What is breakdown cover?
Breakdown cover is insurance that means you can get help if your vehicle breaks down. For example, if your battery goes flat, you get a flat tyre or your engine conks out, you can call for roadside assistance. When your mechanic arrives, they’ll try to fix your vehicle there and then. If they can’t, they’ll tow you to a garage (also called ‘recovery’) for repairs, so you won’t be left stranded at the roadside.
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How does breakdown cover work?
You can either purchase breakdown cover as a separate policy, or purchase it combined with another service such as your car insurance. In most cases, you will pay for your breakdown cover annually or monthly, although there are some “pay and claim” policies where you pay for the costs of recovery upfront and then reclaim them later.
If you have cover and you breakdown, once you have stopped in a safe place you can call your breakdown provider for assistance. They will send out an engineer who will try to repair your car or if they can’t repair it at the scene, they will tow you to a nearby garage at the minimum. What happens next will depend on what is wrong with your car and the breakdown cover that you have.
With most breakdown policies, you won’t need to pay an excess when you receive assistance.
What does breakdown cover include?
Although details will differ between providers and the levels of cover, as a rule, breakdown cover will provide you with 24/7 roadside assistance across the UK (and Europe, if you have European cover).
Breakdown cover will typically cover the costs of a mechanic coming to assist you at the roadside so you can continue your journey or, if necessary, by towing you to a garage for further repairs.
Breakdown cover can help out with many different faults, such as punctures, flat batteries, and any other mechanical issues that prevent you from driving.
Without breakdown cover, it can be costly to call assistance out. It can costs hundreds of pounds just to get you to the nearest garage, versus the monthly average of £5-20 it can cost to make sure you’re covered.
Different levels of breakdown cover
When selecting our breakdown cover, it is important you select the right option for you. There are different levels of cover from roadside assistance to European recovery.
If you’ve broken down on the side of the road, a breakdown van would come and fix your vehicle, or tow you to a local garage. This is usually the most basic level of cover.
With most breakdown policies, you won’t need to pay an excess when you receive assistance.There may be limits to this level of cover. For example, if you break down within a certain distance from your home address, you may not be covered for roadside or breakdown assistance.
Home cover, or home start, will include roadside assistance, but will also cover you if you can’t get your vehicle started at, or close, to home.
If you have national recovery, you’ll get roadside assistance and, if your vehicle can’t be fixed, it’ll be towed to your destination, or a garage close to your destination.
European recovery will cover you for travel across the EU. Before you travel, you’ll need to ask your insurer for a Green Card as proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad.
Last reviewed: 1 December 2023
Next review: 1 January 2024