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Breakdown Cover: Roadside Assistance & Recovery

Since the RAC Breakdown cover I received with the purchase of my car has just run out, it is time for me to do some research into the breakdown service market to ensure I get the best cover for my needs.

Just a little bit about my situation, I drive a BMW Z4 which is about 5 years old now. It has done nearly 40k miles and I have never had a problem with it over the 2 years I have been driving it. Although I am not worried that my car will randomly break down while driving or parked up, I do worry about things such as flat batteries and burst tyres, especially when I am driving long distances.

There are three main players in the breakdown market in the UK and I think most of us have heard of all three. The three contenders within the breakdown market are The AA, Green Flag and RAC. While doing my research I was surprised by the amount of different deals on the market which is reflected in the price of the cover. The cheapest cover I could find was just £20 a year from Green Flag while the most expensive was £129 from the RAC. So what is the difference between these two covers? Lets dig a little deeper.

Roadside Assistance

There are four different elements to breakdown cover, all of which you should know about before you decide what type of cover would be suitable for your requirements. The most basic cover is a roadside assistance which allows you to call out your breakdown service anywhere in the UK and they will come to you to fix your car. If your car is unable to be fixed on the roadside, your car may have to be towed to a local garage but this expense is not covered by roadside assistance. If you only have roadside assistance and your car needs to be towed away, they will have to charge you extra on the day and that could be a considerable sum. The difference between roadside assistance on its own and a comparable cover with recovery is usually about twice the price, but if you ever get caught without it and you have to get your car towed away, you can expect to pay hundreds for the recovery so it is worth the extra investment, if only to save money later.

Home Recovery & Onward Jounrey

Roadside assistance is only good for when you are already on your travels so if your car doesn't start at home, you cannot call your breakdown company without Home recovery in your policy. Again this type of cover pretty much doubles your initial investment but if you have an unreliable car which often breaks down, this could be a real life saver. The last part of the equation is called Onward Journey and basically covers any car you drive or are a passenger in. This cover is very expensive as you can imagine but it means no matter what car you are in, you are always covered even if the driver of the vehicle is not.

Providers

So now we know what each cover entails lets look at the three contenders and the pricing for each to see which best suits my needs. As mentioned earlier, the cheapest cover of the bunch is for Roadside assistance only with Green Flag charging £20 per year while the AA and RAC both charge £28. For most of us, roadside assistance is enough but if you want recovery as well as roadside (which can save you a packet if you car needs to be towed away) Green Flag will charge you £40 while the AA and RAC goes up to £69. The best cover for me would be roadside and home assistance (I tend to leave my lights on and kill my battery overnight) and if I decided to go with Green Flag it would cost me £45 while RAC will charge me £66 and the AA a whopping £75. The full Monty of breakdown cover which covers all four areas starts at £69 from Green Flag but goes up to nearly £150 with the AA and RAC.

For someone like me whose car rarely breaks down, going with the cheaper Green Flag company could be a good option for me however I do not expect them to be as good as either the RAC or The AA. It may take them longer to get to me but I don't expect to call them very often if at all so the savings is very welcome to someone like me. The RAC and AA will no doubt provide the better service so if you regularly call out your breakdown company, I would pay the extra and go with a respected company who will get to you no matter where you broke down in the UK.


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