by Jono Morris
When you break down, the last thing you need to be worrying about is what kind of assistance you will be receiving. Unfortunately, the reality is you may have issues with your provider, the parent company or even the towing truck.
A little background: there are dozens of offerings available for roadside assistance. Of the dozens of offerings, there are only a handful of actual plan administrators who supply their services to clubs, organizations or companies “rebranded” to appear as though they are coming from the club, organization or company. For example, the warranty period motorcycle roadside assistance plan provided by BMW is branded as “BMW Motorrad USA Roadside Assistance” but is administered by Signature Motor Club. These major administrators have contracts with garages, repair shops or towing companies all around the country.
These contracts are rarely the same from one area to another – meaning a company that would like all services to be consistent – AAA for example – is dependent on the local AAA club (or chapter) in addition to a contract signed with the towing service. Almost all of these providers target their service towards automobiles since that is by far the largest market.
If the plan you are considering isn’t specifically a motorcycle plan, it requires a careful eye to determine if a particular program will cover motorcycles. So what about the truck that shows up for the tow? Most tow trucks (or “hooks” as they’re known) are owned independently by garages in the area where you broke down. Meaning you could call any of the majors: Allstate, Sam’s, AAA, Signature Motor Club, Agero – all may be calling “Joe’s Garage” who is down the street from you. Being expert about towing a motorcycle then comes down to who from “Joe’s garage” gets sent for your tow; and whether they will bring an appropriate truck (hopefully a flatbed) and proper tie-downs.
Many motorcycle groups have plans associated with their membership, for example AMA, BMWMOA, GWRRA, HOG, etc. While these programs are also making use of the system described above, there is a possibility there will be fewer challenges with motorcycle-specific issues.
In summary, select a program that aligns with your needs and budget; validate that the program covers motorcycles by reading the contract or agreement with the service; be prepared that your tow may in the end require multiple conversations with the provider to ensure you bike will be towed properly by someone with the skill to ensure no damage occurs to your bike.