Information for financial businesses on handling and resolving complaints about vehicle breakdown cover.
As a breakdown cover provider, you might get complaints about:
- how a policy was sold or renewed
- delays in help arriving
- issues caused by the patrol mechanic’s actions
We can’t always look into a complaint about roadside assistance. If it is a complaint we can consider, we’ll look at all the facts to decide what’s fair and reasonable in each case.
You may state that you’re exempt from regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under Article 12 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order. If you’re regulated by the FCA for other activities, we may look into whether we think you meet the requirements of the exclusion.
Types of complaint we see
When we receive complaints about breakdown cover, consumers tell us that:
- their policy was automatically renewed when no longer wanted
- their policy wasn’t renewed automatically and they thought it would be
- their premium increased a lot at renewal
- they were charged more for a policy at the roadside than they would’ve been if they had taken it out before their trip
- they ended up with dual cover (two policies at the same time)
- it took too long for the mechanic to arrive
- there were problems with the repair (for example, they got incorrect advice or the mechanic caused a fault)
- the mechanic couldn’t repair the vehicle
- their vehicle was damaged during a recovery
Handling a complaint like this
When you get a complaint about breakdown cover, you should reply to your customer within eight weeks.
If you don’t reply in time, or the customer disagrees with your response, they can complain to us. We’ll check if it’s something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate.
We’d expect you to show us that you’ve investigated the complaint thoroughly and that you have reflected carefully on the circumstances.
Find out more about how to resolve a complaint.
What we look at
As with every case, in reaching a decision about what’s fair and reasonable, we consider:
- the relevant law and regulations
- any regulator’s rules and guidance that applied at the time
- any industry codes of conduct in force at the time
- what we consider was good industry practice at the time
If there are disagreements about the facts, we’ll make our decision about what probably happened using evidence provided by you, your customer and relevant third parties.
Read more about what we look at in specific types of complaint:
We’ll need to look at specific evidence if the policy was:
- renewed when the customer didn’t want or expect it to be
- renewed when the customer asked for it not to be
- not renewed when the customer thought it would be
We’ll need to look at:
- call recordings
- policy documents
- renewal letters
We might also ask you to provide any other information or evidence that we think could be relevant.
We’d look at your underwriting and pricing information to see how the premium was calculated. We’ll check you’ve followed insurance pricing rules and treated the customer fairly.
We’d look at what information you had available at the point of sale. This helps us to see if you could have told the customer about any potential other policies. We’d also look at what each policy covers.
We’d take what you advertise as your usual timeframes into consideration. It can be distressing if help takes longer than this to arrive.
We’ll also look at the individual circumstances of the breakdown. This includes:
- what you told the customer when they called
- if there is any reason they should have been prioritised
- external factors such as the weather (for example, waiting times may be longer during a snow storm)
We’ll focus on what the policy says it provides. We’ll also look at whether the mechanic has:
- acted reasonably
- done what they could within the restrictions of being at the roadside
- been negligent
When looking at complaints like this we’ll need to see all the available evidence. This will include:
- call notes
- breakdown reports – these are usually signed at the roadside
- any other expert engineering evidence – for example, a report from a garage
Putting things right
If we decide you’ve treated the customer unfairly, or have made a mistake, we’ll ask you to put things right. Our general approach is that the customer should be put back in the position they would have been in if the problem hadn’t happened.
For example, we might ask you to cover the customer’s costs if we decide their policy should have been renewed and wasn’t. Or we might ask you to refund them if:
- their policy was renewed when it should have been cancelled
- you sold the customer a new policy when you knew they already had cover
- we think the customer has been overcharged
If we think there was an unreasonable delay in attending the breakdown, we may tell you to pay the customer compensation for the distress or inconvenience they’ve experienced.
We may also ask you to pay compensation if there were any repair issues or the mechanic damaged the vehicle. In these instances, we’d also ask you to cover the cost of any repairs that were required as a result of the mechanic’s actions.
Read more about how we award compensation.
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Business Support Hub
If you want to talk informally about a complaint you've received, you can speak to our Business Support Hub. They can give general information on how we might look at a particular complaint. We also offer guidance on our rules and how we work.