Get your car, motorbike or van back on the road with the right policy
Breakdown cover is a type of cover for your vehicle that can come to the rescue if you break down. You can cover a car, van or bike so you don’t get stuck at the side of a road for long.
There are two main types of breakdown cover: personal and vehicle.
You specify the car, van, or bike you want to cover on the policy. It doesn’t matter who’s driving the car at the time, so it’s useful if more than one person drives your car or uses the van.
Personal breakdown cover is for an individual, no matter what vehicle you’re in – you can be the driver or passenger. If you’ve got more than one car to cover, it can be cheaper. The drawback is only you’re covered, so if anyone else drives the car they’d need their own cover.
It's not a legal requirement, but it can bring peace of mind if you ever breakdown – whether that’s a major fault or a flat battery.
Being able to call a specialist 24-hours a day to come and help out is usually worth it. They’ll either try and fix your car at the roadside, or tow you to a garage for repairs.
The cost of your breakdown policy will depend on the level of cover you need:
Your breakdown provider will send their patrol to your location for roadside assistance.
If there's no chance of fixing the problem roadside, vehicle recovery will make sure you're towed to the nearest garage or your home. It's included along with roadside recovery on most breakdown policies.
If your car breaks down outside your house, home start will get you back up and running again.
If you're on the way to a destination when you break down, you'll be covered to get there by another means with onward travel.
For road trips across the pond, you can get breakdown cover for Europe.
This could contribute towards or cover the expense of replacement.
Filled up your tank with petrol instead of diesel by accident? You may be covered by your breakdown policy for misfuelling your car, but also check whether it's included under your car insurance.
Even if you’ve picked the same element of cover, like home start for example, each policy will have its own terms.
Look out for limits on call-outs in a year. Some are unlimited, others are free until you hit a cap. Then you’ll be charged for any call-outs after that. Some policies have an excess too. You’d pay this for a call-out, so keep an eye on it when you’re comparing prices.
It’s always worth reading reviews, especially for lesser-known providers. Check reported response times, and how many issues get fixed at the roadside too.
Things like the type of cover you want and when you need it to start
Name, email, date of birth and what type of vehicle you’d like to cover
Compare prices and find the right cover
We've got five tips to help you get those premiums down
Only pay for features you need
Save money by covering multiple cars under one policy
Sometimes breakdown cover is included with your bank account or car insurance
The smaller breakdown companies often have good deals
It's the easiest way to save money on your policy!
If your car does give up the ghost it's important to pull over so that you're out of the way of any traffic.
Everyone must leave the car and move to safe place away from moving vehicles.
Call your breakdown cover provider immediately and let them know where you're stranded.
If you're close to a motorway phone, it's best to use it - the breakdown service will find it easier to locate you. Some of the larger providers use what3words now too, which lets you communicate your exact location. It might be worth downloading the app, just in case.
Broken down in your local shopping centre car park? What about on your mate's farm? In that case, your breakdown provider might charge you extra or not cover you at all if access is difficult or prohibited.
If you breakdown while transporting pets or livestock, onward travel for your pet is up to the discretion of your breakdown cover provider. Assistance for livestock is very unlikely under a standard policy, but you can get specialist livestock or horse trailer breakdown cover to avoid this.
Got a flat tyre? Forgotten to top up the oil? Don't assume that the breakdown company will rush to assist you with basic maintenance.
It's your responsibility as a driver to make sure your vehicle is roadworthy, and it's useful to have at least a basic grasp of how to make simple repairs.
Page last reviewed: 01 December 2020