So, you’ve decided that you need a UK breakdown cover but don’t know who to buy it with. You’ve done your homework and know that the AA, RAC, and Green Flag are the three biggest players in a crowded market – but how do you choose between them? We made it easy for you to decide on the best breakdown cover for your vehicle.
The best UK breakdown cover providers in 2021
These are the most reputable breakdown cover companies on the UK market in 2021:
1. The AA
The AA is the largest breakdown provider in the UK. They have over 15 million members and repair over 3.5 million cars each year. The AA has a good reputation and they claim to repair a car in 30 minutes on average.
RAC is one of the most recommended breakdown cover providers in the UK. It has a long history and a great reputation. RAC is used by over 7 million customers.
3. QDOS Breakdown
QDOS breakdown is a highly rated breakdown cover provider. They offer both UK and EU breakdown cover, and they claim to fix 4 out of 5 vehicles at the roadside. Including up to 1 hour roadside assistance, vehicle home start and unlimited callouts per year, QDOS breakdown is one of the best options available.
4. GEM Motoring Assist
Another recommended breakdown cover provider is GEM Motoring Assist. They claim to be up to 63% cheaper than their competitors. They offer unlimited callouts, a membership club and a 5 star Defaqto rating.
5. Green Flag
Green Flag is the biggest challenger to the two industry leaders. Green Flag is a reliable company all around and offers its services at more competitive prices than the AA or RAC. Green Flag’s response time is on average 30 minutes and they repair 86% of all cars at the roadside.
How much is breakdown cover in the UK?
|The AA||From £6 per month|
|RAC||From £9.50 per month|
|QDOS Breakdown||From £18.29 per year|
|GEM Motoring Assist||From £78.50 per year|
|Green Flag||From £30 per year|
How to pick the best UK breakdown cover provider?
Picking the best breakdown cover for your vehicle is not an easy task and is made more complicated because everyone’s requirements are so different; but, by looking at your priorities, attitudes, and needs we can help you to narrow it down a bit!
The AA may be the most widely known breakdown cover provider in the UK, but do they offer you the best value for money?
For £11.95 a month, you get unlimited callouts, roadside assistance and at-home recovery. When compared to others on this list, that is incredibly basic.
But, you are covered from home to over a ¼ of a mile from your front door. A mechanic will typically fix your vehicle within 30 minutes as standard and covers whoever is behind the wheel.
The catch? Anything extra has to be added on top of your package. So if you want cover at home, a hire car or help to cover expenses if you breakdown further afield, then you will need to upgrade your package. However, with three breakdown packages to choose from, you can select the amount of cover you want, giving you more flexibility across the board.
Like the AA, RAC offers three different levels of cover to choose from. No matter which level of cover you choose, you get roadside assistance, home rescue, and some level of garage support and onward travel included – a bit more than the AA’s basic package!
What’s more, you will be given a detailed ‘Fault report for the garage,’ which includes a suspected fault diagnosis created by the patrol mechanic.
GEM Motoring Assist
Although you may be less familiar with GEM Motoring Assist, they have been offering award-winning breakdown cover and have been a respected voice in the motoring industry since 1932.
Completely UK-based and offering a personal comprehensive annual breakdown cover package, which means you are covered in whatever vehicle you are driving. GEM provides more than just cover for breakdown.
With their unique member’s area, which offers a broad range of exclusive discounts and access to free expert technical advice, you get a lot for your budget. Plus, they are typically 63% cheaper than other policies on the market.
Launching in 2007 and offering breakdown insurance four years later, QDOS are an emerging force within the industry that can no longer be ignored.
Their whole ethos is built on the customer experience, placing you at the heart of all their operations and services. You see, your opinion really does matter to them.
With no call out charges or excesses to pay, QDOS’s basic package offers roadside assistance, recovery up to 10 miles, medical transfer and message relay – informing your work colleagues, family or friends where you are and why you’re late.
Need to cover more than just your car? Well, a Green Flag cover policy covers the vehicle, no matter who’s driving. You also get the flexibility to choose your cover, with all the basics thrown in as standard.
If you didn’t need to be rescued during your policy term, then Green Flag will give you a discount on renewal.
Does size matter to you?
All three are big companies in the car breakdown market; none are likely to go under leaving you stranded and all have the resources to deal with your problems, no matter how big and no matter which European country you find yourself in.
The RAC is owned by CVC Capital Partners and GIC Private Limited, has more than 12.7m UK personal and business members and over 1,750 patrols, dealing with 2.5 million breakdowns every year.
Green Flag, which is part of the Direct Line Group, has over 5 million members and employs a network of local contractors to handle breakdowns.
The AA, meanwhile, deals with 3.5 million broken-down cars a year. They don’t say precisely how many patrols they have but claim that “no other breakdown provider has as many dedicated patrols.” They also have 14 million members, which makes them the largest car breakdown service provider by a huge margin.
Do you want to cover the car or the driver?
Sounds like a simple question, doesn’t it? Well, it is but it’s a fundamental point to consider and one that will help you decide who to take breakdown cover out with.
Green Flag, for example, cover the vehicle. This can be a real boon and save you a fortune if you have one car that a number of people drive. The AA also offers this as an option, as do the RAC.
The AA and the RAC can also cover an individual regardless of which car they are in. This will be the best option if you regularly drive, or are a passenger in, a number of different cars.
Is price important to you?
The cost of goods and services are rising all the time and it’s important to economize whenever you can. It is important not to skimp on your cover though; there is no point in saving ten pounds and if that means that you then have to pay over the odds to be towed home.
You will get the best price with all of the big three breakdown companies if you buy online, although it is also worth looking out for special offers in newspapers and at shows if you aren’t in a hurry.
Traditionally Green Flag have been the cheapest breakdown company of the three with the AA and RAC being neck-and-neck after that.
All are very keen to attract new members and often reserve their best deals for them, something that you can use at renewal time.
Speed of response
Green Flag lead the field here, claiming that their average response time is 30 minutes, a figure that is helped by employing a network of local agents to act on their behalf. The RAC aim to reach their customers in 40 minutes while the AA doesn’t quote an average response time.
The RAC have the highest number of patrols per member while the AA have the highest number in total.
However, both QDOS and GEM Motoring Assist aim to have you back on the road within an hour, or the operator will get you to the nearest local garage to fix the fault.
Who is the best at repairing cars at the roadside?
Again, Green Flag are the best here, repairing 86% of all cars at the roadside.
The RAC and the AA tie for second place with both claiming that they can fix 80% of breakdowns at the roadside. Interestingly, the AA claim that they take an average of 30 minutes to effect roadside repairs; neither Green Flag or the RAC quote for repair time.
What if I’ve already broken down?
Both the RAC and the AA will provide breakdown cover, even if you’ve already broken down. Just don’t expect to get their best prices…
Are you a traditionalist?
The purchase of any product is rarely an entirely objective exercise. Tick boxes and flowcharts only go so far in helping consumers decide what to buy; emotion and instinct play a part too – even in the purchase of car breakdown cover!
The AA and RAC have a long and distinguished history. The AA was initially formed to help protect motorists by warning them of police speed traps (they did this by NOT saluting members if a policeman was in the area).
They also gave legal advice and erected warning signs for motorists. If tradition and the spirit of defending the motorist against the government and the forces of law and order is your thing then the AA may well be your first choice!
The RAC were more motorsport-oriented in the early days, staging the first ever British Grand Prix in 1926 at the famous Brooklands circuit. They then went on the sponsor the RAC rally, an event that it would be true to say developed rallying as we know it today. If you are a motorsport fan then the heritage and evocative images that the RAC conjure up may mean that they are your number one choice.
Green Flag were one of the first ‘independent’ breakdown companies and some claim that they forced the AA and RAC to develop their services to include cover in the event of an accident as well as providing a nationwide recovery service, both of which Green Flag pioneered.
They also use a network of local contractors instead of employing their own patrols; if an independent spirit and supporting the local economy is important to you then Green Flag will be worth considering.
Are ‘extras’ important to you?
The ‘extras’ that the three breakdown companies provide vary too. The AA, for example, has a directory of discounts for members, covering dining, days out, other AA products and services, parking, clothing, car repairs, and holidays. They claim that their members can save up to £300 a year by using the directory.
The RAC offer a no-claims discount that can reduce the cost of membership by 10% for every year that you don’t call them out, up to a maximum of 50%.
Green Flag offer a no-claims discount too and they will even protect this once you have had four years within making a claim. They will also give you £10 if they don’t reach you and your broken down car within one hour of calling them.
The final point to consider is the breakdown company’s reputation; do their customers like them and would they use them again?
Green Flag’s claims regarding customer satisfaction are limited to telling us that they won the 2010 Your Money award.
The AA claim that 95% of their customers would recommend them to a friend, showing that the majority of their customers are highly satisfied with the service that they receive.
The Institute of Customer Service rated the RAC number one in the UK Customer Satisfaction Index in 2010. They also won the 2009 J D Power ‘Roadside Assistance’ award for the fourth year running.
However, you can’t ignore GEM Motoring Assist. Not only do they hold a 5-star Defaqto rating, but they have been dominating the Auto Express Driver Power Awards consistently for the past twelve years.
While QDOS are the newbies on the block, they are well-rated amongst their customers. With 4 out of 5 vehicles fixed at the roadside, they are a worthwhile competitor to the big three.