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Classic Protection

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by Rick Jensen  More from Author

Allstate Motor Club's High-Tech Roadside Service.

Photos courtesy of Allstate Motor Club.


There are many milestones on the path to becoming a seasoned classic car enthusiast. The biggest, of course, is the day you drive (or tow!) your sweet new wheels home. Doing the first oil change is a messy but important rite of passage; spending all weekend on a multi-step waxing system is an amazing way to make your ride look better. And yes, the first speeding ticket counts, too!

But while we travel this fun and rewarding road, there is another important milestone that classic auto owners invariably reach: the need for a roadside service program. Being just a phone call away from help when you need it is important with your commuter, but it is critical if you are driving a classic vehicle. All automobiles have problems, but unfortunately, classics have more of them. Think about it: the newest classics are approaching 30 years old. That’s a little too long to expect its thousands of parts to continue working perfectly, and it only takes one frayed battery cable or one blown tire to take your rod from the fast lane to the shoulder. And as we all know, the shoulder is not the greatest place for your high-dollar hot rod to spend a few hours on! When your wheels roll to a stop, you want a roadside service program that not only responds to your call quickly, but also offers the kind of personalized and careful attention that your classic vehicle requires.

Recently, AutoTrader Classics was given a virtual tour of Allstate Motor Club, which offers a series of roadside service membership plans. While each plan packs a huge amount of benefits into a very small price, we learned that it is a potent mix of advanced technology, thorough training, and high standards that really sets this service apart from the rest.

We spent some time with Allstate’s Rex Dunn, who explained how their cutting-edge technology benefits its customers. “Allstate built a proprietary system that includes everything from the systems we use to dispatch the calls, to the intelligence we use to manage our towing network,” Rex starts. “When customers sign up, their membership is immediately added to the system. All service calls go through the home office in South Barrington, Illinois, then are routed through the country depending on location: we have call centers in St. Petersburg, Florida, Dallas and Houston, Texas, Lewiston, Maine, one in Canada–even two in India. When they call in, they are routed to a person who first makes sure they are in a safe location, and then makes sure service is on the way to where they are, most often within eight minutes.”

And for customers who prefer to summon a service representative without calling in, Allstate has that covered, too: it has a trick mobile app for owners of iPhone and BlackBerry Curve and Bold smartphones. This app works directly with the call center, and utilizes a Diagnostic Menu feature where the client can select what part of the vehicle is having problems. The phone’s GPS coordinates and the driver’s menu selections are relayed to the call center, and service info is sent back to the phone’s Service Details screen which lists the problem, the responder, and their ETA on site. With this mobile app, the tow truck driver arrives without you ever having to talk to a person!

That technology is impressive, but according to Dunn, it is Allstate’s highly trained call center reps, and its network of tow providers, that add a professional human element to these plans. “All of our phone reps go through thorough training: half on Allstate’s system, and half on how to handle the situations they’ll be dealing with,” Rex says. “Our site managers are always walking around and supporting the reps during the calls, and all of the calls and the computer screen shots are recorded, for continuing training purposes.” And the service providers get trained, too: “We try to take great care of our service providers, because solid, long-term relationships are the key to a successful tow network,” Dunn explains. “These folks are taught how to approach a vehicle, and how to make sure the driver is kept in a safe place during the call–the number one job is to make sure they are safe, and number two is moving the vehicle. We train them how to hook up and strap down a vehicle, how to get it into neutral, unlock it, jump-start it, and change its tires.”

And adding to this training, Allstate utilizes monitoring and scoring technology that tracks each tow provider’s metrics relating to the call and their response. “Every company has their own score on how they perform, and it’s all real-time. We can make adjustments to make sure we have the right guys there every time. We even phone them during the service call to make sure that everything is happening how it should; if there is a problem, Allstate takes care of it immediately.”

All of this adds up to an effective service call by contracted, uniformed service providers, who strive to arrive in 60 minutes or less. While over half of Allstate’s calls are for tows, other requested services are lock-outs, jump-starts, gas deliveries, and tire changes. But regardless of the call, thanks to specific classic vehicle training you don’t have to worry about your prized possession being damaged by a sloppy service provider. “We treat a classic car the same as we treat a Ferrari,” Dunn states. “We know how to handle cars without damaging them. If the owner has special requests–like a flatbed-only truck or nylon tie-down straps for a vehicle with a fragile frame–we’re happy to oblige.”   

When asked about some of the more interesting calls that his centers have gotten, Rex offered this bit, which makes that mobile app all the more important: “You’d be amazed by how many people don’t know where they are, and we have to find them. Other interesting calls had people running into their own garages, and rolling down a hill and hitting a house. You wouldn’t believe how many times we’ve unlocked a car that is running! Then there was ‘I’m at a gas station, I ran out of gas…can you bring me some?’

So clearly, we’ve all done some funny things with our vehicles. And surely you all have had to enlist in the help of a roadside services provider, just as we have. But what raised our eyebrows were the included services in one of Allstate’s most popular plans, the Roadside Advantage Plan: 24-hour, toll-free emergency road service, no-extra-cost benefits like lock-out service, fuel delivery, battery boost, and flat tire changes, towing to any location up to the $100 plan allowance, spouse and teen coverage, a $500 arrest bond certificate for you leadfoots, $750 in legal defense benefits, and a one-year money-back guarantee. Membership even includes money-saving discounts of up to 50 percent on lodging, dining, shopping, car rentals, and entertainment.

And all of that comes with a low introductory rate–only $52 a year! With a price like that, it’s hard not to try it. So if you think that this sounds like the kind of protection your vehicle needs to keep rolling, you can reach Allstate Motor Club at 800-991-8180, or at www.allstatemotorclub.com/classics.

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