How to choose the right cover

Think about which type of breakdown policy you need by choosing between:

  • Person cover, which covers you in any car

  • Vehicle cover, which covers your car

You then need to choose which cover options you want, which include:

  • Roadside assistance

  • Vehicle recovery

  • Onward travel

  • Home assistance

  • Optional policy extras

Should you choose person or vehicle cover?

There are two main ways you can be covered:

  • Person cover: This means you will be covered in any car you travel in, whether you are driving or a passenger.

  • Vehicle cover: This means only your vehicle will be covered, so you, or anyone driving, can only call out for assistance when the covered car breaks down.

To work out which option is right for you think about:

  • Do you drive more than one vehicle?

  • Are you regularly a passenger in another car, for example a lift share?

  • If you are, does the other driver have a breakdown policy?

If you only ever drive your own car, a vehicle cover policy is the cheaper option.

However, if you share driving, or sometimes drive another car, a person cover policy will cover you whenever you travel.

If you have more than one car in your household, you can get breakdown cover that protects several vehicles at once. You can compare breakdown cover for two cars here.

Roadside assistance

This is the most basic level of breakdown cover, and means your car will be fixed at the roadside, or towed to the nearest garage if fixing it is not possible.

This type of policy could be the best option if you do not drive long distances, or if you only drive every now and again. You will not be covered if your car breaks down at home, or within a certain distance, for example a quarter of a mile.

If you are on a tight budget, roadside assistance will give you cover at the cheapest price.

Roadside assistance is included in any breakdown policy, but if you want more cover you can choose to add further options.

Roadside assistance pros and cons

  • Help if you break down on the road

  • Can be towed to nearest garage

  • Cheapest level of cover

  • No cover close to home

  • You cannot choose the garage

  • No cover for onward travel

Vehicle recovery

This cover will tow you, your vehicle, and a set number of passengers, to your chosen destination if you break down.

Most providers can tow you anywhere in the UK, but some may set a mileage limit so check the terms and conditions carefully.

This type of cover could be useful if you travel long distances from home because it means your car can be recovered and towed back to your preferred garage if it cannot be fixed by the roadside.

Most breakdown providers offer an extended cover option you can add to vehicle recovery called onward travel cover.

Vehicle recovery pros and cons

  • Help getting to your destination

  • Help if you break down on the road

  • Towed to a garage of your choice

  • More expensive than roadside

  • No cover close to home

  • No hotel or car hire cover

Onward travel cover

This gives you more options to complete your journey in the event of a breakdown, including:

  • A courtesy car

  • Other alternative transport, e.g. trains

  • Hotel accommodation

You may be able to add this to your vehicle recovery policy for an extra cost, but check first because not all providers offer this.

Home start

This covers any breakdown that occurs at home, for example if your car does not start in the morning.

Home start is usually offered as an add on to a policy, or as a feature of a comprehensive breakdown package that includes all the available benefits.

This type of cover is useful if you own an unreliable car that might not start, or if you live far away from a garage.

Home start pros and cons

  • Breakdown help at home

  • Cover if you are close to home

  • Book a time for help to arrive

  • More expensive than roadside

  • Not usually offered as standard

  • May need to add vehicle recovery

Optional extras

Most providers offer extra cover options you can add to your policy to give you even more protection, including:

Think about whether any of these extras are worth adding to your policy. For example, only add European breakdown cover if you plan to drive abroad.

Not all of these extras are offered by every provider, so shop around to find those that do if you want to add them to your policy.

You can find out more about the features of each type of breakdown cover here.

How to find the best policy

When you know exactly what policy is right for you and your vehicle, you should compare breakdown cover policies to find one that offers everything you need.

When you compare policies, check how long each takes to reach you if you break down. This should be published on their website, but you can call and ask them if not. Most aim to reach you within 45 minutes.

Check your car insurance policy, because you may already have breakdown cover included if you have comprehensive insurance.

If you do, look at what cover you are getting and make sure it includes the benefits you need. If it does not, contact your insurer to see if you can upgrade your cover, or look for a standalone policy.