My brother has a motorhome with comprehensive breakdown cover with the RAC. However, when it broke down on the M1, the RAC sent an independent contractor who took one look and said that the vehicle was too long and heavy for him to tow, before departing.
After failed promises by the RAC, my brother had to find and pay a commercial tow firm £340 to take the vehicle to a garage. Ten hours elapsed between his initial call to the RAC and the rescue. Under normal circumstances that’s inconvenient, but his wife has regular seizures, which made the wait positively dangerous.
Complaints about roadside assistance have increased 71% in the last financial year and are rising again, according to Martyn James of complaints-handling website Resolver. The most recent reviews on Trustpilot report waits of up to 12 hours for rescue by the RAC, which has been accused of reducing its staff and increasing premiums since being bought out by a private equity firm in 2011.
Last year, I reported the ordeal of a camper van driver who was stranded on a remote Welsh hillside for more than 30 hours after RAC subcontractors were unable to tow his vehicle. The RAC says that your brother was abandoned because his motor home exceeded the maximum length allowed under his policy and that he should have bought a specialist “Arrival” policy that covers vehicles more than 6.4 metres long. However, it admits that it failed him.
“We should have informed him that his policy didn’t cover large vehicles when he first rang us and let him know he would have to pay for recovery. As a result of this, it led to delays in being able to make his own arrangements.
“As a gesture of goodwill, we’ll be refunding the cost of the tow he paid for. We also offered to upgrade him to our specialist motorhome breakdown service, but instead he has chosen to cancel his policy with a full refund.”
Tedious as small print is, it pays to slog through it when buying cover. Motorists who are left impotent at the roadside are left stranded again when it comes to mediation because, unlike other insurance, roadside assistance was omitted from the Financial Services Act, so customers can’t complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service if their policy doesn’t deliver.
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