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Travel, Holiday & Breakdown Insurance

Breakdown and Recovery Insurance. We advise that you take out suitable European breakdown cover with roadside assistance and travel insurance that would also cover any medical expenses resulting from an accident.

If you do not already have breakdown and recovery insurance or if your existing insurance does not cover you outside of your country we suggest you take advantage of this offer that covers you with more than one roadside service in both the UK and EU.

As a welcome bonus Swinton are offering free UK and EU breakdown and recovery cover to clients for the first three months.

For breakdown, recovery and travel insurance from Swinton please click here.

It is also extremely important that you:-

  • Check with your insurance company that you are insured to drive abroad
  • Check whether you need a Green Card / Visa for the country you are visiting
  • Check whether you need an International Driving Permit
  • Familiarise yourself with the driving laws of the countries that you are visiting
  • Service your vehicle before leaving the UK and at the very least check your oil and water
  • Check that your vehicle complies with the vehicle requirements of the countries that you will be visiting

For Travel and Holiday Insurance only recommends Columbus Travel Insurance. Their insurance may cost one or two pounds more than other insurers but they have the highest level of cover and the lowest compulsory excess co-payments in event of a claim and this makes Columbus Holiday Insurance the best value for money. You are offered the choice of adding travel insurance when booking your ferry ticket at but if you prefer to buy directly from Columbus please click here.


More Information About Breakdown & Roadside Assistance

Family with broken down car

When trouble comes knocking, who are you gonna call: the cheapest, the biggest or would you pick from the rest?

Breakdown cover is one of those things you buy but hope you never have to use. At one time, once you’d decided to get some, the choice was simple: AA, or RAC? They’re still the most popular, counting 22 million members between them.

Next, Green Flag got going and, most lately, a gaggle of competitors have joined in, each offering to rescue you when things get grim. You can even buy a get-your-home package from your local supermarket. Prices for many are temptingly how: how ds only £25 for a year’s cover sound?

There are bargains out there and you may just choose whver’s cheapest. Stop and think, though. When your car conks out, you’ll not only want someone to come quickly, you’ll also want them to be a seasoned motor- fixer, well trained and polite.

So, which to choose – do you go for :

The biggest?

The Automobile Association has 15 million members and 3000 patrols. If you ring them, you’re guaranteed one of their own staff in a fully equipped van. They’ve answered 100 million call-outs to date and staff are well trained: they’re even taught how to explain what’s wrong with member’s cars in plain English. Response time is typically 40 minutes, and, 16 times out of 20, they’ll have you on your way within minutes. But the organisation that once billed itself ‘the fourth emergency service’ (after the police, fire and ambulance) has cut its fleet of patrols by 500 in the last three years and has now moved to reduce its number of night patrols by asking some rescue staff to work ‘on call’ between 2am and 6am. To get a quote for Eurpean breakdown and roadside assistance from The AA please click here.

The one with more patrols per member?

The RAC has 1650 patrols for its 7 million members, so it has more per member than any rival. It claims an identical 40-minute typical response and also that its patrols fix 16 out of 20 breakdowns at the roadside. And, like the AA, if you break down, you are promised a visit from a RAC man or woman, rather than someone from a local garage. The AA and RAC offer similar service packages and compete fiercely on price.

The cheap one?

Green Flag costs less to join than the AA or RAC. It has 5 million members, many signed up via breakdown insurance policies bought from the likes of Tesco or Saga. It dsn’t operate its own fleet of crew and vehicles but there are  160 trucks in Green Flag’s colours, owned and run independently. It has 550 garages on its books, who can muster 4400 recovery vehicles. How quickly will they arrive? Well, if it takes longer than an hour, they give you £10. Green Flag says it keeps its money for 17 out of 20 calls, but won’t say how many tenners it hands over in a year.  Let’s put that another way: you’ve a 3 in 20 chance of waiting over an hour. Green Flag has a tie-in with over 20 top insurers. So if you insure your car with Sainsbury’s and buy breakdown cover as an extra, Green Flag provides the service.

The rest?

There are over a dozen different services at varying prices. Most motor insurance now offers breakdown cover as an add-on, often at low prices. Read the small print before buying. Green Flag works for over 20 of the biggest insurers including Zurich, Sheila’s Wheels and Sainsbury’s.

Should I stick with the basic service, or lay out extra for the cover-all, do-everything package?

When basic cover with the AA costs £34 for a year but with all-the-frills it works out at £172, it’s a mighty question. But, thanks to the AA’s and RAC’s four-out-of-five roadside fixes, we reckon that the basic cover is enough. If you rely on your car utterly for work and play, and regularly criss-cross the country in it, the full recovery service is a fair bet. Otherwise, forget it.

Will they always turn up?

Broadly speaking, yes. But use them too often and you’ll wear out your welcome. The AA writes to you after the fourth call in a year to warn that the free service runs out after the fifth visit. From then on, they’ll come only if you pay an extra £95 per visit. The others work to similar limits, although some insurance-based schemes stop after only four  call-outs. Green Flag, however, says it puts no limit on call-outs.

If a recurring fault makes you break down twice, most will also refuse to come out if the second call is within four weeks of the first.

When are they busiest?

The first week of January. Thousands return home after the New Year break, braving the depths of winter.

Will they change a wheel after a puncture? Hungarian Vizsla George with his owner

Yes. If you’ve the correct spare, they’ll do it there and then.

Supposing I put the wrong sort of fuel in my car, by mistake?

The AA and RAC will tow you to a garage that can drain the tank and flush the engine. But you’ll have to pay the going rate for the repairs.

Can I call them for help after an accident?

Yes. They will attend, but you should expect a bill if they tow your car. You can reclaim the cost from your motor insurer.

What’s the strangest breakdown story you know?

George the dog (pictured, right) takes the biscuit here. His owner called the AA because her car would not start. The patrol  man noticed that the car’s immobiliser chip, built into its keyfob, was missing. And the key had doggy teeth marks in its plastic top. Had George, a Hungarian Vizsla, swallowed the chip? The AA man tried an experiment:  he put the dog into the car. Sure enough, with George aboard, the engine started. Once nature had ‘taken its course’, immobiliser chip and car were reunited. And George? Last we’d heard, he was none the worse for his adventure.


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