People take out breakdown cover for added peace of mind, but which providers are on the ball, and which ones will leave you waiting?
While it’s possible to take out breakdown cover if and when you have a fault with your car, this adds stress to an already difficult situation. What’s more, you’re less likely to get a good price if you’re making a ‘distress’ purchase.
Here, we detail the best breakdown firms in the business, looking at how quickly technicians turned up, how effective they were at getting you back on the road, and a number of other factors.
We’ve changed how we calculate our scores for 2020, putting an emphasis on the callout experience itself, and less on how easy it was to take out cover in the first place.
How long did it take the breakdown provider to arrive at your vehicle?
|Less than 30 minutes||23.90%|
|30 minutes to one hour||42.90%|
|One to two hours||22.90%|
|Two to three hours||4.90%|
|More than 3 hours||5.50%|
One important thing to consider when choosing a breakdown provider is how quickly they will come to the rescue.
The good news is that 66.8 per cent of respondents said a technician arrived within an hour, while almost 90 per cent of drivers were rescued within two hours.
That will be cold comfort, however, to the 5.5 per cent who had to wait more than three hours for rescue.
Result of callout
|I was towed to a garage of my choice||16.60%|
|I was towed to a garage of the breakdown provider’s choice||2%|
|I was towed to a location of my choice||10.30%|
|The problem was permanently fixed and I continued my journey||42.70%|
|The problem was temporarily fixed and I continued my journey||24%|
|They couldn’t help me||4.30%|
The good news is that in the majority of cases (66.7 per cent), respondents’ cars were repaired by the roadside, permanently or temporarily. But while some faults inevitably require garage attention, it’s unacceptable that more than six per cent either weren’t helped, or weren’t towed where they wanted.
Reason for choosing provider
|Good service in the past||10.10%|
|Used them in the past||11.10%|
|Range of services||8%|
|They offer discounts for loyalty or no call-out fees||3.10%|
|It came free with another service (bank/credit card, insurance policy)||14.10%|
|It came free when I bought the car||11.50%|
Price and reputation are the most important elements for people choosing a breakdown provider, and Driver Power certainly helps with this latter aspect. A canny 25.6 per cent, however, didn’t pay a penny for their cover.
Best breakdown cover providers 2020
1. LV= Britannia Rescue – 83.24%
Congratulations to the insurance company LV=, and its breakdown arm Britannia Rescue: coming top in our Driver Power breakdown rankings is no mean feat.
No other firm has friendlier staff, you say, while technicians are impeccably turned out, couldn’t be more helpful, and call-centre staff keep you well informed during your hour of need. A top-notch set of scores from a worthy winner.
Customer’s view: “Efficient, good value and with quick response times. The firm uses reputable companies for assistance and keeps you well informed.”
- Arrived within an hour? 64.3%
- Top result of callout: Towed to garage of choice (42.9%)
2. Green Flag – 77.42%
No other firm is ranked as getting to you faster than Green Flag, while you also say rescue agents are pretty good at getting you going without having to resort to towing.
No other company is better at keeping you in the loop about when help is likely to arrive, either, but purchasing cover isn’t as straightforward as you feel it should be. On a more positive note, Green Flag staff are friendly and polite.
Customer’s view: “I have European cover with Green Flag and the smartphone app was able to locate me when I broke down in Spain. Most impressive.”
- Arrived within an hour? 76.7%
- Top result of callout: Permanent fix (40%)
3. GEM Motoring Assist – 77.27%
Last year’s winner falls three places as we focus more on the callout experience and less on the buying process, and GEM’s disappointing fifth-place rank for the length of time a technician took to turn up drags down its scores somewhat.
But the firm unquestionably offers great value for money, buying cover is quick and easy, while you say staff are smartly dressed and generally helpful.
Customer’s view: “Call centre is staffed with helpful people who communicate well, while the technician who came was brilliant. Cover was good value, too.”
- Arrived within an hour? 60%
- Top result of callout: Permanent fix (32.5%)
4. RAC – 67.30%
The AA’s biggest rival pips it by one place and less than one percentage point. You’re not hugely impressed with the speed with which the reassuring sight an RAC van appears on the horizon in your hour of need, and also rank the firm down for how likely you are to get your car fixed by the roadside.
But at least RAC staff are reasonably friendly and well turned-out, and the company’s cover is easy to buy.
Customer’s view: “My car had a flat battery and the rescue van had the correct replacement on board. I was back on the road in less than an hour.”
- Arrived within an hour? 58.7%
- Top result of callout: Permanent fix (36.5%)
5. AA – 66.47%
The UK’s largest breakdown firm can’t rise above fifth, mainly because drivers think its technicians could be more presentable, and cover could be cheaper to buy.
At least AA members are pretty likely to get on their way again after a breakdown, while almost 70 per cent of respondents told us they were rescued within an hour of calling for help. You wouldn’t mind if staff were a little more courteous, though.
Customer’s view: “I broke down in the middle of the night and was surprised when a [non-AA] local recovery agent turned up. But the van arrived quickly.”
- Arrived within an hour? 69.4%
- Top result of callout: Permanent fix (52.2%)
6. Admiral – 65.89%
Someone has to bring up the rear of our table, but given the number of breakdown firms available in the UK, sixth place is a fairly respectable result for the recovery arm of insurance company Admiral.
The firm’s best category score concerns the speed at which technicians turned up to help stranded motorists, but respondents say Admiral’s communications leave them in the dark, while staff could be friendlier, too.
Customer’s view: “The technician was very helpful, but I had to pay extra for my repair as my car needed parts. I had a good experience with Admiral overall, though.”
- Arrived within an hour? 71.4%
- Top result of callout: Permanent fix (52.4%)
Now see the best cars to own 2020, compiled from Driver Power data…
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