There will almost certainly come a time when your usually reliable vehicle will grind to a halt by the roadside, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere. If you’ve been smart, you’ll have bought yourself some breakdown cover, but which is the best, which is the cheapest and which will get you out of trouble with the least hassle? Here are three of the best and cheapest options available.
AA’s cheapest breakdown cover
The AA’s cheapest breakdown cover is £34.99 for the first 12 months, covering one vehicle in the UK. Unless you solely drive in one car it may be worth paying £44.99 for the first year to get the ‘cover for you’ option, which gives you breakdown cover on any vehicle you drive ─ not just your own.
AA breakdown cover gives you roadside assistance so long as you break down more than a quarter of a mile from your home. If the AA is unable to fix your car at the roadside it will tow your vehicle to a local garage or destination of your choice with up to seven passengers.
The AA was given a ‘Recommended Provider’ award from consumer magazine Which and a five-star rating from Defaqto. 8 out of every 10 cars are fixed at the roadside in an average of less than 30 minutes. You get five call-outs per membership year before the AA will charge you extra.
Green Flag’s cheapest breakdown cover
Green Flag comes in with the cheapest cover. The £27 ‘Rescue’ option includes roadside assistance, the use of specialist equipment where necessary to get you out of snow and muddy conditions, plus unlimited callouts. The roadside assistance is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Green Flag will tow you to the nearest garage if your vehicle is unfixable at the roadside. If the garage is closed you will be taken home. Green Flag, unlike the AA and RAC, will pick you up the next day and take you and your vehicle to a garage at no extra cost.
Those of you with cars likely to break down at home might want to consider paying from £45 for ‘Rescue Plus’. This adds cover at home so you can get help if stuck at home, and covers you if you accidentally put diesel in a petrol car or vice-versa.
Personal breakdown cover instead of vehicle-specific cover costs more (from £38 for Rescue and from £74 for Rescue Plus) but is worth a look if you drive more than one vehicle. It helps that, at the time of writing, there is a 2 for 1 offer so you and one other member of your household can get cover in the UK.
It’s worth noting the callouts are unlimited, but you may find your premium goes up in years to come if you end up using their services too much.
Green Flag was rated five-stars by Defaqto and was awarded Best Breakdown Cover Provider by Your Money in 2013. The average response time is 46 minutes, which is less than the hour it aims to be with you by. If it takes longer than an hour to get to you Green Flag offers a 50 per cent membership renewal discount.
RAC’s cheapest breakdown cover
For £33.99 you can be covered on one vehicle regardless of who is driving at the time of the breakdown — a useful feature. You can add up to three vehicles on a single membership, although doing so is effectively the same price as having two separate vehicle policies as two vehicles costs £61.99. Three costs £91.99.
Those of you who want personal cover with the RAC can expect to pay £43.99 or £73.99 for joint cover, which covers you and one other named driver in any vehicle.
Both personal and vehicle cover includes roadside assistance, which means your vehicle will be attended to providing you break down more than a quarter of a mile from your home. If a vehicle is unfixable at the roadside you will be towed to a destination of your choice within 10 miles, be that a garage or your home.
The RAC was given a five-star rating by Defaqto. It has more than 2,000 patrol vehicles in its fleet. The average response time is around 40 minutes.
Any other pointers?
Shopping around is a good idea. If you’re already a customer, bear in mind there is often little stopping you from cancelling a policy and then reapplying as a new customer, letting you have a cheaper introductory price once again.
Be mindful that certain restrictions apply on vehicle cover such as the age of the vehicle. If your ride is more than 10 years old you may have to go elsewhere. Getting a personal quote with your precise vehicle details from a breakdown cover provider will let you know exactly what’s what.
Be wary of auto renewal. There is a grace period you can cancel within. After that you will likely be slapped with a charge, not to mention the hassle of a customer services phone call. If you do choose to cancel, do it through the provider and not by cancelling the direct debit as this can make things unnecessarily complicated.
Our last bit of advice is arguably the most important. Be sure to take your membership card with you and proof of ID or risk being stranded, defeating the object of buying breakdown cover in the first place.