New Research Shows Why Roadside Should be Top of Mind for Your Customers

 

At Agero, roadside isn’t just our business; it’s our passion. With over 240 million drivers traveling across America’s roadways in 2023 alone (and with the number of drivers continuing to grow each year), we understand the importance of not only providing timely assistance to drivers in need, but learning more about the evolving roadside landscape to better service our clients and their customers. 

Every year, Agero conducts a study to do just that. In our 2023 benchmark research, we surveyed over 2,500 drivers to uncover more about the roadside topography–including frequency of events, types of events, and event resolution. The data points to the fact that roadside events are occurring more often than one might think–especially when it comes to electric vehicles–and that drivers’ misconceptions about roadside coverage pose a barrier to usage and adoption.

For auto insurance carriers, we know that customer experience is critical to brand loyalty: the more positive touchpoints you have with your customers, the more likely you can recapture them during renewal. Utilization of roadside coverage during an event can be one of the most powerful touchpoints that reinforces brand affinity.

Here’s how you can utilize the findings of this study to not only educate customers about the importance of roadside coverage, but also increase touchpoints throughout the customer journey to enhance overall brand engagement and satisfaction.

 

Just over 1 in 2 drivers has a roadside event each year

 

It’s not a matter of “if” your customers will need roadside assistance, but “when”. Fifty-five percent of drivers surveyed reported that they had experienced at least one roadside event in the last 12 months. Flat tires and jumpstarts combined accounted for half of those roadside events. The next most frequent issues were key fobs and vehicle lockouts, followed by running out of fuel. 

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This means that approximately half of your customers will require some sort of roadside assistance every year. To ensure that customers have a seamless experience when that day comes, it’s imperative to remind customers about the importance of roadside coverage frequently–whether it’s already included or can be added to their policies. 

 

VEHICLE DRIVETRAIN AND FREQUENCY OF USE ARE THE BEST PREDICTORS OF ROADSIDE

 

A vehicle’s drivetrain and frequency of use are the best predictors of whether its driver will require roadside assistance–specifically once frequency reaches 250 miles or more per week. 

Electric vehicle (EV) owners are more likely to experience a roadside event than their internal combustible engine (ICE) cohort. Since EVs are heavier in weight and also have thinner tire treads to increase driving range, EV tires tend to wear out more quickly. Couple this with the fact that most EVs do not come with spare tires to help reduce overall vehicle weight, and the result is a 25% increase in the need for tows compared to ICEs. 

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Educating customers about the likelihood of their vehicle experiencing a roadside event can help align their driving expectations with reality. Many drivers may not be aware that a newer vehicle that’s driven frequently can actually be more susceptible to a roadside event than an older vehicle that’s driven minimally. Helping customers understand the nuances of vehicle age, drivetrain, and use can influence proactive rather than reactive behavior when it comes to ensuring roadside coverage is on their policy.

 

ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE ISN’T JUST FOR THE “SIDE OF THE ROAD”

 

Many drivers associate roadside assistance with a car pulled over on a road or the shoulder of a highway. However, this is true for only 32% of all events. Surprisingly, more than half of all events actually occur at peoples’ homes (42%) or in public parking lots (26%). 

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Due to its naming convention, drivers may believe that roadside assistance can only be utilized if their vehicle experiences a disablement while they are driving. As a result, recalling coverage during an event that isn’t on the road or highway doesn’t always come top of mind. Reminding customers about the depth and breadth of their roadside coverage early and often can help increase coverage recall during breakdowns at home or in parking lots.

 

MANY PEOPLE DIY WHEN IT COMES TO ROADSIDE - EVEN IF THEY ALREADY HAVE COVERAGE

 

When faced with a roadside event, only one in two drivers seek some sort of professional help. Those who did not either called a friend or family member for assistance, or performed the roadside repair themselves (DIY). And despite 85% of drivers reporting that they have roadside assistance coverage, only 8% of those that sought professional help utilized their insurance coverage during their roadside event.

The large consensus for choosing to DIY revolved around cost efficiency and perception of time. Fifty percent of drivers believed that resolving their issue through DIY would be cheaper and/or result in a faster or better fix–alluding to the fact that drivers value their time and budgets above all.

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Common misconceptions that many drivers have about roadside assistance is that they will have out-of-pocket costs and filing a claim and waiting for professional help to arrive can take longer than desired; neither of which are true in the vast majority of cases. Drivers with roadside assistance coverage aren’t required to pay any additional costs if the event is within coverage limits. Seeking professional help is actually the fastest, and most convenient way to get back on the road quickly and safely.

What is more concerning is that many drivers are unaware of the dangers that exist when they choose to DIY. Serious injuries, or worse, have occurred as a direct result of a DIY repair attempt gone wrong–especially in high-traffic areas or inclement weather. It’s important to remind customers that no matter what level of car repair expertise they have, it’s best to leave it to the pros. Service providers are trained to handle the dangers of roadside fixes and adhere to strict safety standards and regulations. 

In the end, customers should always remember that putting their own (and other drivers’) safety on the line isn’t worth the risk. Especially when using coverage is the most time and cost efficient option.

 

MOST PEOPLE FORGET ABOUT OR DON’T KNOW WHERE TO FIND THEIR ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS WHEN THEY NEED IT

 

Another common reason why drivers aren’t utilizing their roadside coverage during an event can be attributed to misinformation. Many drivers either forgot they were covered or don’t understand the breadth of their roadside coverage. And for those who did know, many were unsure of…

  • What is covered by their roadside program
  • If there would be any out-of-pocket costs
  • If they would they be penalized for using their coverage
  • How or where to submit a request for assistance

As a result, many drivers aren’t utilizing services they’re already paying for to their advantage, and end up taking on unnecessary costs – be it time, money, or energy. 

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As mentioned earlier, approximately 8% of drivers that seek professional help utilized their insurance coverage during their roadside event. Your customers may not be utilizing coverage provided in their policy simply because they are misinformed. It's important that drivers know what coverage they have, where to find it, and how to request assistance. Carriers can help by educating customers more thoroughly about what is included in their roadside coverage; what, if any, implications there is for usage; and the best way to submit a request for assistance. This will ensure customers recall their coverage and know how to quickly request it when they experience a roadside issue. 

 

HOW TO MAKE ROADSIDE TOP OF MIND FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS

 

By incorporating roadside messaging and content frequently in customer-facing communication channels, carriers can help drivers better understand the importance of roadside coverage and utilization while increasing positive touchpoints. Examples of this include showcasing roadside information on your website, promoting your mobile app for quick intake, and providing convenient reminders by adding coverage information to policyholder ID cards and proof of insurance. Educating insurance agents about the value of roadside can also play a pivotal role in consumer awareness and adoption by ensuring they share the information frequently in their interactions with customers as well.

Sharing resourceful content that debunks common roadside myths and educates drivers on the best ways to access assistance reinforces roadside as the fastest, easiest, and safest path to getting back on the road and on with their day. When a customer experiences their next roadside event and uses their coverage, your company earns a new opportunity to delight them and improve your overall brand satisfaction. 

View the full infographic, "Roadside Insights: Exploring Trends and Attitudes" here.

 
 

Meet the Author: Christine Nguyen - Marketing Communications Specialist

Christine is a Marketing Communications Specialist for the automotive and insurance line of business. She focuses on developing content that spreads brand awareness to consumers and strengthens client relationships regarding the value of roadside. Christine has a Master’s Degree in English from California State University, Fullerton and has over 10 years’ experience in content marketing. She is based in California and enjoys camping, traveling, and raising two tiny humans with her husband.
 
 

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