What’s the best-value way to buy breakdown cover?

Image of car being towed
Nervous about a breakdown? Get covered
"See what your insurer's offering, but then take five minutes to compare prices for standalone deals too – then select the right cover for you"
  • | by Derri Dunn

If you’ve bought your breakdown cover packaged with your car insurance, you might feel like you got a pretty good money-saving deal – but the reality is you could be paying well over the odds.

On 12 March, research by Gocompare.com showed that 45% of comprehensive car insurance policies allowed you to select breakdown cover as an optional extra, usually with the choice of a few different levels of cover.

When you buy your breakdown cover with your car insurance, you probably have the impression you’ll be saving money, but the research showed that a ‘package deal’ wasn’t always the most cost-effective option. In fact, the average standalone breakdown cover prices listed on Gocompare.com were between 34% and 62% cheaper than the average optional extra policies sold alongside car insurance – which is a pretty significant saving for simply comparing and buying your breakdown cover separately.

Big-brand breakdown cover

Of course, you might be someone who prefers to buy your cover from those two behemoths of breakdown: AA and RAC. If that’s the case, you’re out of luck with the policies listed on Gocompare.com – at the time of the research AA and RAC weren’t listed under the options available.

Yet 50% of the add-on breakdown cover policies you could buy with car insurance were from AA and RAC, and in these cases you might actually get better value by tacking your cover onto your car insurance.

This is especially the case for the most comprehensive level of breakdown cover, including European breakdown – the average price for this cover from AA or RAC as an add-on to your insurance policy was £110.49, compared with £276.18 when bought direct from these two providers.

Open up your options

That’s quite a saving, but of course your insurer won’t necessarily have the option of adding on breakdown cover from AA or RAC – in which case you’ll need to buy your cover as an add-on policy, or reconsider those smaller breakdown cover providers, who could offer you a better deal for a very comparable level of service.

With savings of up to 62%, you might well decide it’s well worth going for a smaller company, without the big-brand stickers on the side of the truck.

Back to basics

If you’re only after the most basic breakdown cover to get you out of a mechanical tight spot, the research suggests that you’re probably better off buying your cover separately from your car insurance.

For roadside-only cover, prices as an add-on to insurance ranged from £25 to £46.99. When buying breakdown cover as a standalone product, even when including AA and RAC’s prices, the cost was from £17.85 to £27.

Compare and save

Of course, what the research all really highlights is that you should check all the options when buying breakdown cover rather than just making an assumption that a package deal with your car insurance will be a bargain.

See what your insurer's offering, but then take five minutes to compare prices for standalone deals too – then select the right cover for you.

As Gocompare.com motoring spokesperson Matt Oliver says: “When looking for a breakdown product – either as a standalone product or as part of a bundle of car insurance add-ons – consider what level of cover is best for your needs, whether that’s recovery, home start or European cover.

“Compare, if applicable, what the insurer is offering and also compare what standalone prices are available on a price comparison website.”