Do I Need Car Breakdown Cover?

Written by Danny Collins
Last updated: June 9, 2023

When looking for a used automobile, one of the most important things to consider is whether or not you need a car breakdown cover. This coverage can be extremely helpful if your car breaks down while driving, but it can also be expensive. This post will discuss a car breakdown cover and help you decide whether or not you need it.

Many people forego breakdown coverage because they believe it to be an unnecessary cost. However, if you break down and have to call for help without coverage, the expense will likely outweigh the price of a comprehensive plan–not to mention added stress. Breakdown cover is essential if you rely on your car to get to work or school or live in a rural area where help may be far away.

What Is Breakdown Cover?

Car breakdown cover is a service that will come to your aid if your car breaks down. This can include flat tires, engine trouble, and other issues. Most plans will tow your car to the nearest repair shop or service station, and some may even cover the cost of repairs.

You can buy breakdown cover in one of two ways: as part of your car insurance or as a standalone policy. Remember that policies are also known colloquially as breakdown and recovery insurance. In some cases, banks include breakdown cover perks with their accounts–so before you spend money on duplicate coverage, check to see if you’re already insured.

What Are the Different Types of Car Breakdown Covers?

If you have car insurance, the help you receive after an accident will depend on your purchase coverage. Let’s look at some types of assistance usually included in a policy.

  • Roadside assistance: If you have trouble on the road, call your insurer for roadside assistance. A mechanic will come to you and try to fix your automobile at the side of the road. They’ll usually tow it to a nearby garage if they can’t repair it. Roadside assistance typically has some restrictions, such as being a certain distance from home or having specific types of coverage.
  • At-home assistance: If your car won’t start while you’re at home or very close, most policies will allow you to call for help and get the car fixed there. This service is often called ‘home start’.
  • National recovery: If you can’t fix your automobile at the roadside, we’ll tow it to any location in the UK that’s convenient for you.
  • Onward travel: If your car becomes damaged beyond repair while you’re on the road, these policies will help finance alternative transportation to reach your destination. This coverage typically includes taxis, rental cars, and hotel stays.
  • European breakdown cover: If your automobile breaks down while driving in Europe, we will come to your rescue. (Be sure to check that the country you’re travelling to is included in our coverage.)

How Does Car Breakdown Cover Work?

When you have car trouble, your next steps will depend on the severity of the issue and your breakdown coverage. However, in most cases, you’ll want to pull over and call your insurance company. The representative you speak to will likely ask for your location so they can dispatch a tow truck or mechanic as needed.

Always keep your policy provider’s contact information in your phone and car, as well as any policy-related account numbers or codes. This way, you’ll be prepared in the event of a breakdown.

Do I Need A Car Breakdown Cover?

Now, after we looked at the car breakdown cover and how it works, you might wonder if you need it. Maybe you are one of those who believe that it is an unnecessary expense. So, let’s see when you need it and when you don’t. Here are some factors to consider:

Your car’s age and condition

If your vehicle is starting to show its age, you may want to consider a comprehensive protection plan. Newer cars are less likely to break down than older ones, but as they rack up more miles and get closer to the end of their life expectancy, they become at greater risk for breaking down. They’re also more likely to break down at home instead of on the road, so many drivers of older cars choose higher levels of breakdown cover that account for this increased risk.

Please remember that some breakdown service providers may only cover newer model cars. So, if you have an older car, please review the policy terms to confirm your car qualifies for coverage.

Your location

If you reside in a rural area, it may take longer for help to arrive if you have car trouble. In this case, breakdown coverage for your car can give you peace of mind. You want help to be on its way as quick as possible so you’re not stuck outside in bad weather! 

Your driving habits

If you frequently drive long distances or in bad weather, you’re at a higher risk of breaking down. You’ll need roadside assistance or be towed to a garage. You may consider a national recovery policy if you frequently drive in remote areas. This way, if you can’t fix your car at the side of the road, we’ll tow it to any location in the UK.

You are based in Europe

If you drive in Europe often, it’s a good idea to have a policy covering breakdowns on the continent. That way, if something happens and you need to call for help, we will be there for you so your car can get back on the road or- if necessary- make sure you get home safely. With European breakdown cover, breakdowns are one less worry while travelling, so you can relax and enjoy the journey.

There’s no single answer that fits everyone. A breakdown cover assures you that if something happens to your car, you must contact your provider and help. If you don’t have coverage, you would need to take out emergency coverage or find a garage nearby that can assist you.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does car breakdown cover typically include?

The specific coverage can vary depending on the provider and the level of coverage you choose. However, most breakdown cover policies include services like roadside assistance, towing, recovery to a garage, alternative transportation, and sometimes even accommodation or onward travel costs.

Roadside assistance involves a professional mechanic coming to your location and attempting to fix the problem on the spot. If the issue cannot be resolved immediately, your vehicle may be towed to a nearby garage for repairs. Some policies also offer alternative transportation options, such as a replacement vehicle or public transportation reimbursement if your car cannot be fixed promptly.


Can’t I just rely on my car insurance policy?

While some car insurance policies may offer limited breakdown cover as an add-on or as part of a comprehensive policy, it’s important to review the terms and coverage. Often, car insurance policies may not provide the same level of assistance as dedicated breakdown cover.

Car insurance primarily focuses on accidents and damage to your vehicle, while breakdown cover specialises in providing immediate support and roadside assistance when your car breaks down due to mechanical or electrical issues. It’s worth considering a standalone breakdown cover policy for comprehensive support in case of breakdowns.


How much does a car breakdown cover cost?

The cost of car breakdown cover varies depending on several factors, including the level of cover, your location, the type of vehicle, and the provider. Basic cover can start from as low as £20-30 per year, while more comprehensive packages can cost upwards of £100 or more annually. The level of coverage and additional services, such as home assistance or European coverage, will also affect the price. It’s advisable to compare different providers and their offerings to find the best coverage for your needs and budget. Consider factors like the reputation of the provider, the extent of coverage provided, customer reviews, and any additional benefits offered.


Can I get a breakdown cover for any vehicle?

Yes, breakdown cover is available for a wide range of vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, vans, and even motorhomes. Providers typically offer different policies tailored to specific vehicle types, so you can find the appropriate cover for your mode of transportation. Whether you have a personal vehicle, a company car, or even a classic car, you can usually find a breakdown cover that suits your needs.


Does breakdown cover include home assistance?

Most breakdown cover policies offer home assistance as an optional add-on. This means that if your vehicle fails to start or breaks down at your home address, the breakdown service will come out to assist you. Adding home assistance to your policy is particularly useful if you rely heavily on your vehicle for commuting or have an older car that may have trouble starting. With home assistance, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ll be covered even if your car doesn’t start in your own driveway.


Is breakdown cover limited to the UK only?

Breakdown cover policies typically provide assistance within the UK, but many providers also offer European breakdown cover. If you plan on driving abroad, it’s essential to check whether your policy includes European coverage or if you need to purchase additional protection for travelling outside the UK. European breakdown cover ensures that you receive the same level of support and assistance when driving on the continent, allowing you to enjoy your journey without worrying about potential breakdowns.


Can I get a breakdown cover if my car is old or has a history of breakdowns?

Yes, most breakdown cover providers offer policies regardless of the age or history of your vehicle. However, it’s important to note that some providers may have restrictions or additional terms for older cars or those with a significant history of breakdowns.

When applying for breakdown cover, you may be required to disclose certain information about your vehicle, such as its age, mileage, and any pre-existing conditions. While these factors may affect the cost of coverage, it’s still possible to find a suitable policy that meets your needs. It’s recommended to check with different providers to find one that offers coverage for your specific situation.


Can I get immediate breakdown assistance if I don’t have coverage?

If you don’t have a breakdown cover and experience a breakdown, you can still contact a breakdown service for assistance. However, you will likely be charged for the services provided, and the costs can be significantly higher compared to having a breakdown cover policy in place. The fees can vary depending on the type of service required, the distance travelled by the breakdown service, and any necessary repairs. It’s generally more cost-effective and convenient to have cover before an unexpected breakdown occurs. Investing in breakdown cover ensures that you have access to prompt assistance and can save you from potential financial strain during an already stressful situation.