Car insurer NFU Mutual has extended its complimentary RAC cover a further three months ahead of a bumper Bank Holiday weekend expected to bring gridlocked roads around the UK.
Latest figures from NFU Mutual and the RAC have revealed a huge 160% increase in the number of breakdowns from May up to the end of July, as the effects of the MOT extension and lockdown take their toll on vehicle health.
The UK’s leading rural insurer is warning drivers holidays may be spoiled by one of the busiest weekends on the road as the summer weather begins to fade, schools near a return, and more countries are added to the quarantine list.
To help ease the worry, NFU Mutual has extended its complimentary offer of national recovery and home RAC breakdown cover, to its new and existing car and light goods vehicle customers, until the end of November. This is in addition to the standard breakdown cover its car insurance customers already receive.
Steve Tucker, car insurance specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “The after-effects of the MOT extension, lockdown and also the start of the recession are now starting to show in the form of deteriorating vehicle health, and we’re concerned about the impact of this on safety and already busy roads.”
The most common breakdown causes for vehicles needing recovery in July were flat batteries, wheel changes, mechanical engine issues, engine management issues for modern computer-led vehicles, and fuel system problems as well as road traffic accidents.
The average recovery distance from home has also shot right up to 108 miles – roughly the equivalent of London to Birmingham – with further increases in distances expected this weekend.
The increasing vehicle health issues have led NFU Mutual to extend its offer to its new and existing car and light goods vehicle customers, who are receiving national recovery and home breakdown cover from the RAC until the end of November, in addition to the standard breakdown cover its car insurance customers already receive.
While the insurer’s offer will ensure that customers enjoying a holiday aren’t left stranded, it is also warning drivers to expect a bank holiday rush and prepare for it, or to consider staying at home and enjoying the surroundings on their doorstep to avoid it altogether.
Steve continued: “With more countries being added to the quarantine list, schools nearly back open, the good weather fading and a tough 2020, we’re expecting a ‘last-chance saloon’ holiday rush weekend with extremely busy, gridlocked UK roads. While it’s very tempting to join the club, think twice about whether you could have more fun on your doorstep without the traffic. If you do want to get away, make sure you’re properly prepared for the busy roads.
“Popular UK spots have been over-capacity all summer with this weekend no exception, and many people have also been going off the beaten track to remote rural or coastal areas and finding themselves stuck there. Technology can be a lifeline but don’t completely rely on your mobile or Sat Nav for directions. Pre-plan your route in case you lose signal in rural areas, which could cause a potentially lethal distraction.”
NFU Mutual has also experienced a 17% increase in serious injury incidents involving cyclists comparing 2019 and 2020 like-for-like until August, due to inexperienced riders taking up cycling across the countryside in lockdown.
Steve continued: “Winding countryside roads are already extremely dangerous and will have increased numbers of cyclists and motorcyclists to look out for this weekend. Make sure you look and look again, pull out from junctions safely, and give cyclists enough space with at least 1.5 metres between you if you’re overtaking. As always, never drive tired. If you feel weary from having to focus for long periods on busy roads, pull over safely for a break and get a coffee if you can.”
Additional research with 2,000 drivers conducted by NFU Mutual in June showed that while 83% of drivers are confident in checking tyre pressure, 54% hadn’t checked it during the last three months. A further 45% of drivers aren’t confident with changing oil, two fifths (40%) aren’t confident in changing a tyre, and 35% aren’t confident in how to jump start their car.
Steve finalised: “Prepare for your weekend with basic checks of oil, tyres and screen wash before you set off. Flat batteries at home are still our biggest issue post-lockdown so a few days before you leave, drive your vehicle for at least 15 minutes to recharge the battery and check all is OK so you can enjoy a well-deserved break.”
Eligible existing and new NFU Mutual customers don’t need to do anything to activate the complimentary/upgraded RAC breakdown cover, now available for a further three months until 30th November for car and light goods vehicle policies. To request a call-out, simply ring the 24/7 helpline on 0800 282 652, select ‘breakdown’ when prompted, and quote the vehicle registration.
Full details can be found by visiting www.nfumutual.co.uk/rac-breakdown