If you use your car or van to earn a living, or you manage a fleet of vehicles, keeping them on the road is essential. Here is everything you need to know about commercial breakdown cover.
Commercial breakdown cover is a “must have” if you rely on a vehicle or fleet of vehicles to keep your business going. Especially if they cover long distances in difficult conditions with different drivers at the wheel.
Your business might be tied to delivery guarantees. So if your vehicle isn’t working for its living you may be losing money. From crew cabs to bikes, vans and minibuses, it’s sensible to give your business 24/7 support.
Your business may also have a broad spread of different vehicles it relies on: every business is different. And it’s easy to over-pay for the right policy or under-pay and get the wrong one.
Let’s start with the basics. Just like car breakdown cover, commercial breakdown cover gives you a helpline to call for emergency help, 365 days a year. The more vehicles you protect, the cheaper it should be.
To get the best deal, you’ll need to narrow down your priorities:
Do you want cover for one van – or several other vehicles (perhaps including motorbikes) too?
How much cover do you want? Typically, a roadside policy will offer you basic protection but you may want nationwide cover
Vehicles like minibuses, taxis and delivery vehicles may have their own specialist cover – so always be specific when seeking quotes.
Do you need cover beyond 3.5 tonnes (“light van”) or not?
What about replacement vehicle cover?
Do you need European breakdown protection?
Would you prefer to pay monthly, spreading the cost?
It helps to know how policies are sold online, or on the high street. Once you know how they’re described or categorised you’re in a better position to buy the right one.
As with most areas of vehicle insurance, there are a number of options to choose from. A fleet policy, for example, will cover many vehicles on the same policy. Generally, the more vehicles covered, the bigger the per-vehicle discount.
Other policies can provide cover on a pay-as-you go arrangement. A standard admin fee is paid and you’re invoiced for every breakdown, though the precise arrangements can vary.
Remember, it’s down to you to make sure staff know breakdown protocols so they get the support they need with a minimum of stress.
Your staff need to know where the breakdown card is in the vehicle and how it's authorised by the breakdown provider.
If your staff can’t reliably produce a card then the breakdown company normally reserves the right to refuse the service.
When comparing commercial breakdown policies, be sure to also check whether there are any limits on the number of call-outs that can be made per year or any restrictions on the height or size of the van. As always, it pays to read the small print carefully.
You will need to consider whether you need breakdown cover for light vans or heavier trucks – or a combination of both. There’s plenty of overlap between both types of rescue services.
Common to both types are:
This is where your vehicle is normally repaired at the roadside. If it can’t be repaired at the roadside it will be towed to a place of the driver’s choice, within reason.
If your broken vehicle can’t be repaired at the roadside it will be taken to any UK destination chosen by a driver for no extra charge.
If a vehicle has been involved in an accident and needs lifting or winching this will be covered, depending on the tariff you’ve chosen.
There may be circumstances when your company or driver needs to hire a car after a breakdown. In this case:
The vehicle is typically offered for a minimum of 48 hours from the time of collection but details and terms will depend on your policy
Your driver will likely need to produce a copy of their driving licence and cash or credit card as a fuel deposit before a car is authorised
There may also be endorsement limits – so the cleaner the driving licence, the better
Just like car breakdown protection, commercial breakdown cover also has potential for policy upgrades.
For example, you may want to consider lost or stolen key cover as well as miss-fuelling protection – though these may be part of your standard van insurance. So beware of policy duplication that may waste your money.
Most policies are capable of including a wide mix of different commercial vehicles and, with a bit of sifting, you can find a policy that’s robust enough for all your breakdown eventualities – at the most competitive price.