Choosing the Right Breakdown Cover

3rd September 2015

Having breakdown cover for your car is essential if you don’t want to find yourself stuck if your car breaks down, or when you leave home for something important and find that your car won’t start.

You know you are bound to break down at the worst possible time, that’s just the way it happens.

If nothing else, having the cover makes you feel a bit more confident when you are driving, especially if you are on a long journey.

There are different options available for the type of cover you can have:

Home Start

This is where if you breakdown at home, you will be covered and your breakdown company will come out to you to repair your car.

Roadside Cover

The most basic form of breakdown cover is the roadside option and it is the cheapest to have. It will only cover you if you break down when you are not at home. Your car will normally be repaired at the roadside or taken to a garage that is close by.

Onward Travel

This will cover you if your car breaks down and you can’t use it. The cover will pay for costs such as a hire car or public transport to get to your intended destination. You can even claim accommodation costs if they are needed, depending on the situation you find yourself in.

European Cover

If you plan on driving your car in Europe, a policy that protects you should anything happen to your car when you are away might be something you want to consider. You can expect it be significantly more expensive and time consuming to have to deal with repairing your car in Europe and even having it towed back to the UK. If you are going abroad you can buy cover for your trip, or if you travel frequently it might make more sense to include the cover on your main policy.

Personal Cover

For most people it is more cost effective to have cover on the car they own. But if you know that you will be driving multiple vehicles then it might be best to take out personal cover. This will be more expensive but it covers you personally, rather than just your one car. Speak to the providers and see what the difference is between the two policies and find out which suits your situation best.

Check you don’t already have cover

When you buy a new car, the deal you purchased might have breakdown cover included. If this is the case, you need to check if it has the cover that you want. For example, it might not include Home Start which you may feel you need. At the same time if you have bought a new car you might not need to have the most comprehensive breakdown cover as a new car is less likely to break down.

You might also have cover with your bank account. Some accounts include breakdown cover as one of their incentives in their monthly fees. Again you should check the exact cover you have with your bank account and buy any necessary add-ons if needed.

Remember that this might not always be the best value, so look into the benefits you are getting from your bank account, the monthly fee you are paying, and the cost of stand-alone breakdown cover and work out which option is the best value for you.

Are you renewing?

Don’t always let your policy renew automatically, even if you are happy and want to carry on with it. The providers will want to keep you on as a customer and in some cases if you threaten to leave them they will offer you a better deal. You can always shop around and find cheaper quotes from other companies and then go back to your provider saying that you have been offered a better deal elsewhere. They may be able to lower their rates on your cover, which might be quite a significant saving.

If you are a good customer to them they will be more likely to lower your rate. If you have a low call-out rate, you may be able to reduce your cover in a similar way to how you can with a no-claims policy on your motor insurance.

Other benefits

It is a competitive market so you might be able to secure other benefits with your breakdown cover. Companies offer discounted hotel stays or short trips abroad just for having your cover with them.

One of the best ways to make sure you don’t need to use breakdown cover is to keep your car in good condition and running well. Our guide to extending the life of your car will help you keep your car going for as long as possible at the least cost to you.

Breakdown cover if you are towing a caravan

Most companies will repair your car if you are towing a caravan, however if your caravan breaks down or is damaged, that is a recovery cost that won’t be included in your cover. You are also likely to be able to have your caravan towed away, depending on it’s size, a very large caravan is less likely to be towed away.

How to make a claim

When you breakdown and need your recovery company to come and fix your car or tow it to the nearest garage you simply need to call the number you were given by them when you have an emergency. This will usually be on your membership card. It’s often best to store this number in your mobile phone too, or anywhere else it is easily accessible.

Motorcycle breakdown cover

Most of the main providers will cover motorbikes, and you can take out standard cover with them. Speak to them regarding their policies and the cost of this cover.

Instant cover

When you buy your cover and you make payment, with most providers you will be instantly covered, so there is no need to wait for the post to receive your membership details. This might not always be the case with any extra benefits you buy, but the main cover will usually start instantly.

Roadside assistance safety

People who work in roadside assistance understand that the job can be dangerous. Standing by the side of the road is risky, with dangerous passing traffic. Help to avoid any accidents by staying safe when stopping on the hard shoulder.

Most of the main providers will cover motorbikes, and you can take out standard cover with them. Speak to them regarding their policies and the cost of this cover.