FeaturesChoosing a breakdown service

Choosing a breakdown service

Mike Brewer Motoring advises on how to be prepared if your car breaks down

Want to get the best breakdown cover? We’ve got a few things to consider before you make the decision

It’s safe to say that no one wants to experience their car breaking down, but no matter how well you look after it these things happen. It’s quite often things like a flat battery or puncture that catch us out, but whatever the cause you want to know that help is at hand. Which is why choosing a breakdown service can provide that crucial peace of mind, but with so many to choose from nowadays how do you pick the one that’s right for you? 

That’s why we’ve decided to take a look at a few things to consider before making that choice, so you can get the right cover without paying through the nose. It’s perhaps more important than ever given the proliferation of such services; things have come a long way since it was simply a case of picking between the AA or RAC as there’s now a wide choice of operators vying for your business. As you’d expect their offerings all differ slightly, so it pays to do your homework  

 You might be tempted to just buy the cheapest – let’s face it, no one likes paying too much for an insurance they may never use – but as being stranded at the side of the road is bad enough it really is wise to ensure the package you choose will actually meet your motoring needs. And one of the first choices is whether to go for vehicle or personal cover. The former is usually cheaper as it applies to just one specific vehicle, which might be fine if you very rarely drive (or are a passenger in) anything else. But if that’s not the case then opting for personal cover will be better as then you’ll be covered whatever vehicle you’re in – whether as driver or passenger. 

Then you’ll want to think about the level of cover you’ll need. Basic packages that offer roadside and home assistance only, and will tow your car to a local garage, can be temptingly-priced (and may be okay if you only undertake very local journeys) but may well have limitations on things like the number of call outs per year. The next step-up in cover will usually include transporting the vehicle and passengers to a destination you choose – usefully more flexible – while the most expensive packages can cover accommodation, use of a hire car, and European rescue. Given the latter type can easily cost £15-20 per month it’s important to consider whether you’ll ever actually need such comprehensive cover.   

Once you’ve made that choice, what else is there to consider? One thing that’s going to be feel very important when you’ve broken down is how quickly they’ll get to you, so information such as the percentage of breakdowns reached within the hour, and the average wait time for a mechanic to arrive, would be very useful. However, such figures aren’t always easy to come by – the RAC wouldn’t tell us (make of that what you will), although another leading provider, LV=Britannia, said their average wait time was 48 minutes.    

In the absence of such information it’s worth checking the internet for any customer satisfaction surveys. One of the biggest is the Driver Power Survey carried out every year by Auto Express magazine, and in 2020 those that responded rated LV=Britannia as the best with a score of 83.24%. They were followed by Green Flag at 77.42%, while the RAC and AA both scored around 67%. It’s also well worth talking to family and friends about their experiences. 

And if you’re still undecided then take a look at whether a provider offers any additional benefits to membership – these can range from discounts on other services and family excursions, to rewards for not having any call outs in a year. An operator that gives priority to certain customers, such as those travelling alone or with children, might also influence your choice. 

It might seem like a lot of effort, but taking the time to do a bit of homework and considering exactly what level of cover is right for you will seem very sensible when you’re waiting on the hard shoulder on a dark and rainy night.  

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Money Saving Expert 

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