Protect yourself against breakdown peril

Being stranded by the roadside next to a broken down car during a weekend break is somethng that all motorists dread.

Despite this, a remarkable number of people regularly make long journeys by car without any form of breakdown cover in place, hoping that they will make it to their destination without having to call for help.

Unfortunately, many underestimate just how heavy a price to pay there is if your car does conk out and you don’t have cover – with some garages charging around a pound a mile for long distance recoveries, and others offering set rates of up to £200 just for a short tow off the motorway.

Recovery costs can be even higher when you are driving abroad. If, for example, your car breaks down in France and needs to be repatriated to England, it could set you back a crippling £800 or more, so not taking out cover is usually a false economy. It doesn’t have to break the bank either – policies can be picked up from as little as around £40 a year for comprehensive cover.

Don’t just stick with the big name brands that you know, as their policies may be considerably more expensive than those offered by the smaller providers, which is why it pays to do plenty of research before buying.

Make sure you find out exactly what policies cover too – do they offer roadside assistance, and recovery to any destination, and what is the average call out time? You should also ask if the cover includes the car being fixed at home if necessary.

If you are planning on driving to Europe, then you can either choose a single trip plan for however long you are going for, or, if you think you will be making several trips to the Continent over the year, you can take out annual cover. Make sure you find out if the cover includes repatriation of the car, driver and passengers if necessary, as this is likely to be the most expensive cost you could face.

You can also take out breakdown cover through your motor insurer. Many insurers are in partnership with roadside assistance companies and offer breakdown cover as an add-on to your motor insurance policy. In some cases, UK and European breakdown cover is included as standard with motor insurance policies, so you may not need to pay any extra for it. Check your policy carefully before buying.

As well as taking out comprehensive breakdown cover, if you are planning on taking your car overseas, you should also ensure you are covered by your motor insurance in case you have an accident. To drive in the European Union it is compulsory to have at least third party car insurance in place.

Look at the small print of your policy to see if it includes ‘foreign use.’ This will either be automatically included as standard on your policy, or it can be purchased as an ‘optional extension’ for an additional premium.

It doesn’t take much to ensure you are protected in the case of breakdowns or accidents, so think carefully about scrimping on cover – it could cost you dear in the long run.

By Melanie Wright

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