The purchase of breakdown cover for your vehicle is a personal thing and should
represent your lifestyle needs and budget. For those shopping for the right service, It can be confusing,.
“What breakdown service should I buy and what brand is right for me?”
Here we attempt to simplify the clutter, to help you make a more informed decision, before acquiring some breakdown cover quotes.
The Basics Of Breakdown Cover
“What breakdown Cover Service Providers are there?”
There are several brand names out there, but the biggest three are –
- The AA (Once Known As The Automotive Association)
- The RAC (Once known as the Royal Auto-mobile Club)
- Green Flag (Used to be known as National Breakdown Recovery Club)
All the big three have been around for decades and in fact the The AA and The RAC can be tracked back over 100 years, both as motoring clubs, helping their members right through the golden age of motoring.
“They are all regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority”
“You can contact all big breakdown insurance providers via your mobile phone or their app, should your car need attention”
As the biggest service breakdown cover provider in the UK they have the largest size of employed motor engineers, to attend a stricken vehicle at the roadside. This means it is more likely a trained AA mechanic will attend a vehicle rather than a local garage.
It claims 8 out of 10 cars are fixed at the roadside, you can identify them by the bright yellow vans and trucks.
The second largest breakdown service provider also has a huge workforce, but in rural areas and in busier times, a call-out may be attended by an authorised local garage. The RAC claim they fix 4 out of 5 vehicles on the spot, you can identify them by there bright orange vans.
This organisation started as a garage network (National Breakdown Recovery Club) but has grown into a major competitor to the AA and RAC.
It’s policy of having fewer mechanics, can help control costs which in some instances may keep car breakdown cover prices lower than the competition. (of course with various offers, this may change from time to time).
Some Further Points
- “All service providers will deliver 24/7 call out cover”
- “Breakdown Cover should be seen as a car insurance policy and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)”
- “Check out out if there any age restrictions to your vehicle”
Now lets look at a key decisions that are needed to choose the right level of breakdown cover .
Personal Cover For Me Or My Car?
Yes there is a difference, the first option gives the option of having personal breakdown cover in what ever private car the policy holder is either driving or a passenger in.
- “Do you regularly drive other private cars?”
- “Are you a passenger in other owners’ vehicles?”
If the above is true, then Personal Cover could be the right policy to buy.
If the policy holder tends only to travel in their own vehicle (or other vehicles are
covered with another breakdown cover policy), then opting to cover for the car only may be the best option to purchase.
In all policies A mechanic will visit the stricken vehicle and get it back on the road.
“Breakdown cover for the car only, is often a cheaper solution”
Tip: Before deciding on the service provider or policy to buy, make a decision of whether to have personal cover or car. It will make the process easier to compare prices and complete the application.
Roadside Assistance – The Basic Entry Policy
All service providers have a roadside assistance type agreement their compulsory entry level policy.
Ironically most car breakdowns are simple fixes such as
- Flat Batteries
- Deflated Tyres
- Running Out Of Fuel
- Lost Car Keys
Common Call Outs Not Quick Fixes
- Loss Of The Use Of Clutch
- Wrong Fuel***
Tip: It is important to know that most breakdown cover policies do not include wrong fuel correction. They will charge more for that service and may use a third party agent, please check small print of any agreement before purchase.
It is true that the majority of all service provider call outs are fixed at the roadside
and the likelihood of repairs being more serious can be based on accident damage, bad service or an older vehicle. A new car may need a lower level of cover.
If the vehicle cannot be fixed at the roadside all breakdown cover providers offer a
service to tow or transport the vehicle to a local garage or home if close enough.
Tip: Check each service provider to what distance they are prepared to to tow your vehicle to a garage or home. If you regularly travel beyond that distance, a more serious breakdown may incur extra garage charges.
Tip: Roadside Assistance typically does not cover any issues at or close to home.
Check out what distance from home each policy will start at, for example ¼ or ½ mile etc.
Breakdown Recovery – An Extra Level
When longer distances are covered in a vehicle and want to control where any repairs are made then Breakdown Recovery can be that next level of cover.
Should a breakdown occur that cannot be repaired at the roadside, this policy will transport your vehicle and its passengers to any location in mainland UK. This could be home or a chosen garage, depending on circumstance.
It should be noted however, that the transportation for the passengers, may only be to sit in the recovery vehicle.
Who actually recovers the vehicle to the chosen location, will differ from service to service, sometimes 3rd party companies are used.
Tip: Sometimes a patrol van attending call-out may have a selection of popular parts that can be bought directly from them, typically batteries or bulbs etc.
This is normally regarded as an extra service purchase. And the most common issue would be non starting vehicles. All previous policies tend not to cover instances that happen at home or nearby. Those with little knowledge of car mechanics, or those without the tools or physical ability to repair the car, may choose to buy this Home Assistance upgraded option.
Tip: Make sure you know how many call-outs you are allowed a year before buying. Or if unlimited, are there conditions over similar issues. For example if there are continuous call outs for a mechanical issue that has never been repaired.
Further Travel Options
This is another additional cover option, for those who may expect not to stay with
the vehicle with a breakdown a distance from home. Onward travel options can be arranged and paid for, should the passengers and driver aim to continue their journey, whilst the vehicle is transported home.
Tip: Onward travel may work for those travelling to a distant airport for a flight. It may be possible to still catch the flight and vehicle transported home. (clearly enough time will be needed to be factored in this instance)
European Breakdown Cover – Continental Protection
All of the big 3 breakdown service providers have arrangements with similar providers on the
continent to offer European Breakdown Cover. A European phone number will be provided and with English speaking call operators. However, it is likely that European Breakdown Cover options will only be roadside assistance, it is unlikely there will be a recovery service back to the UK.
Tip: Check to see if cover can be bought per trip or only annually and are there any extra conditions that need to be adhered too before purchase.
Shopping For Other Breakdown Cover Options
Other types of vehicles can be covered with a little search of the websites such as
- Motorcycle Breakdown Cover
- Van Breakdown Cover
- Horsebox Breakdown Cover
- Caravan Breakdown Cover
- Business Breakdown Cover
- Joint Cover
- Family Breakdown Cover
Tip: The whole point of this type of service is to make life easier and give peace of mind should a breakdown occur.
Taking the time to choose the right policy that suits your lifestyle is an important step.
Tip: Never buy a breakdown cover policy unless you are sure of what you are purchasing, take the time to be informed, read the small print on the websites to make sure you purchase the best breakdown cover for you.