The Royal Automobile Club, or RAC, is the oldest of the breakdown service providers, founded in 1897 as the ‘Automobile Club’. It employed the first uniformed patrolmen in 1901 and received Royal assent in 1907, becoming the Royal Automobile Club that we’ve come to know and love.
The RAC has a long association with motorsport, first organising the British Grand Prix in 1926 held at Brooklands. This inaugural Grand Prix featured well-known names such as Malcolm Campbell and Henry Seagrave and covered 110 laps of the 2.61-mile banked circuit.
The first RAC Rally soon followed this in 1932, with 367 entrants who covered the 1,000-mile distance at an average speed of just 25mph. By 1960 the RAC Rally had been increased to 2,000 miles in distance and by 1961 modern rallying had been born with the introduction of forest stages where high speeds could be attained.
Someone calls the RAC Breakdown service every 7 seconds. They claim to have more patrols per member (over 1,750 patrols currently) than anyone else and have a target of 40 minutes to reach a member in distress.
Vehicle Breakdown Cover
The RAC can provide Personal Cover that gives cover regardless of what car you are driving, or Vehicle Cover that covers the car no matter who is driving.
There are levels of cover: ‘Roadside’, ‘Roadside and Recovery’, ‘Roadside, Recovery, and At Home’, and Roadside, Recovery, At Home and Onward Travel’.
Roadside cover provides roadside assistance by an RAC patrol who will try to repair your car at the side of the road, providing it is at least ¼ mile from your home address. If they can’t repair it – and they claim to repair 80% of all cars at the side of the road – they will recover you and your car to a garage of your choice within 10 miles. You then liaise with the garage to get your car repaired, something that might be a problem if you are on a long journey or, heaven forbid, starting your holiday.
The RAC will also help you if you have an accident.
Roadside and Recovery gives the same level of cover as before but adds recovery of you and your car – along with up to 6 passengers – anywhere in the UK if they can’t fix it at the side of the road. This means that you can continue your journey or start your holiday even if your car lets you down.
Roadside, Recovery and At Home adds recovery and help at your home address or anywhere within ¼ of a mile of it. If your car won’t start because of, for example a flat battery, the RAC will come out and sort it our for you, something that you’ll appreciate on a workday!
Roadside, Recovery, At Home, and Onward Travel is the most expensive cover buy gives the most peace of mind. It adds the cost of a hire car for up to 3 days, or the cost of public transport for your party or the cost of an overnight hotel stay.
Cover can also be provided for European travel in 20 countries. This provides breakdown cover as well as the costs of repatriation for you, your party and your car if necessary as well as some legal costs.
The RAC also provides a No Claims Discount service, reducing the cost of membership by 10% for every year that you don’t call them out, up to a maximum of 50%.
The RAC also provide:
- Driving schools through the British School of Motoring (BSM), which it owns,
- Legal services,
- Car inspection,
- Travel and traffic information,
- Vehicle inspections,
- Car checks,
- Retail sale of car tyres (in conjunction with BlackCircles),
- Car Hire (with Europcar),
- Hotel booking, planning and inspection.
They also maintain two rather nice private-members’ clubs in Pall Mall, London and Woodcote Park, Surrey. Sadly, membership of the RAC Breakdown service doesn’t give you membership of these clubs too!