Tips for cheaper breakdown cover

See if our money-saving tips can help you save on your breakdown insurance while still getting the right level of cover for your needs.

Key points

  • Shop around for the right breakdown cover comparing prices and policy features
  • Consider small breakdown providers as well as the AA and RAC
  • Think carefully before packaging breakdown cover with car insurance or a service such as a bank account
  • If you don't need them, don't pay for extra policy features such as European cover

Breakdown cover is something that many drivers choose to invest in.

It offers motorists - whether they're in a car, motorbike or van - peace of mind and reassurance that they won't be left stranded.

It doesn't need to be expensive - in fact, it could be easy to bring the cost of your breakdown insurance down.

Just assess what level of cover both you and your car needs and decide on the appropriately priced policy.

Here are some key areas for you to consider:

Take care with cover levels

Breakdown insurance offers varying levels of cover. Most standard policies come with roadside assistance and local recovery - all policies you compare through Gocompare.com will fulfil these basic requirements.

You can then add on the level of cover that suits your needs, with the main options being home assistance, national recovery, onward travel and European cover.How to cut the cost of breakdown cover

These extra features come with a heftier price tag, so make sure you understand them and whether they're suitable for you.

Think about your driving habits, your own level of mechanical competence, how reliant you are on your vehicle, its age and your assessment of its reliability.

Consider, for example, whether you need national recovery - if you travel long distances across the UK for business or leisure it may be a wise investment, but if you only ever make local trips it could be unnecessary.

Motorists who drive abroad should consider taking out European cover.

Frequent driving on the continent would justify the cost of an annual policy - many providers will offer 90 days cover as standard.

But if you're planning a one-off sojourn, taking out single-trip cover could be a cheaper option.

Personal, vehicle or family cover?

Breakdown cover can either apply to an individual or to vehicle(s).

Our research into packaging breakdown cover with car insurance suggests that, in many instances, it may be more cost effective to buy the two products separately

There can be very good reasons for choosing personal breakdown cover which - subject to terms and conditions - will cover you for whatever vehicle you happen to be driving.

You'll probably pay more up front for such a policy, though, as the insurer won't know what vehicle they're covering, increasing the level of risk.

Consider whether a vehicle-based policy is better for your situation, and also think about a multi-car or family policy.

The latter is a potential money-saving option for a household with multiple vehicles.

Don't pay twice

Some car insurance policies include breakdown cover, as do some packaged bank accounts.

Our research into packaging breakdown cover with car insurance suggests that, in many instances, it may be more cost effective to buy the two products separately.

If you've bought a new car, breakdown insurance may be included as part of the purchase price, at least for the first year.

It's possible that a smaller breakdown firm could serve your needs just as well as one of the big names

Check your paperwork to see whether you have cover in place and, if so, ensure that it offers the appropriate options for your motoring needs.

Ultimately you don't want to be paying twice for the same product, so ensure you're not doubling up.

Consider a small breakdown firm

While the big names such as the AA, RAC and Green Flag may spring to mind when you think of breakdown, consider whether you're paying a premium for the name and livery.

It's possible that a smaller breakdown firm could serve your needs just as well.

They may not have their own patrol vehicles, but could offer a very similar service by sub-contracting out to local recovery companies across the country.

Read our article 'Should I consider a small breakdown provider?', do your own research, read the terms of the contract and look out for reviews of some of the smaller companies in the industry - you could save yourself a few pounds.Jump leads

Is pay and claim cover an option?

Pay and claim breakdown policies are another choice available to drivers, and they could be the cheapest up-front option.

They tend to be niche policies and they're not widely available.

As with standard breakdown cover you pay an annual fee, but the cover you receive will then differ in two main ways.

Firstly, the breakdown company will not operate its own patrols - it will contract out to local recovery services.

One of the best ways to ensure you're getting the right deal on breakdown cover is to shop around

Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, under the pay and claim terms and conditions you'll be required to pay the local service when you call them out and then reclaim the money by sending your receipts to the breakdown company.

Pay and claim may save you money in the short term, but if you're not able to pay on the day you could find yourself in a jam.

Beware of taking out cheaper cover that might leave you out of pocket further down the road - and may leave you literally on the side of the road.

But if you're disciplined enough to put aside money for an emergency and to follow up on the paperwork after a breakdown, pay and claim could be a money-saving option that's worth thinking about.What to do if you break down

Compare

One of the best ways to ensure you're getting the right deal on breakdown cover is to shop around.

With Gocompare.com you can compare quotes for cars, motorbikes or vans.

Simply tell us how old your vehicle is and what additional levels of cover you require. You can then filter your results to compare policies side-by-side.

Remember that the cheapest policy isn't necessarily the best policy for you. By spending a little more now you could avoid being out of pocket later on down the road.

By Emily Bater