If you are seeking breakdown cover, you would be forgiven for being a little bit confused by the range of options in terms of the different companies and the various types of breakdown cover available. Everybody seems to be involved nowadays. The old established companies like the AA and the RAC , and even supermarkets like Tesco and Asda. The big three companies are the AA, the RAC and relative newcomer, Green Flag. So does the baby of the trio offer anything new to attract you away from the old established motoring organisation?

History of Green Flag

Green flag was started by two friends in Bradford back in 1971. At the time there was really only a choice between the AA and the RAC on offer. The business started off by servicing the area within 50 miles of Bradford and soon became known as the National Breakdown and Recovery Service.

The company remained as the National Breakdown and Recovery Service under the ownership of National  Car Parks until 1994, when the name was changed to Green Flag as part of a branding exercise. The company is now owned by Direct Line.

The Business Model.

The service was established on a different basis than the AA or RAC. Rather than having patrols out on the road that were directed to the stranded motorist, they decided to develop a network of local mechanics and garages that could attend to breakdowns locally in their area. This had some considerable advantages because it meant that 24 hour call out could be offered with calls for assistance rerouted to the homes of the individual mechanics. The end result being that attendance was faster with the mechanic already being local to the breakdown, and also having greater local knowledge.

The other key advantage that this roadside assistance model had was that not only could roadside repair be offered to the customer, but also recovering the car to the garage should repair not be possible. This was such a great advantage that the AA and the RAC realised that they would quickly need to emulate it by introducing their own recovery services in order to remain competitive.

This model that was conceived by the two friends back in 1971 has proved to be very successful and has made Green Flag the third biggest car breakdown assistance provider behind the big 2. The model of using local agents, garages and mechanics still persists today although is in the process of changing. The network of individual agents, mechanics is shrinking to be replaced by private contractor networks who bid against each other for areas. Green Flag is able to impose quality control and reduce their costs through introducing competition into the market.

Green Flag Today

Green Flag is still a very effective organisation and constantly winning awards for aspects of its service. The average response times are the fastest of the three biggest companies and the rate of roadside repair the highest with on average, 86% of cars being repaired at the roadside. They try to treat customers as individuals and tailor policies to suit individual circumstances. For people that have not been tempted away from the big two companies for fear of an inferior service, it is reassuring to know that the statistics do not support this point of view.