RAC breakdown cover review

  • 4/5 vehicle fixed at roadside

  • Breakdown cover for as little as £9.50 per month

  • Free car 20-point health check when you become a member

RAC logo - Royal Automobile Club

Who is the RAC (Royal Automobile Club)?

The RAC has been trading since 1897, now boasting that they claim to have ‘the world’s most advanced computer systems to deal with calls for roadside assistance’.

While they have branched out into other products such as home and car insurance, RAC’s main focus is on breakdowns, with breakdown cover policies covering everything from motorbikes to European road trips.

Breakdown insurance packages – what they have to offer

The RAC offers three core levels of breakdown cover (see prices below):

  • Standard
  • Advanced (plus 1 free month)
  • Ultimate (plus 3 free months)

They claim that they fix most broken down vehicles at the side of the road  (4 out of 5 on average) within an average time of 30 minutes, and they will help you even if you can’t get the car to start at home - this is included as standard.

For the 20% that they can’t fix, the RAC will get you a taxi so you can still get to where you need to go (standard). If you have either the Advanced or Ultimate breakdown cover policy, you will be given a hire car, which will probably give you more convenience and freedom.

They will also explain the problem to a garage with their breakdown report. With the Advanced and Ultimate policies, you also get priority access to garages that have been approved by the RAC.

They also offer home start breakdown cover, promising to tow you up to 10 miles to a garage should your vehicle break down within a quarter-of-a-mile away from your home address.

If you’d like to learn more about breakdown cover and the different kinds of policies available in the UK, read our Complete Guide to Breakdown Cover here.

RAC breakdown cover

An umbrella term for all of their breakdown cover policies, RAC’s UK breakdown cover can be adjusted to suit your needs. The cost starts from just £9.50 per month, but it can change depending on your policy, any add-ons and how you pay (monthly or annually).

There are two main types of breakdown cover:

  • Vehicle cover: Whoever is driving, the vehicle is always covered.
  • Personal cover: This covers you if you are the driver or passenger.

Here are some of the things you can expect from RAC’s breakdown cover, but remember, it all depends on your policy - so be sure you know what you are/aren’t covered for:

  • Roadside assistance and home rescue with every policy – 4/5 vehicles with RAC emergency breakdown cover are fixed roadside and within 30 minutes.
  • Garage support if it can’t be fixed at roadside: 10-mile tow to a garage or other place included in cover (the garage will also be given a report of the problems with your vehicle).
  • FREE alternative transport or 'onward travel' with Advanced and Unlimited policies.
  • Key replacement cover as add-on – Also get up to £1500 of cover on vehicle or house keys, new lock fittings and resetting alarms and immobilisers when you add key replace to your policy.
  • Other add-on options include: Battery replacement (up to £600) and tyre replacement (£150 each).
  • 20-mile taxi cost covered (from the garage to choice of destination up to 20 miles).
  • Unlimited callouts with Advanced and Ultimate policies.

With RAC’s breakdown cover, you get the following for free:

  • Legal helpline: Get legal help and advice regarding driving, property, employment, etc.
  • Accident care: This is there to help you get back to driving as soon as possible if you’re involved in an accident.
  • Discounts available on car maintenance, travel and trips.

European Breakdown Cover

RAC’s European breakdown cover isnot included as standard in your breakdown cover. You can either add European Rescue to your current breakdown cover policy or you can buy it as a separate policy (where you can have single-trip or annual/multi-trip cover).

Comprehensive European Breakdown Cover (from £7)

  • Unlimited assistance if you break down at the side of the road when travelling in Europe.
  • £150 covered for any costs relating to garage labour.
  • Accommodation expenses worth £500 OR £1,500 to help you carry on with your trip.
  • As long as your vehicle isn't damaged beyond repair, the RAC will pay to get it back to the UK (up to the market value of your car).
  • If you need assistance at the side of the road 48 hours before your departure date, the RAC will cover you up to £300.
  • Helpline with English-speaking support (24-hour).

Comprehensive PLUS European Breakdown Cover (from £9)

  • Unlimited assistance if you break down at the side of the road when travelling in Europe.
  • Up to £1,000 covered for any costs relating to garage labour.
  • Accommodation expenses worth £1,200 AND up to £3,000 to help you carry on with your trip.
  • As long as your vehicle isn't damaged beyond repair, the RAC will pay to get it back to the UK if it's not possible to fix it.
  • If you need assistance at the side of the road 7 days before your departure date, you will be covered for unlimited roadside assistance.
  • If you miss your pre-booked train or ferry due to breaking down, they will cover the cost of replacement tickets,
  • Helpline with English-speaking support (24-hour).
 Motorbike Breakdown Cover

RAC’s Motorbike Breakdown Cover is almost identical to that offered for cars and can be personalised to meet your needs. They provide cover for motorcycles over 49cc (UK) and if you’re travelling in Europe, over 125cc.

They offer Standard, Advanced and Ultimate policies starting from £9.50, depending on the level of coverage you need, and they’re currently offering 1 month free with the Advanced package, and 3 months free with the Ultimate (after you’ve paid 12 months consecutively).

  • Roadside assistance – 4 out of 5 vehicles are fixed at the roadside within roughly 30 minutes.
  • Home rescue is included in all packages.
  • Upgrade so that you and your vehicle can be towed anywhere in the UK in the event of a breakdown (not included with Standard policy).
  • Key Replace – Up to £1500 of cover is provided on vehicle or house key replacements, new lock fittings and resetting alarms and immobilisers when you add this to your policy.
  • Personal cover – This protects you as a driver and/or passenger.
  • Vehicle cover - This protects your motorcycle, regardless of who's riding it.

Breakdown Cover for Business Vehicles

RAC’s Business Breakdown Cover allows you to cover any specified driver of your business vehicles.

  • Cover available for cars, vans, taxis, motorcycles, minibuses and trucks.
  • Fixed prices for up to 2 years – Get a fixed price on a policy for 2 years, avoiding potential annual renewal increases.
  • Van-for-van replacement – RAC is the only provider who can offer you a van-for-van or car-for-car replacement with their onward travel policy.
  • Online vehicle management for free – Manage MOTs, services, repairs and more with access to RAC’s Business Club, fleet management tools and member benefits.
  • Free accident care

Family and Multi-Car Breakdown Cover

RAC’s Family and Multi-car Breakdown Cover provides cover for anybody who is named on a family breakdown cover policy, or anybody who drives a vehicle registered to on a multi-car breakdown cover policy.

Family Breakdown Cover

  • Provide comprehensive breakdown cover to family members, whether they are a driver or passenger.
  • Name up to 5 people on a family breakdown cover policy.
  • Save money on purchasing several individual policies.

Multi-Car Breakdown Cover

  • Get breakdown cover for up to 3 vehicles registered to one address under a single policy.
  • Save time and money on taking out several individual policies.
  • Perfect if you have more than one vehicle registered to your address.

Other Benefits

Members of RAC are provided with a range of benefits in the way of services and discounts, both vehicle-related and otherwise.

Services

  • Accident care – Whether you were at fault or not, RAC can come to your assistance if you have an accident.
  • Legal advice – Free, 24/7 legal advice on anything from writing a will to buying a house.
  • Key return – Attach your free RAC keyfob to your keys and somebody can send them straight back to you by posting them into a post box.

Discounts

  • Car maintenance discounts – Save up to 50% on car maintenance with registered garages.
  • Days out – Save as much as 54% on days out at some of the UK’s most popular attractions.
  • Travel extras – Save up to 25% on travel extras from UK breaks to airport parking and travel insurance.
  • Member prize draw – Be entered into a monthly draw to win trips around the world.

 

How much does the RAC UK breakdown cover cost?

NOTE: The prices of the following policies can vary, depending on your specific requirements, the vehicle you are covering and any add-ons you may need.

Standard

Roadside breakdown cover and home rescue

Mechanic sent out to fix your vehicle at roadside or home.

Tow your car to a local garage or other destination if it can’t be fixed (10 miles).

If your car needs to stay in the garage, you get the cost of 20 miles taxi ride back.

Monthly (flexible option): £9.50

Annual policy usually works out much cheaper. 

Advanced (+ 1 free month)

Roadside and home rescue.

Tow your car to anywhere in the UK if it can’t be fixed.

2 days alternative transport while your vehicle is being repaired.

Unlimited callouts + priority support from RAC-approved garages.

Monthly: £15 (annual option also available) 

Ultimate (+ 3 free months)

Same cover as Advanced, but even more benefits and support.

Monthly: £19 (annual policy available)

RAC breakdown cover pros and cons

Pros

  • Around 80% of callouts made by RAC customers are fixed at the side of the road in under an hour.
  • RAC Key Return – helps to recover your lost car keys.
  • Van-for-van replacements – the only UK emergency breakdown cover provider to offer this service for onward travel policy holders.
  • Member benefits – additional services and discounts for members.
  • 20 mile taxi fare covered after breakdown included on all levels of cover.
  • Free months with Advanced and Ultimate breakdown cover policies, as well as no limit on the number of callouts.
  • If you need to take your car to the garage, the RAC provides you with a detailed report about the problems, so you don’t have to worry about explaining the problem to the mechanic.
  • MyRAC app allows you to view your policy information, plan routes, look at traffic, set reminders (such as when your next service is due, etc) and much more. The app has been given 4.5 stars, with nearly 9,000 ratings.

Cons

  • Some reviews on Trustpilot mention long waiting times, but generally, RAC breakdown cover has a high rating of 4.3 stars (77% of around 65,000 reviews rate the services as either excellent or great). 

Whenever you’re choosing a breakdown cover provider or other financial service, always do your research and read a range of reviews to make an informed decision.

Breakdown cover provider app

RAC have a smartphone app, available on both Android and Apple devices, which offers a range of services.

Pros

  • Route planner - use the app to plan your route.
  • Real-time roadworks and traffic congestion alerts.
  • Connect to an RAC employee with the touch of a button in the event of a breakdown.
  • Manage your account and view the details of your policy.
  • Expense calculator - calculate travel expenses with a mileage calculator.
  • Get reminders when your MOT, service or tax is due.
  • The app uses your phone's GPS service to pinpoint exactly where you are.

Cons

  • Users have suggested that the app can sometimes be temperamental.
  • Some users have stated that the app is slow, from signing in to everyday use.
  • Sometimes traffic information can be unreliable.
  • Users have experienced some trouble when logging into the app.
  • It cannot track your recovery service like on competing apps.
  • Users have suggested that adverts on the app can get in the way.

Remember, however, that the RAC will have a team that is constantly working on updating and improving their app, so don’t hesitate to give it a go.

RAC also have another app, RAC Telematics, which can be used to track vehicle and driver performance if you have had telematics installed into your vehicle by RAC.

 

FAQs

When will I receive my RAC membership card?

RAC members should receive their membership card in the post within 7-10 days of taking out their policy. After this, a new one will not be issued until you have been a member long enough to change loyalty tier or request a new one due to loss or damage.

When does my RAC breakdown cover start?

If you have not already broken down, your RAC breakdown cover will begin as soon as your payment is accepted. However, for the first 24 hours, you may only be offered roadside assistance.

How much does breakdown cover cost with RAC?

The cost of your breakdown cover will depend on your individual circumstances, as well as the policy and any add-ons that you have chosen.

How do I cancel my RAC breakdown cover?

Your right to cancel will have been given to you within your terms of membership. For more information on how to cancel, contact RAC on 0330 159 0739.

Where will I find my RAC breakdown membership number?

Your membership number can be found on your membership card, your RAC welcome pack and on any official documentation/emails sent to you by RAC, as well as the MyRAC app.

You can also call RAC on 0330 159 0740, who will have your membership number to hand.

Can I renew my RAC breakdown cover online?

If your policy is set to continue into the next year then you do not need to contact RAC - they will send you information regarding your renewal around one month before it is due to expire and they will automatically renew it if they don’t hear from you. If you don't want to renew your policy, you will need to call the RAC on 0330 159 0739.

What is the RAC loyalty scheme?

RAC loyalty scheme is in place to reward their most loyal members. If you have been a member of RAC for 5 years you will have a silver membership card, while 15 years of loyalty will get you a black membership card. These give you access to a range of benefits and offers provided by the RAC.

Can I get short-term breakdown cover with RAC?

No. The RAC do not offer a short-term option on breakdown cover, unless it is European Breakdown Cover. You can, however, pay on a monthly basis, so if you just want cover for one month, then you can buy this - make sure you check if you are to pay on a continuous basis - if you are, then you’ll need to cancel before the next month automatically renews (if you don’t need it).

Is there an age restriction on vehicles for RAC breakdown cover?

No – RAC will cover vehicles of all ages. However, they only offer their Battery Replace add-on to vehicles less than 15 years old or with mileage lower than 150K.

Do the RAC price match?

The RAC do not price match, but insist that they are constantly reviewing their prices to ensure that they provide the best possible value for money in the market.

 

For more information, be sure to visit their official website.

Customer Experience

Customer reviews from certified sites like Trustpilot give a fairly good representation of what you can expect from your breakdown provider.

Out of nearly 65,000 breakdown cover reviews, RAC average 4.3/5 stars, which Trustpilot labels as ‘excellent’. 

Recent reviews include positive experiences of motorway recovery, speedy response rates, polite and helpful mechanics and helpful over-the-phone communication with workers.

There are a few negative reviews (19% of 65,000 reviews rate it as poor or bad) with some users claiming that they have been left waiting for hours for recovery due to the lack of availability of recovery vehicles.

It is important to remember that all breakdown cover providers will encounter issues in some cases, so it is better to look at a wide range of reviews and ratings, rather than focussing on one or two individual ones.

Ratings (out of 5):

Trustpilot: 4.3

Reviews.co.uk: 1.51

SmartMoneyPeople: 3.58

Reviewcentre : 2

Average: 2.75/5

 

Expert Ratings

Defaqto

Defaqto gives 5-star ratings for their Advanced and Ultimate policies, as well as their response time and much more.

AutoExpress

AutoExpress ranked RAC as the fourth best breakdown provider in the UK for 2020, coming behind other popular providers such as LV=Britannia Rescue, GreenFlag and Gem Motoring Assist.

 

What happens if I break down? – How to contact RAC

If you break down and are covered by the RAC, you can report your breakdown online (quickest option) or inform them of your breakdown via the app if you are already a member.

If you are not a member, you can still contact the RAC for help. Call them on 0330 159 8743 - they say that you should not buy cover online after breaking down, otherwise they will not be able to come and help you.

If you’re still undecided after reading this RAC breakdown cover review, take a look at our other breakdown cover reviews here.

 

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