What Breakdown Cover Do We Need When Towing

green-flag-mayday

Many of us would not consider travelling long distances without adequate breakdown cover, and that is, surely, even more relevant when we are towing.

The two main caravanning organisations; the Caravan Club and Camping & Caravanning Club both have their own in house, breakdown services available. The Caravan Club has its Mayday recovery package, provided by Green flag, whilst the Camping & Caravanning Club has its own Arrival breakdown cover, provided by the RAC, but how do they compare, and what are the key differences between these and the ‘standard’ caravan recovery packages provided by Green Flag, the RAC and AA?

The Caravan Club Mayday Recovery

This service is exclusively for members of the Caravan Club, and does appear to be extremely comprehensive. Features of this service include:

  • No size or weight restrictions apply and any combination of car and caravan / camper is covered.
  • Dual Recover is available on two out of three of the policy types. This means that, if you break down on the way to your holdiay destination, and your vehicle can’t be fixed, they will take you to your holiday destination and back home again
  • No additional charges for removal from soft or boggy ground
  • Misfuelling cover has, recently, been added, as standard, so, if you should put the wrong fuel in your vehicle (as I, myself, did a couple of months back) they will drain the tank and refill it with enough fuel to get you going again. This is a very worthwhile addition to the cover, as paying for this separately wont leave you with too much change from a couple of hundred pounds!
  • Rapid Response Pledge. If a technician fails to reach you within 1 hour, you can claim back £10. This is particularly good when you bear in mind their policy of sending out technicians to specific jobs, rather than having a fleet of vehicles scattered around the country and simply sending the nearest one to you.
  • Cover is provided for any driver in your vehicle.
  • Cover is provided 24/7, 365 days a year, regardless of whether or not you are towing. If you are, and your caravan / camper cannot be towed, then it will still be recovered on a low loader (top two levels of cover only).
  • There is an option to purchase additional services / cover, if you require. these include; Home Call, Personal Cover (you and your partner in any car), Additional Vehicle cover and Extra Care (which includes such benefits as accommodation expenses, free car recovery, and a chauffeur if the main / only driver is incapacitated).

Camping & Caravanning Club Arrival

As you would expect, Arrival is, also, pretty comprehensive, being designed to directly compete with the Mayday product. Again, you must be a member of the Camping & Caravanning Club, in order to take advantage of it. You can either sign up to the Club, and then take out the cover, or you can sign up, via the RAC web site, who will, then, include Club membership in the policy fee. The key features of this service are;

  • Arrival doesn’t specify ‘no size or weight restrictions’ as Mayday does, however, it does provide “cover for large units over 7.6 metres long or 2.3 metres in width”, which is, effectively, the same thing.
  • ‘Arrival Return’, like Mayday Dual Recover, ensures your holiday is not ruined before it starts. If your vehicle breaks down en route to your holiday destination, and they cannot repair it at the roadside, or a local garage, they will take you, your car and your caravan to the site and back home again.
  • Follow On Recovery is an additional feature, whereby, the technician will deliver your car to a designated garage for repair, and will then take your caravan to a separate destination, up to 75 miles away.
  • Re – Unite is another service provided, so that, if you are away from your camp site when your car breaks down, the RAC will take you back to the site, within a 75 mile radius, to collect your caravan, before taking you home.
  • The policy covers you for any UK camp site, at any time. If the caravan cannot be towed, then, like Mayday, it will be recovered on a flat bed truck. Optional European cover is, also, available.
  • Personal breakdown cover is also included, so you will be covered as a driver or passenger in any vehicle, whether towing or not.

Green Flag Breakdown Recovery

Green Flag provide the Mayday breakdown service for the Caravan club, but they also provide their own caravan cover. This ‘standard’ cover is part of their normal breakdown service, and is not, specifically, customised for the caravan user. Green Flag, currently, provide five different levels of service. For the purposes of this, we will look at their fourth level, and most popular, product, Recovery Plus (as the top product is identical, but with European cover included) The key features of Recovery Plus are as follows:

  • You are covered for any caravan / camper, up to a weight of 3.5 tonnes, a length of 7 metres (including A frame), height of 3 metres and width of 2.55 metres.
  • The policy includes onward travel, so if the car can’t be fixed there and then, they will arrange for a hire car, alternative transport, or accommodation. If you have to collect your car, at a later time / date, they will pay for a standard single rail fair to allow you to do so. They also provide a messaging service, to advise friends and family of the situation.
  • There are no additional charges for any specialist equipment required.
  • Misfuelling cover is, also, included, as standard.
  • Recovery is 24/7, 365 days of the year and is national. If you breakdown, they will take you to any single place in the UK (not multiple destinations for car and caravan / camper) however, if you break down at home, they will take you anywhere within a 20 mile radius, and this is further reduced to 10 miles, for flat or damaged tyres.
  • If recovery is outside normal working hours, and the vehicle is recovered to home, they will collect your vehicle on the following morning, and deliver it to the garage.
  • Personal cover is available, as an option. This covers you as the driver or passenger of any car provided the vehicle is under 16 years old. It also covers the vehicle registered under the policy, even if you are not in the car.

RAC Breakdown Recovery

The RAC appear to work on a much more modular system. Whilst this does give much greater flexibility in choosing exactly which services are best for you, selecting all of the main ones really seems to ramp the price up, unfortunately. In order to give a direct comparison, we are assuming that a couple of the ‘extras’ have been added on, including ‘Recovery’, ‘At Home Rescue’ and ‘Onward Travel’. If this is the case, then the features of this cover include:

  • Recovery of yourself, your car / caravan and up to 8 passengers to any single chosen destination, of your choice, in the UK. The key word there is ‘single’. They will recover you to one destination only, either home, or a garage, but not both. If you are recovered to a garage, then they will pay a taxi fare, of up to 20 miles, as long as a receipt is provided in support of that claim.
  • You are covered for any caravan / camper, up to a weight of 3.5 tonnes, a length of 7 metres (including A frame), height of 3 metres and width of 2.55 metres.
  • You can chose between covering the vehicle, in which case it is covered for any driver, or covering the person, in which case they are covered for any vehicle they are in. A personal policy can be single, joint, or family, for up to 5 family members.
  • As with all policies, this is a 24/7, 365 day a year cover.
  • At Home Rescue is, also, included, if that option is selected.
  • Note: Misfuelling cover is not included within any RAC breakdown cover.
  • The policy includes onward travel, again, if selected, so if the car can’t be fixed there and then, they will arrange for a hire car, alternative transport, or accommodation.
  • As already mentioned, the RAC system is very modular, and there are a number of bolt on additions. These include European Rescue (48 countries in continental Europe), Key Replace (up to £1,500 of cover), Battery Rescue (up to £600) and Garage Parts and Labour (up to £750).

One thing to watch, with RAC cover, is that, if you simply take out the totally standard ‘Roadside Rescue’ policy, they will attempt to fix your vehicle at the roadside, however, if they are unable to , you are only covered for a tow of up to 10 miles, to the nearest garage or place of safety. You are not covered for distances of any more than that.

AA Breakdown Cover

The last of the major players, the AA is the only organisation not linked to either the Caravan Club or the Camping & Caravanning Club. Consequently they do not have a dedicated caravan / camper policy, however, their overall level of cover is provided within the main vehicle breakdown cover, in exactly the same way as it is for the RAC. In fact, the level of cover is almost identical, as you would, probably, expect, so not really worth repeating here. Again, be very careful of the basic level of cover, which will only recover your vehicle a very short distance, to a local garage, unless you select the National Recovery option. The one area where the AA does differ, from both the RAC and Green Flag is in the size of units they will cover. They are restricted to 3.5 tonnes, like the others, however, there is no length or height restriction, only a width limit of 2.3 metres (as opposed to 2.55 metres for the RAC and Green Flag).

Summary

OK, so it appears we have two main options here. We either go for a dedicated caravan / camper policy through one of the main caravanning organisations (membership is obligatory, unfortunately, in order to do so) or we rely on our existing vehicle breakdown recovery policy, where applicable. So, based on the above, what are the main differences?

Well. It would appear that there are one or two significant benefits of going with a ‘specific’ policy. The first, and most obvious, of these is that a vehicle break down need not ruin our holiday. Both Mayday and Arrival will take you on to your camp site, and bring you home again. Of course, there is, always, the issue of travelling around, whilst on your holiday. It’s all well and good getting there, and setting up, but, if you are on a remote site, then you are going to need a vehicle. In this scenario, you can either hire a car, or, potentially, have your vehicle taken to a local garage, for repair. This might be the better option, if it can be repaired quickly, as, not only will you have your vehicle available for part of your holiday, but, also, for the return journey.

The second key advantage is that dedicated policies provide dual destination drops. This means that you can drop your car off at your chosen garage, and then travel on to home, with your caravan / camper, so that it does not have to be left at the garage with the car, which is, often, not the most secure option.

Thirdly, the Mayday and Arrival polices cover you for a breakdown of both your car and caravan, as standard. For most, if not all, ‘standard’ polices, the caravan is only covered insofar as it will be towed back for you, along with your car, if the car breaks down. If it is the caravan, itself, that is damaged, then you will not be recovered, nor will the caravan be repaired at the road side, unfortunately*.

The fourth advantage, which, admittedly, will not affect everyone, is that there are no size or weight restrictions on the dedicated policies, whereas standard vehicle breakdown cover only allows for units of 3.5 tonnes maximum weight, and a size of 7m long x 2.55m wide x 3m high.

The level of cover provided by both organisations is very similar. It is, perhaps, just worth mentioning that only Green Flag include misfuelling cover, as standard. The RAC and AA do not (The AA, for example, currently, charge £222 for members to use this service, if required, so having it included could be a real money saver). Because Green Flag provide the cover for Mayday, this does give it one clear advantage over Arrival, but, to be fair, everything else is pretty much like for like on each policy.

How Much Does It All Cost?

Cost is, of course, extremely subjective, and will depend on many things, plus, of course, not all cover will be exactly like for like. To give an idea of the sort of costs involved, and the level of cover provided, take a look at the table below (click on the table to enlarge):Breakdown Cover Comparison

Conclusion

Whilst it is always important to identify the cover most suited to our own, individual, needs, on the face of it, the best value and most comprehensive cover does seem to be that provided through Green Flag. They appear to offer the same basic level of cover as main competitors; the AA and RAC, with the added bonus of misfuelling cover, and all for a significantly lower cost. In fact, it is less than 50% of the cost of the other two, with the RAC coming out as the most expensive. This comparison continues to the Mayday and Arrival policies, with Mayday working out at exactly half the cost of Arrival**, based on the price comparison performed here, plus, being provided by Green Flag, Mayday has the added bonus of including misfuelling cover, as well.

Of course, it should be born in mind, as well, that, in order to take out either Mayday or Arrival cover, we must, first, take out membership of the Caravan club or Camping & Caravanning Club, respectively, with the additional costs involved. Interestingly, though, based on the costs reviewed here, it would appear that the cost of joining the Caravan Club (£48, currently) plus the cost of their Premium UK cover is, actually £1 less than taking out the RAC’s standard vehicle cover, on it’s own, so the conclusion here seems to be; if you want the cheapest policy, with a basic level of caravan / camper cover, then Green flag is the way to go. If you want the very best, all singing, all dancing cover, then Mayday would appear to be the best option, even if that means joining the Caravan Club in order to do so.

* – Since writing this article, both Green Flag and the AA have begun to recover caravans, even if it is the caravan that has broken down, provided it is attached to the car at the time the breakdown occurs.

** – The cost of the RAC Arrival policy is based on the inclusion of Onward Travel cover (in order to compare like with like). You could, of course, argue, that onward travel is unnecessary, as you, effectively have that already, if the policy includes transport to the site. If this option were not selected, the total Arrival cost would be reduced by £41, but, still £60 more than Mayday.

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About Alan Young

MD and owner of the Woodhurst Group, including Praxis Accountancy Limited and Blue Sky Recreation Limited. Also Commercial Director of The Sky visor Group
This entry was posted in News And Information and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to What Breakdown Cover Do We Need When Towing

  1. Stephen N says:

    These detail s regarding the A frame being included in the 7 meter length are incorrect because if it included the A frame almost every twin axle caravan and single axle like my 7.46 meter Sterling produced in the Uk would be untowable on a standard licence with out breaking the law. The 7 meter rule disregards the A frame from the measurement

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    • Alan Young says:

      They aren’t, actually incorrect Stephen. You are confusing them with the legal length restrictions, for a towing vehicle weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, in which case, you would be right. The RAC etc restrictions mentioned here are simply the cut offs for the the basic recovery policies (which I have spoken to them about, and they have confirmed to me that these are the figures they use (ie, excluding the A frame)). They aren’t intended to represent the legal limits, which, as you, rightly say, do, indeed, exclude the A frame.

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  2. C.west says:

    RAC left us on the hard shoulder for almost 3 hours on an unlit part of the M11. Till almost midnight.they passed the job onto another company.w hen the guy turned up he said he had only just been given the job,and he had been sitting on the services for 1/2 hour having a cuppa. Will not be re-newing our membership again. All it was a tyre went,we are camping and caravaning members.and was towing a folding caravan.10 mins job.
    Felt and still feel ill after breathing all that crap off the motorway.

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  3. Mike steele says:

    When I contacted mayday they said you would not be recovered if your outfit was involved in an accident. That would be down to your own car insurance . Arrival said you would be covered for onward travel. Therefore stayed with more expensive arrivals

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    • Alan Young says:

      I suspect Arrival have mislead you, there, Mike. Arrival do, indeed, cover you for onward travel, but it is a £42 optional extra, and it ONLY covers you if you break down. It doesn’t cover you in the event of an accident. That will always come down to your insurance company. Mayday told you the correct position. Arrival have got your business by misleading you. Think I’ll stick with Mayday.

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