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Roadside assistance breakdown cover

Roadside recovery is an essential element of breakdown cover. Find out more about what’s included - and what isn’t.

Key points

  • All breakdown policies should include roadside assistance, but don't assume you have vehicle recovery if your car can't be fixed at the scene of the breakdown
  • You'll need home assistance for a breakdown at home or within a quarter of a mile of it
  • Read your policy carefully so you know what you’re covered for

Does my breakdown cover include roadside assistance?

All breakdown cover policies include roadside assistance.

This most basic level of cover means that your breakdown provider will send someone to assist you at the roadside if you break down more than a quarter of a mile from your home.

Policies typically include up to 60 minutes of free labour, but the cost of replacement parts isn’t included, unless your provider states otherwise.

If your vehicle can’t be fixed at the side of the road, you'll probably need it to be towed to the nearest garage or back home. Your breakdown provider will only cover this if your policy includes vehicle recovery.

Different breakdown companies have their own definitions for the levels of cover they offer. It's important to check that what you think you're buying is actually what you're getting.

Standard breakdown cover policies usually include both roadside assistance and vehicle recovery, but some pay and claim policies only offer the former.

Every policy you compare through GoCompare has roadside assistance and local recovery.

Why do I need roadside assistance?

Breakdowns can be very unexpected and arranging help for you and your vehicle on the spot can be stressful, difficult and very expensive.

If you don’t know who you’d turn to if you were suddenly stranded at the side of the motorway, breakdown cover with roadside assistance will give you peace of mind.

Many breakdowns occur in winter. Make sure you're prepared for inclement weather by reading our winter driving guide.

Keep blankets, sugary foods and a torch stored in the car. Even the most reliable breakdown service can sometimes take a while to reach you.

Tyre trouble

You should know how to change a tyre and have all the equipment to do so.

Find out where the jack, wrench and spare wheel are in your car. If you've got locking wheel nuts you'll need a key to change the tyre.

If you don't think you're up to replacing a blow-out on your vehicle, you should check that your policy covers wheel changes.

To get help from your provider, the spare wheel will need to be accessible and in good condition. You’ll also need the key to remove any locking wheel nuts with you in the vehicle.

In 2018 the RAC dealt with nearly 200,000 ‘puncture no spare’ breakdown cases.

Many new cars don't include a spare tyre as standard - they have a tyre repair kit instead. These usually only provide a temporary solution until you can reach a garage or home.

What exclusions should I look out for?

All policies differ - read your terms and conditions carefully to make sure you have sufficient cover.

Some typical exclusions to be aware of when considering roadside assistance include:

  • Faults due to human error - for instance lights left on, lost keys, running out of fuel, adding the wrong fuel
  • Limited number of call-outs within the duration of the policy
  • Delays from the start/purchase of a policy to when cover actually starts
  • Weight limits on your vehicle

By Emily Bater