Breaking down on the road can be a nightmare, but getting the best breakdown cover can help get you back on the road. Breakdown cover is not mandatory but acts as a form of insurance, so you can have peace of mind that you’re covered if your car breaks down or refuses to start.
When you compare breakdown cover, there are typically two different types to pick from. The main considerations you’ll have are price and convenience. To find the best breakdown cover for your needs you should run a breakdown cover comparison.
Standard or Automatic car breakdown cover
This is considered to be the most convenient of car breakdown insurance. You pay an upfront annual fee which will cover you for a number of call-outs over the year. If your car breaks down you won’t have to pay any fees at the time as it will already have been paid for.
Automatic cover is offered by most breakdown companies, with big names such as the AA, RAC, Green Flag, and Britannia Rescue leading the market, which can make it easy to compare breakdown cover.
This might not be the best breakdown cover policy for you though if you have an old, run down car which is likely to break down quite a bit over the year.
Pay on call-out vehicle breakdown cover
Like automatic cover you pay an annual fee but the difference comes when you need to make a call-out. The breakdown company will call out a local recovery service rather than send out their own engineers. You then pay the local firm for the repairs and reclaim the money from a breakdown provider.
This isn’t nearly as convenient as Automatic cover but it is generally cheaper. So if cheap breakdown cover is your priority, this could be the best option for you.
Other types – car manufacturer branded cover
Some car manufacturers, such as Honda and Toyota, provide vehicle breakdown cover when you buy one of their cars. It usually covers the vehicle only, with the services provided by a third-party breakdown cover provider or a combination of a third party and the manufacturer’s dealer network.
Personal or car cover
Some policies cover you and some cover your car, so when looking for cheap breakdown cover it pays to decide which option is best for your needs.
Personal breakdown cover
This can provide breakdown cover if you’re the driver or passenger in either your own car or any other vehicle.
However, you’re unlikely to find the cheapest breakdown cover here as personal cover can be expensive and tends to be aimed at people who frequently drive or travel in more than one car.
Car breakdown cover
Here the policy applies to the car, not the driver, meaning that anyone driving the car will be covered – this could be a good option for a family car which is shared by two or more drivers.
You can also typically cover up to three named vehicles on any one policy, which can make it, on breakdown cover comparison tables, a more appealing, if not cheap breakdown cover option.
Levels of car breakdown cover
Levels and features of car breakdown insurance vary greatly between different companies – some of the main features are:
- Roadside assistance - Covers you if you break down anywhere in the UK, typically at least a quarter of a mile away from home.
- Home assistance - This will also cover you if your car breaks down at home or less than a quarter of a mile away.
- Vehicle recovery - If your car can’t be fixed at the roadside, vehicle recovery means it will be towed to a garage or your home.
- Parts and labour cover - Covers the cost of any parts and labour needed to fix your car.
- Onward travel - Onward travel breakdown cover can get you where you want to go, whether it’s a lift home or dropping you off to the destination you were travelling to, as long as it’s in the UK. Onward travel UK breakdown cover can even be more comprehensive, like a courtesy car or even accommodation while your car is being repaired.
- European breakdown cover - While most policies only include breakdown cover for the UK, European cover will come to your aid if you break down elsewhere in Europe. Some standard policies allow you to upgrade to European breakdown cover at a later date if needed.
How to choose the best breakdown cover?
Finding the best breakdown cover for your needs will depend on many different factors. The cheapest breakdown cover may not have all the features you need, so it’s important to take a minute to consider what’s important to you.
Consider how you use the vehicle. A few examples to consider are: how many miles you’ll rack up, whether it will be used for short trips, whether multiple people will be using the vehicle, and whether you need breakdown cover exclusively for driving in the UK.
Always check the terms and conditions to make sure you are getting the level of breakdown insurance you require to save yourself a nasty shock if you break down.