/ Motoring

Why being loyal drives up the cost of breakdown cover

Our latest research into car breakdown cover has found that renewal prices can leave you out of pocket. Is it right that existing loyal customers are asked to pay more for breakdown cover than new ones?

We have just completed our annual survey of car breakdown cover, comparing companies like the AA, RAC, Green Flag and Britannia Rescue to see if any of them have made the grade as a Which? Recommended Provider.

Our surveys cover waiting times, repairs, customer satisfaction and value for money – it’s this last one that I’m feeling slightly irked about today.

Put simply, I don’t think the costs of breakdown cover are transparent enough. Headline prices look tempting (just £23 for a year’s roadside recovery with Green Flag, for example), but many providers only offer a discount upfront if you agree to automatic, year-on-year renewal.

And your premium’s likely to go up quite a lot after that first year is up, unless you shop around.

Don’t just accept your renewal quote

People regularly contact us complaining that their breakdown renewal premiums are far higher than the previous year’s cover. So we used a real case of someone renewing with the AA.

Our case study had cover for two people and two cars, with roadside assistance, and AA’s ‘relay’ and ‘stay mobile’ cover. The renewal quote they received was £205 – £65 more than the £140 they would pay if they took out a new policy with the AA online. This quote was also £100 more than they would have paid with Aviva, and £85 more than Britannia Rescue.

So our case study called the AA and pointed out the discrepancy between the renewal quote for loyal customers and the price charged for new ones. After a short delay, the AA offered to cut the price to £135 – not quite as low as elsewhere, but a hefty discount nonetheless.

Shop around for the best deal

This problem of inflated renewal premiums isn’t confined to breakdown cover, of course. I recently saved money on my home insurance renewal by entering my details into a comparison website. I ended up insured by the same company, but saved £40 in the process – not bad for 10 minutes work.

So, always shop around and consider checking cashback sites, such as Topcashback or Quidco, for their latest deals.

Has your renewal price for breakdown cover gone through the roof? Let us know how much you were quoted, and whether you were able to make a saving after a bit of haggling.

SandyB says:
20 May 2017

I have now come to the conclusion that car insurance is just one big con. Been with Direct Line for years and paying over the odds on my premiums. Had a no fault accident back in December and stupidly allowed my own insurance co. to put it right. Big big mistake, should gone with the other parties insurance, as Direct Line took my car and ruined it even more. Still waiting now for it to be put right. It’s been a totally stressful nightmare and Direct Line don’t seem to give a damn!

David Strachan says:
18 August 2017

I have been with the RAC since 1964 and have just received my RAC renewal notice and it has increased from £192.00 to £252.99. £50.00 of this is due to the RAC now having the policy arranged by RAC Financial Services. who may charge a fee for providing these services to you. They state in the leaflet that ” you will not pay an additional amount for your cover but how much you pay us to arrange this “. There is a breakdown on the payment schedule that Arrangement and administration fee for your Roadside & at Home Rescue is £50.00. If the RAC is making this change for their benefit then why have they passed the charge onto their customer?
David S


That is rather a lot.

Have you tried phoning them for a better price? … I was going to renew my insurance with you but it has gone up rather a lot ….. I can get it cheaper….. I have been with you 53 years….

keith Clark says:
26 August 2017

Been with Greenflag for four years for one small car and one driver last years price was £158.77 no call out last year but renewal quote is £216.00 On phoning them they reduced it by half to £113 but no longer trust them so an changing


It might be worth considering opting for cover as part of car insurance, Keith. Cover may be different and you don’t have any say in the breakdown company they subcontract to, but it seems a cheap option. I have not had a breakdown since 1989 and hate paying for cover, but cannot afford to be without it in case something major happens.

Vince Crosby says:
23 December 2017

Don’t buy Recover cover In august I moved from the RAC to Recover cover Breakdown cover purely on cost. I the last week I purchased a new car which gave free 12 months breakdown cover with the RAC. When I cancelled the policy with Recover cover. I was told that I had to pay £6.99 just to end the policy. has anyone else had a similar experience

Colin Williams says:
9 March 2018

Colin W. I have just received my RAC renewal and was horrified. Up from £166.98 last year to £217.99 this. It now includes an “Arrangement Fee”. What is that for? In recent years it has gone up 2014 – £73.56, ’15 – £92.45, ’16 – 132.04, ’17 – £166.98. Even adjusting for the higher R.P.I inflation figure from each year to this year it would be from 2014 £83.37, ’15 – £100, ’16 – £141, ’17 – £171. I will see what I can reduce it to by complaining! I made the mistake a few years back of using their auto renewal direct debit. What happened to trust?

Castle says:
9 March 2018

Have you thought of moving to the AA for example; and you can get cashback as well.


Hi ‘Castle’
Just been on to RAC and reduced it to just under £100. – that’s with a very minor cover adjustment. They probably thought that they could afford that from the profit made in recent years. My sister reduced her AA Breakdown Insurance from over £200 to about £130 but it has crept back up again. Next fight will be with home insurance and car insurance!