March 20th, 2020 at 7:32 am
For a number of years, if you had a breakdown you would always go with either the RAC or the AA. A few years later, Green Flag arrived and so things stood for decades. Now, many banks and motor insurers are offering their own breakdown coverage as an add-on to their accounts or policies. If you’re not already with the RAC or AA, who will recovery your vehicle if you break down?
The RAC and AA both train and employ dedicated patrols. However, other recovery organisations used independent operators. There are some people who believe the standard of service and consistency offered by the big name companies is well worth paying a little extra for, however others think local operations might actually be a better choice for them, especially in rural areas where repairs can’t be carried out at the roadside.
There are two main factors that come into play when deciding on the right kind of cover to suit your needs:
- The kind of driving you do
- Your vehicle’s age
There are many kinds of cover to pick from. They include:
- Policies known as “pay and claim” where you pay in advance for your callouts and for recovering your vehicle in the even that it becomes necessary then you claim the amount back from the breakdown organisation. While this cover is affordable upfront, you’ll need to pay some large bills by the roadside should you break down.
- A local policy. This will work by offering cover for your car within a 10-25 mile radius of your home. They are more affordable than nationwide policies, so compare your costs and cover carefully.
- Limited local coverage for a single car that allows you to have breakdown annually. Any subsequent breakdown will be outside your policy’s terms and so you’ll be charged. If you break down outside the defined area, you’ll have to pay a large bill.
- Nationwide coverage. This type of cover will protect you from having to pay if you break down in location nationwide. Understanding, it costs more. There are several coverage types. With Roadside Assistance you’ll have a patrol van sent to you to repair the vehicle at the side of the road. Should a repair not be possible, your car will then be taken on to a garage nearby. Some types of nationwide cover require that you’re over quarter of a mile from your home in order to be eligible for a patrol van visit. There is also the Breakdown Recovery policy that means you and your passengers will also be transported on to your intended UK location if your car can’t be repaired at the side of the road. Finally, there’s the Homestart option which offers both the above covers plus, if your vehicle won’t start when you’re at home you can get a patrol van visit.
- Extras. Some breakdown policies also include overnight accommodation costs, car hire and cover for public transport costs.
Understanding Your Coverage
Lots of breakdown policies are costly since they offer cover for a single person travelling in any vehicle instead of the vehicle itself. Although this cover works well if you travel in multiple vehicles, if you drive only a single car, it’ll just be costing you an unnecessarily large amount.
Checking The Conditions
You should always take care to check the age limit of the policy if your car is older. Some coverages also limit how many callouts you can make each year. If you go over that amount the costs can mount up.
The Survey from What Car?
There was a survey carried out in 2019 by WhatCar into the various breakdown providers. This survey was carried out amongst slightly more than 18,000 vehicle owners and examined several key areas:
The length of time taken for the recovery team to get to the scene. The quickest response was under 30 minutes, the longest was more than 2 hours. The highest score was given to the AA – 23% of its callouts were reached in under 30 minutes. Autoaid and Green Flag were just behind at 22%.
Could the recovery team resolve the issue by the side of the road? Here the RAC excelled with a 40% repair rate as well as a 25% rate for carrying out a temporary repair that allowed the car to go on with its journey.
Overall, the survey discovered that the top provider of breakdown assistance was the AA when it came to speedy responses and their capabilities to carry out permanent repairs by the road. Second place was given to Green Flag and it’s definitely worth remembering that their cover for one vehicle is under 50% of the price of the AA’s cover.
Determine Your Priorities
When you regularly travel for work, or if you have young children, a speedy response could be the most important factor for you. There are several independent operators you may wish to consider including:
- Start Rescue
Cost Or Confidence?
Some drivers are more than happy to put up with high premiums in order to feel more confident about the service they’ll receive. However, if you’re happy to compare prices and drive only in your local area, you’ll find you can make significant savings. Largely, any breakdown is a matter of being lucky. If you always maintain and service your car properly you should have few problems. As long as you never allow your fuel to run too low, and check your lights, oil and water before you go on a long journey, you should mostly be fine.
If you do break down, you should have high visibility clothing inside your car as well as a torch and a warning triangle. Safety will always be the breakdown services’ top priority, and elderly or young drivers as well as cars with child passengers will usually be prioritised.