Many drivers worry about their car breaking down in the middle of a motorway, isolated area or even a town, but is it worth spending money on separate insurance for those “just in case” moments?. Drivers spent annually £1.5Bn on breakdown coverage for their cars last year. Many UK residents don’t realize that these insurance policies do not usually provide breakdown coverage when driving abroad, for example into Europe. Being broken down is aggravating enough, but being stuck in another country where there may be language barriers and different motoring laws can bring even more difficulty to travelers trying to have a peaceful holiday.
When shopping around for car insurance, there are some questions to ask providers about breakdown coverage which can help in determining if it’s worth the extra money. Some examples of questions are:
- If my car breaks down, will the roadside assistance company try and fix it or just take me to a garage where I’ll have to pay for the repair?
- How long on average does it take for roadside assistance to come to help?
- How many cars are covered under my breakdown insurance?
- If I breakdown in a different country, what coverage is there since I like to travel to different countries?
- Who can I cover besides myself? (e.g. Family, passengers, friends)
- Is there a maximum number of allowable service calls per year?
According to price comparison websites, these types of questions should be asked before deciding on spending money on breakdown insurance coverage.
How it works
The two companies that dominate the business of roadside recovery are well-known – the RAC and the AA. Similar to AAA in the US, the driver calls into these companies, reports their problem to them, and the dispatcher sends the message about the problem out to their recovery operatives. Sometimes you will get an actual employee from one of these roadside assistance groups coming to your rescue, BUT lately this has begun changing. AAA or Triple A in the USA has been doing this for years; when the driver calls into the dispatch center and reports their problem, the dispatch center then calls a local gas station or recovery company to help with your problem. Sometimes the local company is chosen by you and other times it is not. This is now creeping in as a practise in the UK.
In some instances drivers break down only to find that the breakdown insurance that they paid for covered the driver for the towing of their car BUT not the repair. The driver is still responsible to pay for the repair and then send in the bill to get a reimbursement from the roadside assistance company when a local company comes to help you in your time of crisis. The driver is left with no choice but to agree to the mechanic fixing their car because no other company was called, nor the driver could do a price comparison when stuck on the road. Be aware when shopping for breakdown insurance and decide whether it truly is offering value for money.