Best Car Breakdown Cover 2021 | The Sun UK

YOU can reduce the distress of breaking down by getting one of the best breakdown cover policies in 2021.

When it’s cold, wet and windy and your car conks out, there’s nothing worse than being miles from home with no quick fix.

You put yourself in a whole new world of pain without breakdown cover, and your dealership cannot help you fix it — so we're taking a look at why you should get breakdown cover, and who you should buy it from.

Is breakdown cover worth having?

If you don’t have breakdown cover, your only choice is to call a recovery service and pay for a tow to a local garage. The cost can quickly run into the hundreds of pounds, and you'll need to work out how you’ll get home and retrieve your car at a later date if the garage can’t fix it.

Plus, you might end up paying top dollar for repairs that you could get done significantly cheaper elsewhere. Breakdown services have various plans, from coming out and towing you to the nearest garage or even dropping you at a station and fronting the cost of your train fare so you can continue your journey.

Knowing that you can get help (even if you’re in someone else’s car) makes breakdown cover is a no-brainer for peace-of-mind.

The best breakdown covers for 2021

1. GEM Motoring Assist

  • GEM Motoring Assist Breakdown Cover, from £65.42 per year – buy here

GEM Motoring Assist has been rated highly for how good its buying process is. It was the winner of AutoExpress' 2019 Driver Power Survey (it has been in the top three every year since 2012) with the magazine stating that it was impressed by how communicative and friendly staff were, and the value for money that its policies represent.

GEM claims that it is up to 63% cheaper than similar breakdown providers, and it definitely looks good on paper — its discounted price of £65.42 per year works out at just £5.45 per month.

However, this year it found itself in third, due to the fact that staff can occasionally take a while to reach you.

GEM's value for money has also been boosted by an offer that gives you 12 months of breakdown cover for the price of 10.

2. RAC

  • RAC Breakdown Cover, from £9.50 per month – buy here

The RAC is one of the best-known motor repair companies, and claims to be the biggest provider of breakdown cover in the UK, with nearly 12 million personal members and business customers.

It offers three levels of breakdown cover: Standard, Advanced and Ultimate, and, at the time of writing, it is offering a number of deals and discounts that make them look very attractive — new buyers of Advanced insurance — which costs £15 per month — get one month free, and buyers of Ultimate insurance, which comes with up to a week of alternative transport and a dedicated rescue line, get three months free — a saving of £57.

3. The AA

  • AA Breakdown Cover, from £8.66 per month – buy here

Generally classed as the RAC's main competitor, the AA has become a household name across the UK in its 116 years on the UK's roads. It also claims to be the country's largest breakdown company, reporting that one of its iconic yellow vans reaches a customer in need every 10 seconds.

It has one of the highest levels of roadside repair, with the company saying that between September 2019 and August 2020, 78 per cent of customers had their car repaired without having to be taken to a garage.

The AutoExpress survey found that the top result of a callout was a permanent fix, with 52.2 per cent of AA customers surveyed saying that their car was fully repaired at the roadside. While that's lower than the figure on the AA website, it's still very impressive — it was only beaten in the survey by Admiral, which managed 52.4 per cent but finished below the AA due to issues with its communication with customers.

Which is the best car breakdown service?

The million-dollar question. On an annual basis, the AutoExpress Driver Power survey quizzes drivers on their experiences.

In 2020, LV= Britannia Rescue came out top, usurping GEM Motoring Assist, which took the top spot in 2019.  The motoring magazine's survey gave it a 83.24 per cent rating, with 64.3 per cent of customers saying that help arrived within an hour of them calling. The magazine noted that both call centre staff and technicians are super-friendly.

In order of customer satisfaction, Auto Express Driver Power found the top five most appreciated breakdown services to be:

  1. LV= Britannia Rescue – 83.24%
  2. Green Flag – 77.42%
  3. GEM Motoring Assist – 77.27%
  4. RAC – 67.3%
  5. AA – 66.47%

However, the best breakdown cover totally depends on your circumstances, the model and condition of your car and the timing of your accident or breakdown.

If you travel to Europe often, GEM Motoring Assist’s Euro Plus package has received good feedback on reliability.

The other thing to bear in mind is the network of the brand. Both the RAC and The AA have an incredible network of employees trundling around the roads of the UK in those famous yellow vans.

Autoaid works by harnessing the power of several smaller breakdown services and pulling them together. While this, in theory, should create a broader network, Autoaid has less control over the standard of customer service, response time and proposed solution.

Does car insurance include breakdown cover?

Car insurance doesn’t tend to include breakdown cover; they are two very different products. Some insurers like Admiral also have a breakdown service, available to join if you have broken down ahead of getting help.

Does breakdown affect no claims bonus?

Breakdown should have nothing to do with your insurance, even if your insurance provider is the one providing the breakdown service too. The only time your no-claims bonus (NCB) will be affected by a breakdown is if you need to make a claim on the insurance for a component or more-involved repair.

As most often breakdowns can be fixed roadside, it’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about your NCB.

How much does breakdown recovery cost and when can I buy it?

Breakdown cover can be paid for monthly or annually. If you can afford the upfront cost, it's often cheaper to pay annually.

You can purchase it at any time — even after you've broken down, although purchasing emergency breakdown cover is significantly more expensive than purchasing it ahead of time.

Prices tend to start at around £5 or £6 per month for the cheapest providers (such as GEM Motoring Assist), rising to £9-£11 for more generous deals and edging closer to £20 for the most comprehensive packages.

 

What happens if I break down without breakdown cover?

You have a few options if you break down with out cover, but none of them are cheap. Your first option is to phone a local garage, who will come out and collect you. They'll usually charge a flat fee (around £40), then charge you further for every mile they have to drive. You'll obviously then have to pay for the necessary repairs to your vehicle.

You can also call a breakdown cover provider, who will provide you with emergency breakdown cover and send someone to either repair your car at the side of the road or take it to be fixed. However, the cover will cost more than if you had paid for it in advance, and the provider may also charge you a steep emergency call-out fee.

If you're on a motorway, you can use one of the emergency phones to call for recovery. In limited circumstances Highways England will provide free assistance (for example if you have broken down around roadworks and are causing congestion) but usually you will have to pay a hefty fee. This option tends to be seen as a last resort.

Can I cancel my breakdown cover policy?

You can typically cancel breakdown cover without too much hassle, but depending on the terms of your contract and your payment structure (i.e. whether you're paying annually or monthly) you may be liable to pay some administrative and/or cancellation fees. However, these vary between providers, so the best way to find out how much you may have to pay is to call the company's customer service number.

Is breakdown cover worth it?

Purchasing breakdown cover is not mandatory. However, it offers peace of mind, allowing you to feel safe in the knowledge that if you break down, someone will quickly be able to get to you in order to fix your car while on the road, or take you and your car somewhere that it can be repaired.

If you have a brand new car, this may feel like an unnecessary expenditure, but if you're driving an older car or a vehicle from a car maker with a bad reputation for reliability, or if you often make long journeys, breakdown cover is a sensible purchase – if you choose not to, then have to pay for emergency cover or recovery, you might regret your decision.

Can I add another car to my breakdown cover?

This depends on which kind of cover you decide to get. If you get vehicle breakdown cover, it will tend just to cover your vehicle. However, most policies will allow you to add other people who drive the car onto the policy, as long as they reside at the same address as you.

If you need a policy that allows you to cover multiple vehicles, you may want to opt for a family plan, which will be more expensive but allows you to insure multiple people on a number of vehicles.

Which is better – the AA, RAC or Greenflag?

In 2020's AutoExpress Driver Power survey, motorists were surveyed about their satisfaction with breakdown cover providers. Out of the AA, RAC and Greenflag, Greenflag fared the best, coming in second with a 77 per cent approval rating — people surveyed noted how communicative technicians were regarding when they are expected to arrive, and AutoExpress found them to be the quickest responders, too.

The RAC and the AA came fourth and fifth respectively. People found RAC cover easy to purchase but some were disappointed by a slow response time, while AA customers were impressed by how quickly technicians arrived – even in the middle of the night – but a few noted that they could be a bit more friendly.

 

Enjoyed our guide on the best car breakdown cover? Why not check out our essential car accessories list?

Looking for more motoring recommendations? Check out our dedicated Sun Selects motoring section.

If you're in the market for car insurance, take a look at Times Money Mentor's car insurance guide.

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