Breakdown cover


Man with broken down car

What’s car breakdown cover?

Breakdown cover helps you get back on the road if you can’t get your vehicle up and running.

You can purchase it for cars, motorbikes or vans, and it’s typically not included in your motor insurance policy.

Assistance will be sent if your vehicle breaks down and you’re unable to continue your journey. It will either be fixed by the side of the road or towed to a garage for repairs.

Some policies will even visit you at home to get your vehicle started.

breakdown cover

Types of breakdown cover

You can choose between:

Personal breakdown cover

This covers you rather than the vehicle, whether you’re the driver or a passenger. It tends to be more expensive than vehicle breakdown cover and you can include more than one person from your household on your policy.

More about personal breakdown cover.

Vehicle breakdown cover

This covers one specific vehicle, and it doesn’t matter who is driving when it breaks down (provided they’re insured to do so). You may be able to include multiple vehicles registered to the same address under one policy

More about vehicle breakdown cover.

Why compare breakdown policies with us?

Plenty of choice

Choose between policies from multiple providers that provide cover either for your vehicle or for you

Cover to suit you

We make it easy by showing you important policy details and Defaqto star ratings, as well as price, so you can make an informed decision

Free, fast and easy

It only takes a few minutes to find the right policy and save money and best of all, it’s free to compare with us

What’s covered?

There are a few different levels to choose from, so it’s important to understand how they differ so you can pick the right option for you:

At home or home start

This could be the right choice for those who rarely travel far from home. It provides assistance if you break down at your house or within a certain distance from it – usually up to a mile, but it will differ between providers

More about home start breakdown cover

Roadside assistance

If you break down by the side of the road, a mechanic will be sent to help. If they’re unable to repair your vehicle, you’ll likely be towed to a local garage

More about roadside assistance cover

National recovery

You’ll receive roadside assistance and if it can’t be fixed, you’ll be towed to any location you choose in the UK. If you tend to work away from home a lot or travel around the country, you may want to consider this type of cover

Onward travel

This can help you reach your destination, even if you break down. Your policy may provide overnight accommodation, public transport tickets, or even a courtesy vehicle

More about onward travel

European cover

If you’re travelling through Europe, your plans won’t be scuppered if your vehicle breaks down while you’re away. You may want to check whether this can be added as an optional extra and which countries it covers

More about European breakdown cover

What happens if I break down without breakdown cover?

It’s possible to get roadside assistance by purchasing emergency cover that starts immediately. But it can be an expensive option as you’ll be expected to pay an emergency call-out fee, the cost of repairs, and the policy premium. You’ll need to do this by calling rather than purchasing online and not all breakdown providers offer this type of policy.

Alternatively, you may be able to find a local garage that can assist, but again you’ll be charged a call-out fee and it will depend on where you breakdown.

As a last resort, you could contact National Highways (if you’ve broken down in England) to recover your vehicle, but this will be pricey.

Check whether you already have breakdown cover in place, because it might have been included as a perk when you opened your bank account or took out a car insurance policy.

Senior couple watching the sunset from their car

How to get cheaper breakdown cover

Try these tips to save on your breakdown cover:

  1. Compare policies

    One of the best ways to find cheaper breakdown cover is to shop around and compare policies from different providers. It takes a couple of minutes and can save you money

  2. Don’t auto-renew

    Leaving your policy to auto-renew annually could mean you’re paying far more than you need to. Make sure you shop around before your renewal date to see if you can get the cover you need at a cheaper price

  3. Adjust your policy

    It may not be necessary to have a comprehensive policy if your vehicle is relatively new and hasn’t had any issues. Take a look at cheaper, more basic levels of cover, and consider upgrading when the vehicle is older

  4. Consider a joint policy

    It may be cheaper to get a joint policy with your partner, rather than two separate policies

  5. Try vehicle cover rather than personal

    It’s generally cheaper to purchase a policy that covers your vehicle, rather than the driver

Other types of breakdown cover

Van breakdown

It works similar to a car breakdown policy in that you can choose between different levels of cover. If you have a job that requires you to drive multiple vans, you may want to think about personal cover.

More about van breakdown cover.

Motorbike breakdown

Have your motorbike fixed roadside or towed to the nearest local garage. You can even get European breakdown cover for your next trip.

More about motorbike breakdown cover.

Motorhome breakdown

It’s likely you’ll need specialist cover as most standard breakdown policies won’t include vehicles with living accommodation or that are over a certain weight.

More about motorhome breakdown cover.

Business breakdown

It’s possible to get a breakdown policy for a fleet of vehicles, including cars, taxis, delivery vans, and minibuses. If you only have one vehicle that you use for your business, you can just get standard breakdown cover.

More about business breakdown cover.

Policy extras

It’s possible to add optional extras to your breakdown cover for an additional fee. This could include:

Key replacement

Depending on the provider, this could cover replacing your car and home keys if they’re lost, broken, or stolen. It may even pay out for new locks and the use of a hire car

Tyre replacement

Pays for replacement tyres if yours have been punctured and they can’t be repaired. There will be a cap on the number of new tyres you can get per policy term

Battery replacement

Get a new battery if yours breaks down and can’t be recharged

European breakdown cover

Get assistance if your vehicle needs repairs while you’re travelling around Europe

Multi-car or family breakdown cover

Add two or more cars to the same breakdown policy rather than taking out individual ones. Usually, they’ll be required to be registered to the same address

Special vehicles cover

Towing a caravan or a trailer may require you to have an added level of cover

Misfuelling cover

If you’ve accidentally put the wrong fuel in your vehicle, a mechanic can flush out the fuel and replace it so you can get on your way


It’s possible for breakdown cover to be included as an optional extra on your car insurance policy, but there’s likely to be an extra cost and it may not provide everything you need.

It’s always best to check what you get for your money and compare it against standalone breakdown cover to see if it’s worth it.

Compare car insurance
Long haired dog poking his head out the family car

Knowing your breakdown cover: Personal vs. vehicle

Check your policy to understand whether your breakdown cover applies to you or your vehicle.

Vehicle cover policies cover a single car, motorbike or van - no matter who's driving. Personal cover insures the individual for all vehicles they're insured to drive. It's generally more expensive though.
Ryan Fulthorpe - GoCompare motoring expert

Frequently asked questions

When you’re stressed out with smoke billowing from your car bonnet, the last thing you need is to try and find a local garage to come and assist you, especially if you have to be somewhere urgently or have children in the car.

Nobody wants to get stuck by the side of the road, but the right breakdown cover could help you get on your way sooner and won’t leave you out of pocket.

Proper and regular maintenance is the key to keeping your car in good nick:

  1. Pay attention to your dashboard lights – Always investigate if warning lights illuminate on your dashboard rather than ignoring them
  2. Check water and oil levels – Make sure they’re at a sufficient level and that you have anti-freeze coolant in winter
  3. Pump up your tyres – Regularly check your tyre pressure and tread depth, pumping up or replacing when necessary
  4. Get your car serviced – Find out how often you should book your vehicle in for a service from the manual - or the car computer will likely alert you when the time comes
  5. Skip the weights – Try not to overload your car with unnecessary weight which can affect the tyres and suspension
  6. Drive carefully – It’s a given, but not racing around and constantly braking abruptly will save your car a lot of wear and tear

If you have vehicle cover and an insured family member is driving the named car, they’ll be able to access breakdown cover.

If you have personal cover and are a passenger in a car that breaks down with a family member driving, you can get assistance.

Alternatively, you can usually add multiple vehicles or family members to the same policy, which will give them the cover they need.

More about family breakdown cover.

It depends on the cover you choose. Comprehensive policies may include unlimited callouts, whereas more basic policies may limit how many are included per year, or how many callouts you can have for certain problems.

Yes, generally breakdown cover will include fixes for things like punctured tyres and flat batteries.

If you want to cancel your policy within the 14-day cooling-off period, for instance if you realise you already have cover or find a cheaper policy elsewhere, you should be entitled to a full refund.

However, if you want to stop your breakdown cover after this, you’ll probably have to pay a cancellation fee.

Whether you can use a standard breakdown policy will depend on the provider. Some will only cover cars up to a certain age because it can be difficult to replace parts on older vehicles.

You may need to find a specialist policy, or you could have it as an add-on for your classic car insurance.

Learn more about classic breakdown cover.

Standard breakdown cover typically won’t include towing caravans or trailers. You’ll need to make sure that you have special vehicles cover as an add-on, or a policy that includes it.

Learn more about caravan and trailer breakdown cover.

You’ll need onward travel cover to be given a courtesy car when you break down, but it will depend on the policy, so it’s always best to check.

All named drivers of a car will be included if you’ve purchased vehicle cover, but if you have personal cover, you’ll only be able to receive assistance if you’re driving or a passenger in the vehicle when it breaks down.

You make also like to compare

Car insurance image

Car insurance

Car insurance covers costs of repair or replacements if your car is damaged, stolen or catches fire. Compare quotes now.

Van insurance image

Van insurance

Whether you own a pick-up van or a classic transit, compare van insurance quotes in minutes to find the right one for you.

Motorbike insurance image

Motorbike insurance

Find multiple comprehensive and third party, fire and theft motorbike insurance policies in minutes.

Page last reviewed: 10 August 2023

Page reviewed by Holly Thomas