What breakdown cover is right for you?

Whether you drive every day or only occasionally, breakdown cover gives you peace of mind that help is at hand should something go wrong.

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While car breakdown cover is invaluable to have, some cover is automatically included in your vehicle insurance cover. 

So check your policy to make sure you’re not duplicating your insurance before comparing breakdown cover policies in-depth. Let’s look more closely at the breakdown cover options.

By comparing breakdown cover providers, you can find a policy that gives you the level of cover you need at a price you can afford.

What does breakdown cover do for me?

The best breakdown cover is basically an insurance policy that gives you roadside assistance and recovery to a garage if your vehicle breaks down. To keep costs down, some cheaper policies will organise cover but ask you to pay the up-front cost, which you reclaim later with receipts. If you’re organised and want the very cheapest cover, this is a good option.

Most vehicles can be covered, including classic cars, though there are no hard-and-fast rules. It is possible to buy breakdown cover if you’ve already broken down but it will generally cost extra. Most policies can be paid for annually or monthly.

How does car breakdown cover work?

If you’re driving on a road or motorway and you experience car trouble, you can pull over and call your breakdown provider. They then send an engineer who will try to fix your car on the spot.

If they’re unable to fix your car, they can tow you to a garage. You can also get help carrying on with your trip, and assistance if your car breaks down at home, depending on the policy you choose. 

Here is what you need to do when your car breaks down.

How do I compare breakdown cover?

After reading this guide, you can compare breakdown cover policies on this page

What vehicles can you cover?

Most vehicles can be covered under a breakdown policy, including:

    To be eligible your vehicle needs to meet certain specifications, for example weigh no more than 3.5 tonnes and be a maximum of 6.4 metres long including a tow bar.

    If you use a vehicle for work, or you manage a fleet of cars or vans, you can get commercial breakdown cover to protect them.

    Compare breakdown cover

    There are two ways breakdown cover can protect you:

      There are also several levels of breakdown cover, which all offer different benefits. The more you are willing to pay, the better cover you can get. These can include multi-car policies so you have breakdown cover that could cover all the cars in your household, or at the same address.

      But bear in mind that the best type of cover is the cover you don’t need – or need too often. In other words, good vehicle maintenance is important. However a good breakdown policy is hugely reassuring. Let’s look at what’s best for you and your vehicle.

      Roadside assistance

      This is the most basic level of breakdown cover, and means you get help by the side of the road if you break down. Roadside assistance only covers you if you break down a certain distance from your home, usually at least a quarter of a mile.

      If your car cannot be fixed there and then, it will be towed to:

        Not all providers offer to take you to another destination, so check terms and conditions carefully before buying a policy.

        However all breakdown policies include roadside assistance and you can add further cover options to extend your policy at extra cost. Be aware that some policies may have a strict cap on how many times you can call them or the distance your vehicle is towed to. Prioritise, then, what you think are the important features before buying. 

        Vehicle recovery

        This extends the cover offered by roadside assistance by giving you more options of where your vehicle can be towed to.

        You can choose to be returned to a garage of your choice, or any other location in the UK. For example, you can be towed back to your home address even if you break down a long distance away.

        Onward travel

        This covers the cost of continuing your journey if you break down on a trip.

        Most breakdown providers offer three options:

          Home start rescue

          Homs start rescue covers breakdowns that happen at your home, for example, if your car does not start in the morning.

          Home start also means you will be able to call for help if your car breaks down close to your home, for example within a quarter of a mile.

          Home start gives you the same level of cover as roadside assistance, so you can be towed to a garage if the engineer is unable to fix your car at your home.

          Optional cover extras

          Most providers offer additional cover benefits you can add to your policy, including:

            Not all providers offer these options, and it can cost extra to add them to your policy. However most allow you to build a bespoke package that’s right for you.

            What breakdowns are covered?

            You should be able to get help in most situations when you have car trouble. The most common causes of a breakdown include:

              Check the terms and conditions of each policy before you buy cover because there will be some breakdowns you will not be able to claim for.

              What is not covered?

              Every policy will have different exclusions, but most will not cover:

                Read each policy carefully before you choose a provider so you know exactly when you will be covered and what you cannot claim for

                Do you need breakdown cover?

                It is not compulsory, but having a breakdown cover policy means help will be at hand if your car breaks down and you are left stranded by the side of the road.

                Breakdown cover can give you peace of mind no matter your circumstances, but you should seriously consider a policy if:

                  Here is more information on what breakdown cover you need, including how to find the best policy.

                  Do you need European breakdown cover too?

                  This extends your breakdown cover to trips you make in Europe. You might want to consider short-term European breakdown cover. Or a policy that gives you extended cover.

                  You get the same protection and assistance as you would in the UK, as well as extra cover like:

                    You may also be entitled to some legal protection also. Find out more about how European breakdown cover works here

                    You can either add European cover to a standard policy or buy a separate policy for a specific trip. 

                    If you’re unlucky and your car does break down, 2020 Covid-19 behaviour and social distancing protocols may still be in place. So perhaps keep a spare mask or two somewhere in the car, just in case, plus hand wash. Be prepared too for on-the-spot health screenings. It is easy to access foreign travel advice before you leave and while travelling.

                    Lastly, do check that cover includes an English-speaking helpline – invaluable when you’re in an unfamiliar place and feeling anxious.

                    By comparing breakdown cover providers, you can find a policy that gives you the level of cover you need at a price you can afford. Like other insurance policies, it’s always a good idea to regularly check how much you’re being charged annually as some companies can increase prices without good reason.

                    By comparing breakdown cover providers, you can find a policy that gives you the level of cover you need at a price you can afford.