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How to buy breakdown cover

Best breakdown cover providers

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Best breakdown cover providers

The best car breakdown providers often reach you in under an hour, and do such a good job that you'll recommend them to friends and family.

We have all said ‘it won’t happen to me’, but of the 59,000 motorists we spoke to in last year's Which? Car Survey, nearly one-in-five had to call for help because their car broke down in the previous year.

But who do you call? It's not just the AA, RAC and Green Flag who provide breakdown cover. Based on feedback from thousands of people, we’ve compared the service and customer satisfaction levels of 26 breakdown providers to find out which ones truly offer the best level of service.

93%One breakdown cover provider reached 93% of breakdowns in under an hour. The worst only reached 63% in the same time.

Best third-party breakdown cover providers

If you’ve signed up with a bespoke breakdown provider like the AA or RAC, you have cover from what is called a third-party breakdown provider. Simply put, these are companies that provide cover for almost any car and usually charge you annually.

The alternative is to have cover provided directly from the manufacturer of your car – see below for our table of the best and worst carmaker cover providers. We've rated 13 third-party breakdown cover companies, including Saga, the AA, RAC, LV, Britannia and Green Flag. Four have been awarded Which? Recommended Provider status (and may not include the three you’re thinking of).

Best and worst third-party cover
Best and worst third-party cover
Provider WRP Customer score Arrived within an hour Total Score
Subscriber only content Which? Recommended badge 86% 87%
Subscriber only content Which? Recommended badge 82% 83%
Subscriber only content Which? Recommended badge 86% 75%
Subscriber only content Which? Recommended badge 81% 75%
Subscriber only content   86% 71%
Subscriber only content   82% 68%
Subscriber only content   80% 65%
Subscriber only content   79% 64%
Subscriber only content   72% 60%
Subscriber only content   80% 57%
Subscriber only content   80% 56%
Subscriber only content   71% 49%
Subscriber only content   66% 44%

Table notes
All ratings based on responses from the Which? Car Survey (Dec 2015 to March 2016), 8,592 of which indicated they had called out a breakdown service in the twelve months prior to answering the survey.

Best carmaker breakdown cover providers

Carmaker-branded cover comes free when you buy a new car, for a set period of time. The carmakers don’t actually provide the cover - that will be supplied by a third-party provider such as the AA or Allianz.

As an example, if you’ve bought a new Ford you will get ‘Ford Assist’ breakdown cover. But as AA is the provider, should your car conk out, it will be an AA van that turns up to help you out.

We've rated 13 carmaker-branded cover companies, including Skoda Roadside Assistance, Toyota Roadside Assistance and VW Assistance. Three were good enough to be Which? Recommended Providers. The table below also tells you who actually provides the breakdown service.

Best and worst carmaker cover
Best and worst carmaker cover
Provider WRP Customer score Arrived within an hour Total Score
Subscriber only content Which? Recommended badge 93% 87%
Subscriber only content Which? Recommended badge 88% 84%
Subscriber only content Which? Recommended badge 85% 81%
Subscriber only content   87% 77%
Subscriber only content   84% 69%
Subscriber only content   84% 68%
Subscriber only content   85% 61%
Subscriber only content   84% 58%
Subscriber only content   83% 57%
Subscriber only content   73% 54%
Subscriber only content   85% 44%
Subscriber only content   84% 44%
Subscriber only content   73% 44%

Table notes
All ratings based on responses from the Which? Car Survey (Dec 2015 to March 2016), 8,592 of which indicated they had called out a breakdown service in the twelve months prior to answering the survey.

Buy the best breakdown cover

Can you just go for the most basic level of breakdown cover? Do you even need cover at all – why not just sign up on the spot if you do happen to break down?

We found that going for the wrong level of breakdown cover, or going without it completely, can leave you hundreds of pounds worse off than if you’d had a policy to begin with. To avoid unnecessary costs, read our guide to buying the best breakdown cover.