Broken down car towed but couple left stranded during Level 3

Rob and Sue Green with the vehicle that was entitled to assistance, although the occupants were not. Photo: Greymouth Star
Rob and Sue Green with the vehicle that was entitled to assistance, although the occupants were not. Photo: Greymouth Star
An older West Coast couple was left high and dry by level 3 restrictions that saw them refused a ride with a tow operator and left standing on the roadside when their vehicle broke down.

Rob and Sue Green, of Blackball, encountered vehicle issues near Stafford Loop Road on State Highway 6 at Arahura and so called their provider State Insurance for assistance.

"We've had Roadside Rescue since it began so I thought I would use it," Mrs Green said.

"They offered to send a technician for a battery start or some fuel, but when we said it was air in the fuel line there was nothing to be done so we sought advice from a mechanic. We still couldn't start it so we called back and said we would need a tow.

"The woman we spoke to said they couldn't take anyone and we would need someone to pick us up, and that we would have to organise that ourselves."

As their vehicle was towed away, they were left on the roadside. Distressed, they eventually got hold of their neighbor who drove from Blackball to Arahura to pick them up.

"What are we supposed to do, stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere? This has taken away a great deal of our trust and feeling of security in having insurance," Mrs Green said.

The other member of their home 'bubble' was unable to assist, having been recently discharged from hospital and still too ill to drive.

"We look after our cars, we change the oil, we do all the checks, and at the back of our minds it doesn't matter because we thought 'we have this help'. It was a peace of mind thing, that it turns out, wasn't."

IAG, the parent company of State, has since been in contact and apologised.

A spokesman for the insurer said: "Covid-19 restrictions have created many challenges for businesses, particularly around keeping people safely distanced from one another while essential work is taking place.

"No one should be left on the side of the road without a transport plan after their car is towed, and we are putting measures in place to ensure this doesn't happen again. We have had several conversations with Mrs Green and we have apologised to her in regards to this matter."

- by Meg Fulford

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