Breakdown cover can be a lifesaver, providing you with assistance if your car breaks down in the middle of your journey. We look into what breakdown cover includes, whether it’s worth having and which breakdown cover to choose.

Do I have breakdown cover?

Unlike car insurance, breakdown cover is not a legal requirement. Breakdown cover is rarely included in a standard car insurance policy. There may be instances where a provider promotionally offers it as a free extra, but it’s not common. You can also buy breakdown cover as a standalone product.

You may have taken out breakdown cover as an additional add-on to your car insurance policy. If you’re unsure, you can check your policy details or contact your insurer to confirm.

How much is breakdown cover?

Payments for breakdown cover work similarly to car insurance. You can either pay via monthly instalments or an annual fee, depending on your preference. You may find that the overall cost is cheaper if you pay for the year upfront.

The cost of a breakdown cover policy will vary depending on how much coverage you want. Generally, the more you pay, the more comprehensive your coverage will be. But it comes down to what protection you realistically need. Policies that provide lower protection can cost as little as £5 per month, or around £60 a year. The more add-ons you choose to include, the more the price will rise.

Which car breakdown cover is best?

There are various types of breakdown cover. Not every provider will use the same terminology, so don’t forget to read the options carefully. Some providers will allow you to ‘build’ a policy, whereas others will have a selection of predesigned policies. If you drive an electric vehicle, be aware that most providers require you to take out a specialised policy.

Roadside assistance is the most basic form of breakdown cover. If your vehicle breaks down whilst driving, a technician will come to the scene to fix it. If they can’t repair your vehicle there and then, they’ll transport your vehicle to a garage. Typically, you must be a minimum distance away from home before a technician will come out. Nationwide recovery offers the same perks but will transport you and your passengers anywhere in the country if your car is out of action.

You can often choose whether you want ‘personal cover’ or ‘car cover’. Personal cover allows you to call a technician out for a breakdown of any car you may be driving. Car cover will only cover the vehicle you register on the policy.

Different providers will offer different add-ons. Some common ones include:

  • Unlimited call-outs: basic levels of breakdown cover may limit how many call-outs you can have per year. This add-on removes any limit
  • At-home recovery: if you break down at your home address, you can still call a technician out
  • Tyre replacement: roadside tyre replacement at no extra cost (other than the initial add-on price)
  • Key replacement: free replacement of your vehicle’s key if you lose it (excluding the initial add-on price)
  • Onward travel: your insurance company will give you a replacement vehicle if a technician cannot repair your car on the scene
  • European cover: extends your breakdown cover to include driving in Europe

Is breakdown cover worth it?

If you use your car frequently, especially for long journeys, breakdown cover can be a nice reassurance. The same applies if you often travel overnight, where getting help can be more difficult. Your car’s warranty may have run out, or the vehicle may be an older model or second-hand. In these instances, breakdown cover is likely a good idea.

Without breakdown cover, you can call a local garage if your vehicle unexpectedly breaks down. But the garages nearby may be closed if it’s late at night or early in the morning.If they are open, the cost of a mechanic’s assistance will be much higher than with a breakdown policy. Another option is to apply for ‘instant cover’ with a breakdown provider.The provider will still send out a mechanic to help you, but often for a high call-out price. You may also have to wait longer, as existing policyholders will likely have priority.

The best breakdown cover

There is no real benefit to adding breakdown cover to your car insurance compared to a standalone breakdown policy. Many car insurance providers outsource their breakdown cover from dedicated breakdown companies. So the service is similar either way.

The best breakdown cover is a policy that suits your needs. Consider the state of your vehicle and your driving habits to determine how much cover you need.

Always check customer reviews for your prospective provider. That way you can find out how satisfied existing customers are.