Car Breakdown Cover

For the low price that car breakdown cover can cost, along with the peace of mind it can provide, not having it simply isn't worth the risk.

Company Summary Average Response Roadside
Fix Rate
Next Step
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

RAC have amongst the best average response times and roadside fix rates in the industry. Cover prices are competitive and you can save money by purchasing online too.

37 minutes 82% Buy Now

From £34.99
per year

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Emergency Assist already has over 200,000 members and an AVRO approved network of over 4,000 vehicles. The ‘Saver’ cover they offer is currently one of the cheapest on the market.

41 minutes 73% Buy Now

From £19.00
per year

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Relatively new compared to their rivals, using over 4,000 independent specialists rather than their own network. For this reason, you won't have seen see their brand on the road.

40 minutes 70% Buy Now

From £17.90
per year

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Unlike most providers, GEM only offers personal-based cover. This can be much cheaper for those using multiple vehicles, although often expensive if only using one.

40 minutes Unknown Buy Now

From £59.54
per year

Car Breakdown Cover: What You Need to Know

A car is more than just a way to get from point A to point B.

Today, many of us rely on our vehicles to help us accomplish crucial things, like getting to work on time, or making sure that we can pick the kids up from school. If your car suddenly breaks down, you could be left wondering how you can continue with life as normal.

The good news is that car breakdown cover exists to help you get back on track. Breakdown cover is a kind of insurance that protects consumers when their vehicle breaks down. For instance, if your car battery suddenly dies or you damage your tyres, breakdown cover gives you the assistance you need to get out of a tight spot.

Although breakdown cover can be purchased as an individual form of insurance, most insurers will include breakdown cover as part of a car insurance policy - as an optional extra. It's worth comparing your car insurance options if you're looking for breakdown cover.

Who Needs Breakdown Cover?

If you drive a vehicle often, then you'll need breakdown cover.

Falling victim to the horrors of a broken-down car is something that no-one wants to handle. If you're miles away from wherever you need to be, it can be overwhelming, and even scary at times. With breakdown cover, you know that there's someone on the other end of the phone who is available to help - whenever you need it.

Breakdown cover even means that you can get back on the road, or at least to a safe space when you're broken down in the middle of the night.

Without breakdown cover, there's always a risk that you could end up stranded the next time something unexpected happens with your vehicle. After all, as much as we love our cars, we know that they can often face issues ranging from flat tires, to engine problems.

Having breakdown cover in place can remove much of the stress associated with sudden car issues.

How to Get Breakdown Cover

Getting breakdown cover for your vehicle is easier than you might think. Many insurance providers offer breakdown cover, and you can even get it from third-party providers. Sometimes, breakdown cover is offered as part of a bank account deal.

Some car manufacturers also include free cover against breaking down when you purchase a new vehicle. This coverage usually only lasts for a limited time. However, it may be possible to extend your cover when you receive an annual service for your vehicle.

Some companies offer different kinds of coverage too. For instance, you might find organisations that can provide something called "pay and claim" cover. This is cheaper than most annual memberships. Generally, you'll need to pay a lower annual fee, combined with any payments for call outs which you can later claim cashback for.

It's easy to assume that you'll never need anyone to help you out with a breakdown - particularly if you have a brand-new car. However, the truth is that accidents can happen ay any time. You never know when you might encounter something on the road that leads to a flat tyre.

Vehicle or Personal Breakdown Cover: Your Options

As mentioned above, there are different kinds of breakdown cover available depending on the type of support you need. For instance, the most common choice you'll need to make will be between vehicle or personal protection. With private breakdown cover, you'll be insured in any vehicle, provided that it meets with the standards outlined in your policy. You'll also be able to claim whether you were driving the car, or in it as a passenger, depending on the provider.

On the other hand, if you choose vehicle breakdown cover, then you will only be able to claim for the specific vehicle that's on your policy. There are some providers that will allow you to cover multiple cars on the same system.

Personal cover is generally a good choice if you find that you frequently use other people's cars, or you have more than one car that you use regularly. However, if you're not present in a vehicle when it breaks down, then it won't be cover. Additionally, the other person that might drive certain cars will need coverage too.

Vehicle cover is usually the best option for people who only drive a single vehicle. You don't have as much coverage as you would if you chose a personal coverage policy, but it should be enough given your circumstances. You'll also be able to protect a family car regardless of who might be driving it. However, you won't be able to access your coverage if you use another car.

Another decision that you will need to make is between traditional or insurance-style coverage. With regular coverage, you pay a specific amount on an annual policy, and you're given absolute coverage for everything that your plan entails. However, if you choose insurance-style strategies, then you'll be paying for things like your callouts and recoveries and claiming the money back from your provider at a later stage.

What Are the Different Levels of Car Breakdown Cover?

After you choose vehicle or personal coverage for your car, you'll be able to decide on the kind of breakdown coverage you need. There are various levels available, which all aim to support certain types of driver. It's a good idea to think carefully about your needs on the road when you're choosing the coverage that's right for you.

Here are some of the kinds of car breakdown cover that you'll be able to choose from, as well as the pros and cons that are associated with each.

Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance will typically be offered as a standard part of any breakdown insurance policy. Whether it's described as roadside assistance or recovery, it gives you some level of support when you break down out of nowhere. When you see roadside assistance offered as a basic level of coverage, you'll usually be getting the basic level of support. The positives include assistance, regardless of how far away you are from home, and the option to be towed to a destination of your choice if it's not possible to get your car up and running again.

If you break down at home, you may not be covered with roadside assistance, so make sure that you check those details on your policy. Additionally, if your vehicle isn't fixed at the roadside, there may be a limit on how far you can be towed.

Vehicle Recovery Breakdown Cover

If you choose a vehicle recovery policy for your breakdown coverage, it means that you should be able to get towed to a preferred destination if your vehicle can't be fixed on the road. This is very valuable if you end up in the middle of nowhere at night, with no way of getting home.

Usually, with vehicle recovery cover, you'll still receive roadside assistance. You'll also be able to get anywhere you need to in the UK, so you know that you can always get home. However, you will need to pay extra for recovery, compared to a standard policy, and you won't be covered for breakdowns that happen at home.

At Home Coverage

It may seem strange to pay extra on your policy for breakdown cover just so that you're defended when you're trying to pull out of the driveway at home. However, a surprising number of breakdowns happen when you're right outside of your front door. If you're rushing to get to work or take your kids to school, having at home coverage ensures that you'll be able to access the help of an expert.

With at home coverage, you get help if your vehicle as at home, and you might feel more supported if you usually drive in very local areas. You may be able to get your car up and running again quickly, so you can carry on with your day. However, if your car can't be fixed, you might not get car hire included, and you will need to pay extra for home coverage.

Onward Travel Breakdown Cover

Finally, onward travel breakdown cover is an advanced form of breakdown support that ensures you'll be able to get to wherever you need to be, regardless of whether it's possible to fix your vehicle quickly or not. This form of breakdown cover provides a vast range of options when it comes to getting the most out of your journeys. Usually, you will even be able to access a courtesy car so that you can continue driving if your vehicle cannot be fixed.

With onward travel coverage, even if your vehicle cannot be fixed quickly, you'll still have a variety of ways to continue on your journey. You may be able to access coverage for the cost of accommodation if you're traveling overnight. However, onward travel does cost more than a basic breakdown policy.

What Kind of Extras Can You Get with Breakdown Cover?

Just like other insurance policies, there's often an option to add extras onto your system if you need them. These extras are intended to make your peace of mind more complete when it comes to feeling protected on the roads. If you haven't considered breakdown cover before, then you may not know what kind of extras to expect. Although the options differ depending on who you buy from, some of the most common solutions include:

  • European breakdown cover: You may want to extend your coverage if you're planning on driving your vehicle abroad. The rules regarding breakdown cover in Europe might change with Brexit, but many providers currently offer some form of coverage that you can use to defend your vehicle when you're away from the UK. European breakdown cover may also include the use of a hire car if you're unable to get your vehicle back up and running.
  • Key replacement: Sometimes, problems with your vehicle aren't limited to issues with the car itself. Some of us struggle to make the most of our vehicles because we spend so much time looking for lost keys. Key replacement offers cash towards replacement locks and keys if your keys are damaged, stolen, or misplaced.
  • Tyre replacement: There are few things more frustrating than a blown tyre particularly when you have countless other costs to worry about in a month. Tyre replacement means that your policy provider will pay for extra tyres if you experience any damage or punctures.
  • Battery replacement: If something goes wrong with your vehicle battery it can be very expensive to have it replaced. Battery replacement removes that worry from your mind by ensuring that you always have access to a spare.

You can even look into a multi-person package that provides breakdown coverage for everyone in your family, regardless of which vehicles they might use.

Are There Any Exclusions with Breakdown Cover?

It's worth noting that there is some case in which your breakdown cover provider might not be able to instantly fix your vehicle problems. Although there are plenty of policy types and added extras to explore, there will still be times when you might not be covered by your policy. For instance, common exclusions include:

  • Support when you break down on privately-owned land.
  • Support when you break down with pets and animals: You might not be able to get to where you need to be when your car breaks down if you're travelling with animals. Make sure that you let your provider know if you frequently travel with pets or livestock.
  • Breakdown assistance after an accident: if you get into an accident that causes your vehicle to breakdown, some providers won't be able to help. They may be able to tow your car, but only after you've spoken to the emergency services.
  • Assistance when you break down due to poor maintenance: Your provider will expect you to take reasonable care of your vehicle. If you break down because of improper maintenance, then you may not be covered.
  • Support when you break down abroad. Even if you have a very high level of coverage, you may need additional support if you plan on driving abroad.

How Much Do You Need to Spend on Breakdown Cover?

You might be wondering how much it costs to get this extra support for you and your car when you're on the road. Breakdown cover prices can vary, but usually, they're somewhere between £30 and £40 depending on the kind of support you need. Of course, the quote you get can depend on a variety of things, including:

  • The level and type of coverage you choose: Local cover is usually some of the most basic coverage you can get for breakdown purposes.
  • Extras added to your breakdown policy: Extra support generally costs more. Make sure you know your prices before adding extras.
  • The number of vehicles or people on a policy: Adding multiple people or cars to a plan will cost more, but it may be less expensive than getting separate policies.
  • The kind of vehicle you're covering: Vehicles like motorcycles and vans require different types of repair and coverage. The kind of car you have will depend on what you're driving.
  • The age and model of your car: Different makes and models of car and the age of the vehicle can also contribute to varying repair fees. Higher repair fees often lead to a higher cost overall for your breakdown support.

Ultimately, if you want to find the best price for your breakdown policy, then you'll need to be willing to do your research. When you know what kind of plan is right for you, and the sort of support you need for your vehicle, you can begin looking at your options. The best thing you can do is shop around and compare the prices for different levels of breakdown cover. There are plenty of comparison websites to help you do this. You can create a short list of options, then compare their support levels like for like depending on what you need.

Remember, when you are comparing policies, make sure that you're getting the same level of coverage from each provider. It's also a good idea to check how long it will take your provider to reach you in the case of a breakdown. This time should be published on most reputable websites, or you can call to find out more.

If you do want to keep your costs as low as possible, it's usually a good idea to avoid paying every month for your policy too. Most providers will offer a better deal if you're willing to shell out the full cost for a year's worth of support at once. All you'll need to do is opt for an annual payment and save up what you would pay for your monthly fees.

Remember that you can also consider haggling to save money when the time comes to renew your vehicle. A lot of people find that their policy costs can go up over time, perhaps because their introductory fees have run out after a little while, or because they've had to use the service a few times.

If your policy costs are growing too significant, then there's nothing to stop you from switching to a different provider. Just as with any other form of insurance, you can always compare your options again online and turn to another company if you need to. Alternatively, if you don't want to switch straight away, you could consider telling your policy provider that you're looking for a better deal. Some companies will give you money off to stop you from switching.

Car Breakdown Finishing Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide has given you a good overview about the kind of breakdown cover you can access. Before you decide to purchase a policy with any specific provider, however, it's important to make sure that you're taking advantage of the right deal. For instance, consider asking the provider about how many vehicles they have in their fleet, and whether coverage is still available every day of the year- including national holidays.

You'll still want protection from your breakdown cover policy if you're stranded on the side of the road on Christmas Eve or New Year's Day. A few other questions that you might want to think about include:

  • Which providers offer help if you've broken down without cover. Some providers will still come out and help you if you don't have coverage with them, but you will need to pay an emergency fee.
  • When does coverage start? Some breakdown cover providers will be able to choose the date that you want your cover to start. You should be covered at basic level for the first day after you've set up your policy. After 24 hours, you'll be able to access any extras you've requested.
  • Is cover available for business vehicles? Some providers will only offer breakdown cover for personal vehicles, while others specialise in business vehicles. When you're comparing your options online, check whether you can get a specific kind of coverage to suit your needs.

Choosing breakdown cover can seem like a complicated process at first, but it's easier than you think. All you need to do is decide what level of coverage you need, and how you would like to protect yourself from unexpected car issues. Once you know what kind of coverage you're looking for, you'll be able to use the services online to compare the different policies and prices available to you. Remember not to make the mistake of sticking with the same breakdown insurance provider if you're not happy with the support that you're getting. You should be able to easily switch to another provider if you are no longer getting the right deal.

You should also be able to upgrade your policy with additional coverage and extras if you need to at any given time by contacting your provider.

We may receive payments or commission for advertising. This does not influence any ratings or reviews which are based on our opinion. Average response times and roadside fix rates will not normally include major accidents or extreme failures. Information correct at time of publishing.