Breaking down on the road can be a nightmare, but the right cover can help get you back on your way
When you compare car breakdown cover, there are typically three different types to pick from:
Automatic breakdown cover or pay on call-out
With a standard automatic service, you choose the level of cover you need and pay an annual fee. Call-outs are then free of charge, though often limited to around four or five a year. Automatic cover is offered by most breakdown companies, with big names such as the AA, RAC, Green Flag, and Britannia Rescue leading the market.
Pay on call-out
Often considerably cheaper, this type of cover means 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 breakdown provider.
Car maker branded cover
Some car manufacturers, such as Honda and Toyota, provide 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 you compare breakdown cover it pays to decide which option is best for your needs.
Personal breakdown cover
This can provide cover if you’re the driver or passenger in either your own car or any other vehicle. 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.
Levels of breakdown cover
Levels and features of breakdown cover vary greatly between different companies – some of the main features:
- Roadside assistance – Covers breakdowns 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 – Anything from a lift home or to your destination before breaking down to something more comprehensive, like a courtesy car or even accommodation while you car is being repaired.
- European breakdown cover – Cover if your breakdown in Europe. Some standard policies allow you to upgrade to European breakdown cover at a later date if needed/