How we can help if you have a complaint about vehicle breakdown cover (roadside assistance).
What is vehicle breakdown cover?
Breakdown cover (sometimes called ‘roadside assistance’) is normally provided as an insurance policy and provides help if your vehicle breaks down.
You can get different levels of cover, including:
- call-outs and roadside repairs
- vehicle recovery to a garage
- a hire car to continue your journey
- overnight hotel accommodation
Breakdown cover doesn’t include picking up vehicles after road traffic accidents. This is the responsibility of motor insurers or repairers.
You can also get cover for travelling in Europe. This is usually, but not always, for an extra cost. European cover includes bringing the vehicle back to the UK in some circumstances.
We can look into most complaints about:
- onward travel
- repairs at a garage
- overnight accommodation
- incidents in Europe
Complaints we can’t help with
We can’t look into every complaint we get because of the way breakdown cover is regulated. Some businesses may carry out unregulated services and we can only look complaints about services that are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
This mainly affects complaints about:
- policy pricing
- roadside repairs
- vehicle recovery
We can’t look into complaints about these issues if you’re with AA, RAC or some other smaller providers.
To find out if we’re able to look at your complaint, you can check by entering the name of the business into FCA’s financial services register which is available on their website. Once you enter the name of the business, you can find the services they provide that we look into complaints about.
Types of complaint we see
People complain about breakdown cover for lots of different reasons. You might complain if:
- your policy was automatically renewed when no longer wanted
- your policy wasn’t renewed automatically and you thought it would be
- your premium increased a lot at renewal
- you were charged more for a policy at the roadside than you would’ve been if you bought it before your trip
- you 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, you got incorrect advice or the mechanic caused a fault)
- the mechanic couldn’t repair the vehicle
- your vehicle was damaged during a recovery
How to complain
Talk to your insurer first so that they have the chance to put things right. They need to give you their final response within eight weeks. If you’re unhappy with their response, or if they don’t respond, let us know.
Bringing a complaint to us is straightforward and won’t cost you anything. We’ll check your complaint is something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate.
Find out more about how to complain.
What we look at
To help us consider a complaint fairly, we’ll ask you to provide some information. We’ll make our decision about what happened using evidence provided by you, your insurer and any relevant third parties. In reaching a decision, we consider:
- the relevant law
- any regulations that applied at the time
- any industry codes of conduct in force at the time
- the terms and conditions of the policy
Read more about what we consider for each type of complaint:
We’ll need to look at specific evidence if your policy was:
- renewed when you didn’t want or expect it to be
- renewed when you asked for it not to be
- not renewed when you 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.
If you’re being charged more than you expected, we’ll look at the provider’s underwriting and pricing information. This will show us how they calculated the premium. We’ll also check the insurance pricing rules to make sure the provider has followed them and treated you fairly.
Breakdown cover is often included as an extra benefit with vehicle insurance policies, packaged bank accounts and when purchasing a car. If you already have breakdown cover or don’t realise and then take out another policy, this can lead to having dual cover.
If this happens, we’ll look at what information the insurer or seller had available to them at the point of sale. This helps us to see if they could have told you about any potential other policies. We’ll also look at what each policy covers.
We know it can be distressing if help takes a long time to arrive.
Many insurers say they’ll arrive within a certain timeframe. We’ll take this into account when investigating your complaint.
We’ll also look at the individual circumstances of the breakdown. This includes:
- what you were told when you called the provider
- if there is any reason you should have been prioritised
- external factors such as the weather (for example, waiting times may be longer if you call 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 think your provider made a mistake or treated you unfairly, we’ll tell them to put things right. This usually means that they need to put you back into the position you’d have been in if the problem hadn’t happened.
For example, we might ask your provider to cover your costs if we decide that your policy should have been renewed and wasn’t. We might ask your provider to refund you if:
- your policy was renewed when it should have been cancelled
- your provider sold you a new policy when they knew you already had cover
- we think you’ve been overcharged
If we think there was an unreasonable delay in attending the breakdown, we may tell your provider to pay you compensation for the distress or inconvenience you’ve experienced.
We may also ask your provider to pay compensation if they there were any repair issues or the mechanic damaged the vehicle. In these instances, we’d also ask the provider 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.
Consumer not told she already has breakdown cover
Motor Insurance Breakdown cover
Consumer’s car was damaged by breakdown cover patrol mechanic
Breakdown cover Motor Insurance
Consumer was sold a car battery he didn’t need
Breakdown cover Motor Insurance
Consumer complains about the wait for a mechanic to arrive when his car broke down
Vehicle breakdown cover Motor Insurance
Information for financial businesses
You can read more information about breakdown cover in the business section of our website. This includes technical details and information to help you resolve complaints.