Let’s find out which is the best out of the three leading breakdown cover providers: The AA, RAC, and Green Flag.
The UK has three leading breakdown cover providers: The AA, RAC, and Green Flag. Most UK motorists use one of these three to protect their car in the case of a breakdown; however, it can be tricky knowing which of these three giants of the industry you should choose.
Although both the AA and RAC are the most established, Green Flag’s unique approach to breakdown cover also makes it an enticing option.
Here’s a deeper look at these three providers, comparing and contrasting their features, benefits, costs, and more to determine which of these three is the best in Britain for breakdown cover.
One of the best ways to see which of these leading UK breakdown cover providers is best is to compare them side by side. This table will illustrate the performance of each provider, comparing how they perform in key metrics.
The AA offers the best price of £74.00 at the time of this comparison. The AA has a repair success rate identical to RAC at 80% and a response time of 40 minutes.
Based on over 28,000 reviews.
RAC offers breakdown cover packages with prices from £74.00 when paid yearly. The average response time for RAC is 60 minutes and their repair success rate is 80%.
Based on over 84,000 reviews.
Green Flag is the most expensive of the 3 providers. They have a response time of 30 minutes and a repair success rate of 86%.
Based on over 21,000 reviews.
When comparing the prices of these brands, this article will look at the cost of their basic level breakdown cover plan and their most expensive, comprehensive plans. This can help customers understand the price range of each provider to better determine what to expect.
When finding the prices for each breakdown cover provider for this table, the same parameters were used when getting a quote to ensure that the prices were fair. These prices are all for personal breakdown cover for one vehicle, applied by an individual in their mid-20s. The prices you’re quoted may differ depending on your circumstances and the type of cover you’re looking to get.
The table also looks at important data for each provider, such as their average rating on Trustpilot, to see what current and past customers think.
The table will also detail how fast each provides roadside assistance on average and how often cars are fixed on the roadside without needing to get transported to a garage. These two pieces of data demonstrate the quality of service that you can expect from each provider.
Before determining which of these three brands is best, it’s important first to understand what breakdown cover is and what services are included.
Breakdown cover is an insurance-like policy that means you’ll be entitled to support and roadside assistance at no extra cost when you break down.
Breakdown cover comes in multiple levels, with a cheaper ‘basic’ level of cover providing the bare minimum and multiple levels that get more comprehensive as you climb the tiers.
All three breakdown cover providers analysed in this article include roadside assistance as standard. This is where you can get a mechanic to visit your location to fix a broken car at the roadside. As well as this, you can also add other levels of cover to your plan.
One level of cover is home start, where you can access help if your car breaks down at home. You can also get national recovery, which is where your car can be towed to any location in the UK.
Most providers also include onward travel services, where they’ll supply a hire car or accommodation while your car is in the garage so that you can continue your day-to-day life. You can also add European breakdown cover to your policy to provide cover if you ever break down when travelling.
Breakdown cover is not a legal requirement, but not having it can mean that you’ll be paying over the odds for repairs and servicing.
The AA remains the best choice out of these three options, and although it can be more expensive than RAC, it is the better option out of these two.
The reason why the AA is superior is simple; it offers a much better and more reliable service.
Although the Trustpilot scores are close, with only a 0.1 difference in rating, the fact that the AA manages to have a better score with more reviews demonstrates that they’re able to please a large volume of customers.
Plus, the AA has also achieved acclaim from not just customers but award companies as well. Which? Has awarded the AA as the best breakdown cover provider award for multiple years in a row, picking up the accolade in 2021, 2020 and many times in the past too. The AA has been constantly the better choice for years.
It’s clear to see why when looking at the performance statistics. The AA, on average, gets to a broken-down car much faster than RAC, meaning that fewer customers are left waiting and standard on the roadside for a long time.
You can also use another statistic to see how much faster the AA is. When looking at the response time of the AA, nearly 82% of call-outs arrived within an hour. When compared to RAC, only 57.5% of call-outs arrived under this sixty-minute time limit. This means that with RAC, it’ll take more than an hour to arrive nearly half the time.
Despite being the weaker option between the two, RAC isn’t a bad option, and if you’re looking to save money on a comprehensive level, it is the cheaper option.
Although roadside assistance will usually take longer to arrive, when it does get there, they perform equally as well as the AA, with most vehicles getting fixed on the roadside. Plus, when looking at the rate of permanent roadside fixes, which means repairs that don’t require any additional serving, both the AA and RAC have a similar success rate, with around 57.5% of roadside repairs resulting in a permanent fix.
What makes the AA stand out head and shoulders above RAC is that they offer many great additional benefits and add-ons, helping to make your cover more useful. You can add small things like tyre and key replacements, and they also offer their Accident Assist service. This is a service that people can use to help guide them through the legal process after they’ve been involved in a road accident.
When looking at the comparison table, it doesn’t look like there’s much in it between the AA and Green Flag, with them having identical scores on Trustpilot, similar response times, and comparable roadside assistance success rates.
In fact, when you look at the average price of Green Flag, it looks a lot cheaper than the AA, suggesting that it’s better value for money. So, because of this, how come the AA is still considered the better breakdown cover provider of the two?
The answer is experience. The AA has been operating since 1905, making it well over a century old. In comparison, Green Flag first started in the second half of the 20th century and hasn’t been able to build the experience or reputation that the AA has in its shorter lifetime.
Because of their experience, the AA knows what makes a good patrol unit, meaning that their mechanics appear to be more successful when repairing broken-down cars. Although both the AA and Green Flag have similar success rates, this percentage includes both permanent and temporary fixes. When looking at permanent fixes alone, meaning that the car won’t require follow-up work done in the near future, the AA manages to fix cars to this standard nearly 60% of the time.
On the other hand, Green Flag has a much lower percentage, meaning that although your car is often fixed by Green Flag roadside assistance, it will likely need further servicing at a garage. This means that the AA is more reliable and better than Green Flag.
Plus, the different approaches both brands take to breakdown cover mean that you’re not getting an equal experience with both. The AA employs its own exclusive fleet of mechanics and patrol vans. This means that the AA has full control over them and better communication with them.
Green Flag instead partners with independent mechanics to provide breakdown support. Although these machines are fully vetted, because they’re independent, Green Flag has less control over them and how they operate. This means that there is a greater risk of roadside assistance taking longer to arrive, or there is a greater chance of there being communication issues.
The AA and its services are one connected unit, meaning that usually, things run far more smoothly.
This article has already established that the AA reigns as the number one breakdown cover option, outranking both RAC and Green Flag. Despite the AA being the best in terms of the service you get, it can be fairly expensive, especially for its all-inclusive level of coverage.
If you’re looking for an alternative, then the next best option is RAC. Again, this verdict can be a bit confusing when looking at the comparison table because Green Flag outperforms the RAC in virtually all metrics.
However, RAC remains the better choice because of the services you get with a RAC membership, which makes it much more value for money.
To start, when you get a RAC membership, which you get once you take out breakdown cover, you’ll have access to many perks and discounts. This can range from free drinks and coffees at particular merchants, money off fuel, and even cheaper MOTs. These extra money-saving perks make RAC a good option in the long term, provided that you use them.
As well as these perks, RAC is also the only provider out of the three compared here that provides home start services as standard. Most providers only offer roadside assistance as part of their cheapest level of cover. However, RAC also throws in-home assistance, meaning that if your car breaks down on your driveway, you’ll be able to get support straight to your door for no extra cost. Usually, you won’t be able to do this, as roadside assistance is only eligible when you’re more than a quarter-mile away from your home address.
This is a massive benefit for RAC customers, as it means you get better breakdown protection with them than you would when opting for Green Flag.
Plus, as mentioned before, Green Flag has a unique way of operating. Instead of hiring their own mechanics and patrol units, they partner with a network of independent mechanics. Doing this means that Green Flag surrenders some form of control over these mechanics, who can reject call-outs, which may leave you stranded for longer. In addition, with them being independent mechanics, they’ll be more inclined to want to tow your vehicle back to their garage to fix it there, which can increase the amount you have to pay.
For this reason, RAC remains the better choice over Green Flag, although it’s worth remembering that Green Flag is still a great company with a good reputation and shouldn’t be disregarded if you’re looking for a cheaper option.
When all is said and done, it’s important to reiterate that all three breakdown cover providers are good options. However, despite that, it’s clear that the AA maintains its position as the best breakdown cover provider in the UK.
Based on over 28,000 reviews.
Based on over 84,000 reviews.
Based on over 21,000 reviews.
The AA can draw on its years of experience in the motoring industry to provide a fast, reliable, and hassle-free service that you can count on to help you out when you need assistance.
RAC isn’t that far behind, offering great value for money, especially for its lowest level of cover. You may have to wait longer on average with the RAC, but its lack of service speed is made up for with the extra features and perks that you get with a membership.
Coming third, Green Flag is a good service that many customers are happy with, especially as they are the cheapest out of these three. However, with that lower price, you get slightly less reliable cover, as their fleet of independent mechanics may not be able to provide the support that you could need.
With everything considered, the AA takes the prize as the best breakdown cover provider, as long as you can afford its prices.