The AA is the largest car break down cover provider in the UK, attending over 3.5 million breakdowns every year. They attend a breakdown every 12 seconds and will usually have your car back on the road within 30 minutes of attending to you.
The AA also has the highest proportion of members renewing, some 95% according to the AA themselves, so they must be doing right.
AA Breakdown Recovery & Roadside Assistance Services
The AA have a number of breakdown recovery and roadside assistance options to choose. One you have chosen the breakdown options you want you then select who or what you want the options to cover. The options are as follows
AA Roadside Assistance
This is the AA's basic cover and is provided as standard in all levels of breakdown cover. Road assistance covers you for repairs at roadside or a tow to a local garage if your vehicle can't be fixed. This cover is valid 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
There are two main restrictions to this policy. Firstly, your car must be at least a quarter of a mile (1/4 mile) from your home before the AA will attend. Secondly, if you have chosen to insure the car rather than yourself then the car must be under 10 years of age. If the cover for a car which is older than 10 years of age you will need breakdown cover for older cars.
AA Home Start
The next level of breakdown cover offered by the AA is Home Start. As the name suggests this removes the 1/4 mile restriction imposed by the Roadside Assistance package and the AA will carry out repairs at your home.
Under this policy you can book a time slot with the AA to come and repair your vehicle.
AA National Recovery - AA Relay Cover
The next option is Relay Cover. Under this option you can specify where you want to be towed to rather than being towed to a local garage - this can be anywhere in the mainland UK. This option applies to you, your car and up to 7 passengers. Relay Cover is ideal for holiday makers as it lets you specify your holiday resort as the destination to be towed to in the event the AA cannot repair your car.
AA Breakdown Repair Cover
Breakdown Repair Cover extends the basic roadside package to include the cost of parts and any additional work required at a garage in the event the AA cannot fix your car at the time of the breakdown.
You are allowed five claims under Breakdown Repair Cover with each claim limited to a maximum of £500. Each claim is also subject to a £25 excess and you must specify the number plate of the car at the time you take out the cover.
AA Stay Mobile
The final option from the is called Stay Mobile and is aimed at people who cannot be without some form of transport in the event there car break down. Under this option the AA will provide one of the following in the event your car needs to go into a garage to be repaired.
- A hire car for up to 3 days; or
- The cost of a hotel for one night; or
- The cost of public transport for your return journey
Who is covered with the AA
Once you have selected the options above you then need to decide who is covered by your AA Breakdown Policy. The options are as follows:AA Vehicle Breakdown Cover
Your car is covered by the breakdown policy, regardless of who is driving it at the time it breaks down. The car must however be less than 10 years old.AA Personal Breakdown Cover
The breakdown policy is for you personally and can be used for any car you are either driving or a passenger in, regardless of whether you own it or not.AA Couples Breakdown Cover
The roadside rescue policy is for two people at the same address. Both people effectively have their own personal cover under a couples policy.AA Family Breakdown Cover
AA Family breakdown cover can be taken out for either three or four people. As with couples cover, the individual members of the family must all reside at the same address. In effect, each member of the family has their own personal breakdown cover which can be used for any vehicle they are in, whether driving or a passenger.
The major difference with family breakdown cover is that the number of breakdown allowed before a call out fee is charged is split between all of the family (see disadvantages below).
The disadvantages of AA Breakdown Cover
The number one watch out with the AA is the cost of the breakdown cover. The AA has a reputation for being the most expensive of the breakdown recovery services with good reason as they typically charge significantly more than their competitors. This cost can however be mitigated in a number of ways. Firstly, always buy your breakdown cover online, the AA provides discounts of up to 40% if you sign up in this way. Secondly, compare the various levels of cover provided to ensure you are buying the cover which most closely covers your needs. While a top of the range breakdown package sounds great in theory, in reality the vast majority will never be needed and is just wasted money. Lastly, always compare the AA cover to it's competitors as this will give you an idea of exactly how much more you are paying for the AA name.
Being the largest breakdown recovery service means that the AA claims to have the largest number of patrols in the UK, some 3,000 at last count. Although following it's acquisition by a venture capital firm, there has been some criticism that the number of patrols has been decreased over the last few years.
While the AA will always attend to you if your car breaks down, they will charge a call out fee after the fifth call out (sixth call out if you have joint or family cover). While this can seem like a lot, if you have taken out AA family cover for four people then this works out at just over one breakdown per family member. While this will typically be ok for mum and dad's car, sons and daughters cars tend to be older and more prone to breaking down especially for those in their late teens and early twenties who cannot afford more reliable cars.