Who is… MAYDAY
MAYDAY is a breakdown product familiar to many leisure vehicle owners, which is offered exclusively to members of the Caravan and Motorhome Club and provided by Green Flag.
Green Flag was founded in 1971 and uses a network of local garages and mechanics, instead of patrolling mechanics, to deliver recovery and repair services, with a view that local mechanics’ expertise will deliver a much swifter service. This is a concept that it still stays true to today.
In 1979, the Caravan and Motorhome Club and Green Flag partnered to launch MAYDAY – UK breakdown cover designed specifically for Club members.
Since then, the service has been modified and enhanced so that it continues to suit the changing needs of motorhomers and campervanners, as well as caravanners.
“MAYDAY is great for people who tour, be it in a motorhome, campervan, caravan or even a trailer tent,” explains Mark Newberry, Commercial Director at Green Flag (pictured).
“The great thing is, whilst the product tailors to the specific needs for when you are touring, it also provides services for when you are doing your day-to-day travelling in your main vehicle, too, so you get your roadside protection in one product for your different vehicles.”
Working with the Club
With many leisure vehicle owners across the UK, MAYDAY is tailored to suit this unique market.
For example, it has no vehicle size, weight or age restrictions.
“Whether you have a brand-new motorhome or a classic VW campervan – our products have no age limits. We cover all cars, caravans and motorhomes, big and small,” confirms Mark.
“We also cover other things like misfuelling as standard so, if you put the wrong fuel in your vehicle, we’ll drain the tank and give you enough fuel to get you going again.
“And, if you get stuck in the mud or snow or even in a flood, you do not need to worry about any additional costs needed to help get you back on your way.”
This can be particularly attractive to those who like to pitch up anytime of the year and in any weather and, as for the misfuelling, that can pay huge dividends if, like many motorhomers, you continually swap from driving a petrol-powered car to a diesel-powered motorhome or campervan.
Exclusively available through the Club, the MAYDAY cover starts from £74 a year for its base Roadside & Recovery level.
It is clearly attractive as Caravan and Motorhome Club members certainly make use of the service – in the 2019 pre-pandemic year, MAYDAY attended 23,000 breakdowns for Club members – that’s over 63 motorhome, campervan or caravan breakdowns every day.
“We have a very special relationship with the Caravan and Motorhome Club. We have been supporting their members for 42 years,” explains Mark.
“In 1979, A gentleman named Jack Armstrong, who was the then director of member services at the Club, developed MAYDAY alongside Ernest Smith of National Breakdown Recovery Club (as Green Flag was known then).
“And, at the start of May 1979, MAYDAY launched and we had our first customer. It was actually Jack! Some say it was his commitment to testing the service that led Jack to request roadside assistance but actually his Audi had just skidded on a muddy country road and he went into a ditch.”
MAYDAY’s roadside service is delivered through a network of garages across the UK.
“Our Smart Network is made up of independent expert providers across the country who work closely with Green Flag’s network controllers every day,” explains Mark.
“All our patrol vehicles are kitted out with the same equipment, whether it is a branded Green Flag van or not, and we have capability required to help members at the roadside and get them back on with their days.”
MAYDAY says that it is this combination of using local garages, which have built up a wealth of knowledge providing leisure vehicle recovery over the last four decades, and the experience gained through its relationship with the Club that means it knows what specific requirements motorhome and campervan owners need from their breakdown service.
That said, a large proportion of breakdowns occur at home, particularly in winter, where MAYDAY sees a higher volume of flat batteries.
“Some people choose not to purchase a product that includes Homecall to later find they are not covered when their vehicle will not start on the drive,” says Mark.
“Make sure that, when looking for cover, you really think about what you would need from a breakdown service,” he advises.
“Lots of companies offer breakdown but not all are the same, so be sure to really understand what you are getting.”
An issue for many motorhomers who are touring is what happens when they break down far from home and their motorhome or campervan cannot be fixed at the roadside.
What happens to their plans and – more importantly – what happens to them and their passengers while their motorhome or campervan is being fixed?
“Both our Premium UK and Premium UK Plus cover levels include our extra-care element. This means, if your motorhome needs to be taken to a garage whilst on your holiday and cannot be fixed locally the same day, we can offer to take you and your family to a single destination, the option of a hire car, pay for alternative transport, for example the train, or even pay for a local bed and breakfast while your vehicle is getting fixed,” explains Mark.
“Cover limits may vary by provider, so do make sure you double-check to ensure you have got the right cover for your needs.”
This last piece of advice is very important, especially if you tour with pets, as not all breakdown policies will cover your pet in these circumstances.
Too large and too heavy
One of the most common complaints from breakdown service users is that a recovery truck arrives, only to find the motorhome is too heavy or too long to be transported.
“Whatever the size and weight of your campervan or motorhome, we can cover it, so long as it’s of standard make,” Mark assures, adding that when a motorhomer reports a breakdown, it is always worth reconfirming the dimensions of the ’van so the operator knows the length and weight of the motorhome.
“Motorhome dimensions are continuing to increase in size as tourers are continuously looking for more from their outfit. This means that, in some cases, a standard flatbed may not be appropriate to support a recovery,” explains Mark.
“MAYDAY has always provided for this by ensuring that our product has no size and weight restrictions, which provides that added reassurance in the unfortunate event that we would need to recover the outfit.
“Our Smart Network also has capability to tow vehicles of all sizes. Where we can, we will always try to complete a full, or at least temporary, fix at the side of the road.
“Traditionally, breakdown providers have relied on the customer describing the issue and then basing this as an assessment of whether they think they may be able to complete the fix. In these circumstances, technicians often will come equipped to fix and not tow and, in the event that a tow is needed, the responder vehicle is not appropriate to recover,” explains Mark.
“With MAYDAY, we recognise that having as much accurate information as possible when the customer calls to notify us that they have broken down allows us to deploy the correct vehicle first time.
“To assist this, Green Flag utilises Smart Symptoms, which enables us to more accurately assess the vehicle fault and be less reliant on the customer’s assessment of the problem. This means we are better placed to understand whether it is more likely that a tow will be required and we are therefore able to send the correct vehicle appropriate for towing.”
Mark also acknowledges that sometimes callers may not know the dimensions of their vehicle.
In this case, it works with the caller and the Smart Network to identify the specification of that particular vehicle.
Another benefit of MAYDAY is that it also offers multi-vehicle cover.
For example, for those who have breakdown cover on their car, they can add their motorhome to the policy for an extra £25.
Or alternatively, they can add personal cover for an extra £32, which means they are also covered in any vehicle either as the driver or just as a passenger. This could be particularly beneficial when using a friend’s motorhome or even when just getting a lift.
It all comes down to knowing what is on offer and what you want from a breakdown service.
“Make sure that you are researching the breakdown market and comparing the products and services being provided to you to ensure you are getting good bang for your buck,” advises Mark.
What to ask motorhome breakdown providers before buying cover
- If you own a newer motorhome or campervan, check whether the base vehicle manufacturer-supplied breakdown cover meets your needs
- You are normally required to have the motorhome serviced and maintained as per the manufacturer’s recommendations
- Always check that the breakdown cover is adequate for all the areas you plan to visit
- Check that the length, weight and height of your motorhome will be covered
- Ask about repatriation for you, your passengers and your pets if your motorhome cannot be fixed at the roadside
- Ask whether there an age limit on vehicles and does your motorhome meet or exceed it?
- Decide if you need a home callout service, which covers you if your motorhome will not start on your drive or in a storage compound
- Think about whether you need extras like MAYDAY’s Enhanced Extra Care, which provides accommodation, car hire or alternative travel expenses (ask what the limitations are)
- Ask whether you are covered in other vehicles, such as your car or a friend’s motorhome, even if you are not driving