Review: GEM Motoring Assist breakdown cover

Digby Bodenham By Digby Bodenham

Key policy features

  • New customers can save up to £30 when bought before June 30, 2016
  • Includes comprehensive roadside and home assistance for cars, motorbikes, classic vehicles, motorhomes, vans, caravans and trailers
  • Free accident management service that will liaise with insurers if you have a crash
  • Mobile app that shows mechanic exactly where you have broken down
  • Recommended by Which? and won Auto Express award for 'best breakdown cover provider'

GEM Motoring Assist launched in 1932 as a club to reduce the growing number of accidents on Britain’s roads. Although it still sells itself as a members’ organisation – it’s full name is the Guild of Experienced Motorists – it is open to most drivers and operates like many other breakdown cover providers.

However, it has a few specialist benefits. Gem has a technical adviser on hand to personally help members with motoring queries, it publishes a quarterly magazine and has special members’ discounts.

It offers two comprehensive policies, Recovery Extra and Recovery Reclaim, and is highly rated by industry bodies and customers. It also ranked highly in our list of the best breakdown cover providers.

GEM has a fleet of more than 5,000 vehicles, its average callout time is 41 minutes and it has recently invested in a new breakdown recovery operations centre.

Click on the link to get a quote from GEM. At the moment it is offering 12 months cover for the price of 10 if the policy is bought before March 31, 2016.

Overview of cover provided by GEM Motoring Assist

GEM’s Recovery Extra and Recovery Reclaim policies offer very similar levels of cover, the main difference is Reclaim operates on a pay and claim basis. That means you will pay for the repair or recovery yourself and reclaim the appropriate costs from GEM afterwards.

With Reclaim you can call GEM’s rescue centre or make your own arrangements to use a specialist garage if you want to use a preferred mechanic. The cost is cheaper than an annual Extra policy, but obviously if you do break down you’ll have to stump up some cash and then go through the process of claiming it back.

For more on pay and claim read our guide to breakdown insurance here.

GEM’s 24/7 cover includes roadside and home assistance for cars, motorbikes, classic vehicles, motorhomes, vans, caravans and trailers. If a mechanic can’t repair your vehicle after an hour at the side of the road or at home it will be taken to a local garage. And if a local garage isn’t available GEM will take you, the vehicle and up to seven passengers to any UK destination of your choice.

If you break down more than 25 miles from home and repairs can’t be carried out that day GEM will pay for onward travel or overnight accommodation up to the value of £200.

GEM’s cover is comparable to some rival’s most comprehensive policies and it even covers some things other providers don’t, such as running out of fuel, flat batteries, punctured tyres and driver illness. It also has unlimited callouts.

There are some limits that appear small compared with other providers. It has a £70 cap on its cover for both home assistance and keys (if you lose your keys or lock them in your vehicle). The RAC offers up to £1,000 for key replacement. However, GEM says the current average claim for home assistance is £54.17, so it is possible you won’t hit the limits.

GEM only offers personal cover, which some providers charge extra for. That means its members are covered as a driver or passenger in any vehicle, even in hired or borrowed cars. It can cover multiple drivers in one household for an additional cost.

Its breakdown policies also include access to its accident management service. It’s not a substitute for car insurance but if you do have an accident you can call for advice and the service will arrange the recovery and deal with all of the admin, including liaising with insurers.

Another useful feature is its mobile app. Along with giving you traffic updates and a reminder when you are due to renew, it can also share your GPS location with its rescue centre when you break down, so a mechanic will know exactly where to find you.

Although GEM’s cover is for the UK, it has teamed up with travel insurance specialist P J Hayman to offer Euro Plus, which it describes as discounted European breakdown cover. It covers European roadside assistance, recovery and repatriation for you, your car and all your passengers. GEM members get a 10% discount and there is an additional 10% discount if they buy online.

How much does GEM Motoring Assist cover cost?

GEM’s Recovery Extra policy usually starts at £99.74 a year for one person and Recovery Reclaim is £73.09.

It costs more to add people within your household onto a policy. Recovery Extra for four people starts at £179.80 and the equivalent Reclaim policy is £136.06.

Until January 31, 2016 GEM is offering 12 months of cover for the price of 10. So at the moment Extra and Recovery policies start at £83.11 and £60.90 respectively.

You can get a quote and buy a policy on GEM’s website.

What do GEM customer reviews say?

GEM Motoring Assist scores well on customer review sites. It has an average of 3.9 stars out of 5 from 138 reviews on and 75% of people who reviewed it would recommend it.

On it has 4.7 stars out of 5 from 20 ratings and 80% of people would recommend it.

What do GEM reviews from the experts say?

It has been voted number one for overall service six years in a row by Auto Express readers and this year it was named by the magazine as the ‘best breakdown cover provider’.

It has been awarded recommended provider status by Which? and independent financial services review site Defaqto gives its level of cover 5 out of 5. That means it is “an excellent product with a comprehensive range of features and benefits”.

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