Nowadays breakdown assistance can be arranged with an app on your mobile phone which can tell the company you deal with exactly where you are, and keep you in contact with the driver of a fully equipped repair vehicle. The days of trecking to a phone box only to find it vandalised are long over!
The Automobile Association was formed as a mutual help organisation in 1905 to warn fellow motorists of police speed traps. Two years later they offered car insurance, by 1912 they were inspecting hotels, by 1923 they had 650 mororbikes and cars on the road to ssist stranded motorists. By 1950 they had a million members. Now they have the largest fleet of breakdown cars in the UK and help a motorist every nine seconds. They became a PLC in 2014 and are now owned by investment firms Warburg Pincus and Towerbrook Capital Partners.
The Automobile Club of Great Britain was formed back in 1897 to patrol the roads looking for stranded motorists. By 1907 they had Royal approval and became to Royal Automobile Club and five years later they were setting up their first telehone boxes. By 1998 they became a business rather than a mutual, and went through several owners, the latest of which are equity funds CVC partners and Singapore fund GIC. Their patrol vehicles carry over 500 parts and they claim to get 80% of broken down cars repaired on the spot.
Green flag was set up in 1971. Instead of concentrating on roadside assistance they set up a network of local garages that would come out to broken down cars and bring them back to their garages so that they could be fixed properly. They now offer several different levels of cover but, at it's simplest, if your car can't be fixed quickly at the roadside they will take it to the nearest garage. They don't charge extra if you break down or get stuck offroad and they insure the car, not the driver, so it doesn't matter who is driving it at the time. The company is owned by the Direct Line Group, who also own Direct Line Insurance and Churchill.
Emergency Assist Ltd is very new, being formed in 2017 and it is still a very small company compared to it's more established competitors. However they have a network of a claimed 3,000 agents throughout the country who will come out to your car and either fix it on the spot if it is a simple matter or recover it to a nearby garage and their membership fees are lower than the average. They have a range of different service levels you can choose from and, like the other roadside assistance companies, have a 24/7 helpline. The vehicle is covered, and not the driver, and they claim an average attendance time of 60 minutes which is a bit longer than the times claimed by their main competitors. Unlike the bigger companies they are privately owned, so not part of a major group.
Rescuemycar.com is owned by NCI Consultants Ltd which was set up in 2000 and whose principal purpose is the sale of breakdown insurance policies. They are a fairly substantial company with a 2020 turnover of over £5.4 million and are in turn part of Jigsaw Insurance Services PLC. They have a claimed 4000 rescue agencies nationwide and aim to have someone attend to a breakdown in 40 minutes. Unlike the other major breakdown companies they don't charge fixed fees but work out each premium individually, just like a conventional insurer.
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