towing. For example, some companies offer assistance with towing to a dealership while others will only tow to the nearest place of safety – which in most cases is the service provider’s yard.”
It is very important that motorists know exactly what products are linked to their assistance offering, says Colman. “Some roadside assistance packages include vehicle hire, accommodation, jump starts, locksmiths and tyre changes, while others may exclude these types of services or require the member to pay an additional cost for these services.”
While on route to an unfamiliar destination, it is also very beneficial for motorists to have Directions Assist on call, says Colman.
“This is an offering from Europ Assistance SA that provides guidance should a motorist become lost or may have forgotten to print out a map and need confirmation of directions. While people are increasingly relying on GPS location services when they need directions, this service brings back the human element as the motorists will speak to a person via telephone. This can prove to be very reassuring when the motorist and passengers are in a state of panic due to being lost.
“Another useful assistance service during the holiday period when people typically want to relax and unwind is a ‘Take me Home’ driver assistance. This is a designated driver service, offered by Europ Assistance SA, that will ensure members arrive home safely after a night out while having their vehicle driven home for them. Users can therefore plan a day or night out with friends and family and not have to worry about drinking, a particularly useful service as we strive to reduce the number of drinking and driving incidents on South African roads”, Colman adds.
“Emergencies are often unforeseen and when a motorist is stranded next to the road in the dark hours of the night, having peace of mind that help will be on its way after contacting their assisted service provider can save the motorist much stress, anxiety and trauma,” she concludes.