• Henry Naylor

How to find the best Breakdown Cover deals

Breakdown Cover comes in all shapes and sizes, but the best deal for you is going to be the one that provides the right level of protection at the lowest possible price.

A Breakdown Cover policy gives you the peace of mind knowing that help is at hand when you break down on the road or your car fails to start at home. The vehicle is usually fixed on the spot without charge. Often within one hour. 

What happens if I don't have Breakdown Cover?

When a car breaks down or fails to start, the experience is frustrating, annoying, and sometimes frightening. And it always seems to happen at the worst possible time. 

Most people spend less time in their cars setting off on occasional journeys and more time embarking on essential trips. Most of the time, we use our vehicles for the school run, travelling to and from work, rushing to appointments or setting off on a long journey or holiday.

If you break down without cover or the right type of protection, you could be left facing an expensive bill for

  • mobile mechanics who usually charge for travelling time,

  • private recovery to a local garage,

  • a hire car to complete your journey, and

  • temporary accommodation if you break down far from home.

Moreover, breaking down in a country lane at night or on a motorway can be extremely dangerous. 

According to accident compensation firm First Personal Injury, 250 people are killed or seriously injured after breaking down on a motorway hard shoulder every year. Experts claim that many of these incidents could be prevented by following simple guidelines and calling a breakdown provider for assistance.

The inconvenience of breaking down without cover can also have repercussions beyond the immediate incident.

We often hear about people cancelling a holiday because they missed their flight after delays getting back on the road, or picking up a speeding ticket rushing to their destination.

The good news is though, the right kind of Breakdown Cover can quickly get you mobile from as little as £30 per year.

Who provides Breakdown Cover?

The AA and RAC are the UK's largest Breakdown Cover providers. Green Flag and another 20 or so smaller companies also provide effective levels of cover to suit most circumstances.

Costs vary between all providers depending on personal circumstances and the level of cover required. So it's sensible to compare the whole market with a single application to compare prices.

Should I take out personal cover or vehicle cover?

Personal Breakdown Cover protects you for any vehicle, whether you are driving or a passenger.

Vehicle breakdown protects a named vehicle, regardless of who is driving.

It's essential to think about which option suits you best:

Personal Breakdown Cover

Personal cover is an ideal choice if you drive more than one vehicle, i.e. when there might be 2 or 3 cars in your family.

However, if you are not present in a vehicle that breaks down, it won't be covered under a personal policy.

Vehicle Breakdown Cover

This type of policy covers a named vehicle, regardless of who is driving or present at the time. If you only drive one car, this could be the cheapest option. 

The other benefit is that if anyone else is driving when the vehicle breaks down, the cover is still valid.

If you have 2 or 3 cars in your family and everyone is insured to drive each other's cars, personal cover and vehicle cover can work. The choice will come down to the lowest cost.

How much does Breakdown Cover cost?

Breakdown Cover has several options, in addition to a choice between personal and vehicle protection.

Each option affects the cost, so it's crucial to think about how you use your car. Think about the financial and emotional impact of a breakdown happening and make sure you protect yourself for every eventuality.

For example, basic roadside assistance may be fine for some, but it doesn't cover you if the vehicle is at home and fails to start.

If you get caught out without a home start option, you could end up paying anywhere up to £150 extra for a one-off incident. It's important because research shows that more people (37%) call out breakdown assistance to their home than any other location.

Breakdown Cover options

Roadside Assistance

Every Breakdown Cover policy includes roadside assistance as standard. You'll get help if you break down ¼ mile or more away from home, and a patrol will attempt to get you up and running as quickly as possible.

If not, the vehicle is towed to a destination of your choice, usually within 10 miles.

What's not included: Breakdown assistance at home, recovery to home or a destination more than 10 miles away from the incident.

Vehicle Recovery

Vehicle Recovery includes roadside assistance. Also, your car will be towed to a destination of your choice anywhere in the UK if it can't be fixed at the roadside. This type of cover is ideal for people who travel more than 10 miles away from home.

Even if you only travel longer distances on rare occasions, vehicle recovery is still a sensible option.

What's not included: Breakdown assistance at home.

At Home Breakdown Cover

The ideal option if you travel to and from work each day or use your car for the school run.

Remember, 37% of all breakdown requests occur when a vehicle doesn't start at home. Flat batteries and electrical faults are amongst the most common causes, yet can quickly be fixed to get you up and running.

What's not included: You usually won't get a hire car if your vehicle isn't fixed at home. However, most policies include taking the vehicle to a garage of your choice.

Onward Travel

Onward Travel Assistance costs more, but it's a sensible option if completing your journey is time-critical. 

If you are driving to deal with a family emergency, or make a holiday flight or ferry crossing, this type of cover is ideal. You will typically get a courtesy car or costs for public transport to complete your journey. Some policies even provide overnight accommodation if your vehicle needs fixing at a local garage.

Is it cheaper to buy Breakdown Cover as part of my car insurance?

This depends on the level of cover you need and the type of deals on offer when you apply. The age of your car, location and annual mileage can also affect the cost. 

Most car insurance providers give you the option to add Breakdown Cover as part of the package. The big three providers [AA, RAC, Green Flag] usually provide the cover so you could miss out on deals available from the rest of the market.

Our advice is always to compare Breakdown Cover prices first to identify the cheapest deals. Then compare car insurance prices with and without the same level of Breakdown Cover to see what you could save.

Could I already have Breakdown Cover and not know?

You might have Breakdown Cover included in a packaged bank or building society account. However, this typically only provides basic coverage and may not be suitable for your needs. Check the details.

Who benefits the most from Breakdown Cover?

Anyone who drives a car is likely to suffer a breakdown at some point. Each year, the RAC attends to 2.5 million motorists in need of assistance. And according to a survey conducted by Which magazine, 1 in 6 people surveyed called for breakdown assistance within the last 12 months.

Often breakdowns are the result of irregular servicing or vehicle owners lacking basic maintenance knowledge.

Buying Breakdown Cover is likely to save more than you'll spend, but there are two categories of drivers who tend to ignore the negative impact of breakdowns the most:

Young drivers

Young drivers pay more for car insurance than experienced drivers, and many miss out on cheaper deals if they don't compare car insurance prices accurately. The extra insurance costs often mean younger drivers have less money left to pay for Breakdown Cover.

However, the costs of recovering a vehicle usually exceed the annual price of Breakdown Cover by two or three times.

And even the most enthusiastic young driver armed with an array of DIY maintenance and repair skills will struggle to fix a car with a complex electrical fault.

Older drivers

Many older drivers ignore Breakdown Cover because they don't use their vehicles as much as they used to. But this doesn't mean they are less likely to break down.

Missing vital doctors or hospital appointments can cause significant stress and worry. Suffering a puncture can leave a driver and passengers stranded miles from home.

Arranging vehicle Breakdown Cover means you’ll receive help from qualified vehicle technicians. And a patrol will usually be with you within the hour when you need it.

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