With it being the oldest motoring company in Britain, having formed in 1897, the RAC has been a long-serving staple on the roads.
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Offering breakdown cover, roadside assistance, and other forms of motor insurance, many people use the RAC to help them stay mobile.
Although it is the longest-running breakdown cover provider, is the RAC still the best option for motorists, especially now that there are many alternatives to choose from?
This review aims to evaluate the effectiveness of RAC breakdown cover, comparing its recent performance with some of the other top breakdown cover providers in the UK. Before you sign up and become a RAC member, read this guide to help you be more confident that you’re choosing the best option for you.
When you get breakdown cover from RAC, you’ll instantly be covered for roadside assistance and at-home servicing, regardless of which level of cover you get.
When you buy breakdown cover, the services you get are usually broken into tiers, with the top-level of cover being the most comprehensive yet expensive. RAC is the only breakdown cover provider offering at-home services in their standard tier. This means that instead of paying extra to ensure you can get help if your car isn’t starting when on your driveway, you’ll have cover from the start.
With the RAC’s standard level of cover, you’ll also have access to a 10-mile tow if you need your vehicle to be taken to a garage for repairs.
Their more premium and expensive levels, such as their unlimited cover package, include a hire car to replace your vehicle while it’s getting repaired, unlimited call-outs, and national recovery, where you can get your car towed to any garage in the UK.
Plus, a membership with the RAC gets you more than just a standard breakdown cover. RAC offers free accident care, a service that helps you through the process of dealing with a motoring accident. They can also provide legal advice, but one of the most significant benefits is that you’ll get access to many discounts and local offers with your RAC membership.
With a membership, you’ll be able to pick up free hot drinks, money off gym memberships, discounts on fuel, cheaper MOTs, and more. All these extra perks make the RAC a very good option for breakdown cover in the UK.
The cost of your RAC membership will depend on the level of cover you purchase.
The cheapest cover you can get is their standard level, which comes to around £126.50 for the year. This may be more expensive than the base level cover you can get elsewhere; however, with the RAC standard policy, you get a lot more making it more value for money.
The RAC’s unlimited level of cover, which offers everything you could need from a breakdown cover provider, is around £176 a year. This is less than some other brands offering breakdown cover, such as the AA. If you’re looking for a comprehensive breakdown cover that leaves no stone unturned, the RAC may be the best option for you.
It’s also worth noting that you can get either personal or vehicle cover. With vehicle cover, you’ll be able to get assistance for a specific car regardless of who is driving it. With personal cover, you’re covered no matter what you’re driving.
The type of cover you choose will influence the total price you must pay when buying a breakdown cover, so think carefully about which type of cover best suits you. If you’re part of a family that all share one car, getting cover for that one vehicle may be more cost-effective than getting cover for each individual.
Once you have selected the level of cover that you want, you’ll also have the option to add any extras to your policy, such as European breakdown cover. These add-ons are individually priced and will be added to your monthly fees. The more extras you add to your policy, the more expensive it can become.
When you break down on the side of the road, it’s important that you can get help quickly so that you can have your car repaired and get on with your travels. The RAC understands this and aims to get to every call-out within an hour.
The average wait time for the RAC is around 40-60 minutes, which is just as quick as some of the other leading breakdown services in the UK market.
With that said, far more people get seen within an hour when using the AA than when using the RAC. In fact, only 57% of customers get roadside assistance within an hour. This means that although most people get seen within an hour, you’re more likely to have to wait longer when using the RAC.
There have been multiple complaints against the RAC that they’ve left members stranded and waiting for assistance overnight, with some members claiming that they had to wait over 8 hours.
Waiting this long on the roadside can be dangerous, especially if you lack any food, water or warm clothes in your vehicle.
To keep yourself safe when broken down on the side of the road, always leave your vehicle and stand a few feet away from it. A broken-down car can easily be a challenging obstacle for other vehicles to drive past, and there have been cases in the past where an idle car has been crashed into.
It’s also a good idea to carry a high-vis vest in your car which you can wear when you break down. This ensures you can be seen by motorists, helping to keep you safe while you wait for assistance.
You won’t be charged for call-outs if you’re a RAC member. Even with their standard level of cover, you’ll have access to unlimited call-outs. This means that if your car continues to break down over the year, you can have peace of mind that you’ll be able to get help without any extra costs.
If you break down and aren’t a member with a breakdown cover provider, you can still call the RAC, and they will likely assist you. Of course, if you’re not currently a RAC member, then you will be charged for any call-outs and the services you receive. This can be an expensive way of getting your car serviced and repaired, so it’s best to buy breakdown cover to help keep the costs low.
The RAC offers a lot more than the AA in their standard package, meaning that at its cheapest, the RAC remains a very good value-for-money service. You will have to pay more for RAC cover than you would the AA, but this is because the AA offers very basic cover that only includes roadside assistance. With the RAC, you get roadside assistance, at-home servicing, and more.
Plus, as you progress through the levels, the RAC’s ultimate policy is cheaper than what’s on offer by the AA. You also get a lot more extra perks when becoming a RAC member.
However, despite getting a more comprehensive service on paper, in reality, the AA is still the more preferred service among reviewers in the UK, ranking well in many different categories.
The AA has a customer satisfaction rating of 82% and was rated 5/5 for arriving within an hour. In contrast, the RAC has a 73% customer satisfaction rating, which is likely attributed to the long wait times that many of its customers have to deal with.
The AA also has a greater success rate in being able to fix broken-down cars at the roadside. This means that if you’re with the RAC, you’re more likely to have your car towed to the nearest garage for repairs, which can be tiresome and also take a long time.
Although cheaper than the AA, it still ranks as the number two breakdown service because of its lacklustre performance regarding call-outs.
Despite some flaws, the RAC remains a good option for many road users regarding breakdown cover. Compared to others, you get a lot more for your money, giving you peace of mind that you’re covered no matter the circumstances of your breakdown.
It may not be the fastest and most consistent when it comes to roadside assistance and the speed of their call-outs, however, the majority of customers still get seen within an hour, which can help you get on with the rest of your day.
Plus, with the extra benefits and perks you get as a RAC member, it’s definitely a provider worth considering when choosing your own policy. When opting for the ultimate level of cover, there are not many other cheaper options, meaning that the RAC is a prime choice if you’re looking for a bargain or if you have a smaller budget and don’t want to compromise on your standard of breakdown cover.
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