Compare breakdown cover that gets you back on the road when you break down.
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What is breakdown cover?
Breakdown cover gives you roadside assistance if your vehicle breaks down, with a trained professional on-hand to fix your car and get you back on the road. Common reasons for breakdowns include flat batteries, damaged tyres and electrical problems. If your car can’t be fixed at the roadside, you’ll usually be towed to a nearby garage.
When it comes to breakdowns there are two pretty safe bets – they’ll happen at the most inconvenient times and in the most inconvenient places. Having the right cover means that when your car, van, motorbike or scooter fails unexpectedly, you’ll be able to get it back up and running in as little time as possible.
What’s covered by a breakdown policy?
Finding the best breakdown cover for you will depend on what you need it for – with varying levels of cover available at different price points.
The main levels of cover you need to think about are:
Roadside assistance: this is the most basic level of cover, where a mobile mechanic will try to fix your vehicle at the roadside if you break down during a journey. If your car can’t be fixed, you’ll typically be towed to the nearest garage.
At home recovery: sometimes known as ‘home start’, this gives you assistance if you break down at home, or very close by, typically between a quarter of a mile and a mile from your home address.
National recovery: as well as getting your roadside assistance, this level of cover allows you to be towed to any location in the UK.
Onward travel: this will help you continue your journey and get to where you need to be, if your car can’t be fixed at the roadside. You could be covered for a courtesy car, or even the cost of overnight hotel accommodation or taking public transport.
European recovery: if you’re holidaying in Europe (in the EU) by car and need breakdown recovery, this will give you cover for your trip. At Compare the Market you can also compare cheap European breakdown cover for vans (for non-commercial use) and bikes.
All breakdown providers offer an emergency helpline and breakdown assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.Different types of breakdown cover
Does breakdown insurance cover me or my vehicle?
Breakdown insurance can cover you or your vehicle, it’s up to you.
With this option, a named person is covered rather than a specific car. You’ll be covered in any vehicle that meets the policy conditions, and you can claim whether you’re the driver or a passenger. You can also extend this kind of cover to people who live at the same address as you, usually up to a limit of four additional people. This type of cover can be useful if you regularly travel in different cars or have several cars in your household.
This type of breakdown insurance is applied to a specific car, van or bike – so anyone could be driving it when it breaks down and still be covered. Vehicle breakdown cover is most useful if you only drive one vehicle, or you have a family car shared by several members of your household.
What extras can I add to my breakdown cover?
There are several optional extras you might be able to add to your standard breakdown cover for an additional cost. These vary between breakdown providers, and you’ll usually need to arrange for these extras separately.
- Tyre replacement cover – Ideal if you get a puncture.
- Battery replacement – Covers the cost of a replacement car battery if yours goes flat.
- Key replacement – Some standard breakdown policies will cover you if your keys are stolen, lost or damaged. But if not, this add-on could be useful.
- Wrong fuel – If you’ve filled your car with the wrong fuel and it breaks down, you’ll need this specific cover.
- Special vehicles – You might need a specific policy if you’re driving with a trailer or caravan attached to your car. Always check with your provider before you travel.
- Family and multi-car breakdown cover – This covers multiple drivers sharing the same address as you. Multi-car policies allow you to add a specified number of different cars (at the same address) to the same policy.
Which breakdown cover providers do we compare?
We compare prices from the following providers to help make sure you get a great-value deal. See the options available to you in one go and get quotes in less than 2 minutes**.
|2Gether Insurance||Essentials by RAC|
|Cover My||Dynamo Cover|
|Eversure Insurance||Green Flag|
|Nova Direct||QDOS Breakdown|
**On average, it can take less than 2 minutes to complete a breakdown cover quote through Compare the Market, based on data in November 2020.
Frequently asked questions
What you need to know about breaking down during the coronavirus pandemic
The UK government has introduced measures requiring you to stay at home, except for very limited purposes, like essential shopping and exercise.
If you do break down during an essential journey, breakdown service providers will still respond to call-outs, but many have rules in line with social distancing measures.
If you’ve been exposed to, or are experiencing, symptoms of the coronavirus, you should tell your breakdown service when making the initial call.
Please note: This information was correct at the time of publication on 9 March 2021, but, because of the impact of COVID-19, things are changing rapidly. We aim to keep this page updated, but check with your insurance provider or potential provider directly to confirm any details.
Could I already have breakdown cover through another policy?
Breakdown cover might come as an added extra with your car insurance, or even with some current accounts or other financial products. It may also be included as part of a package, say if you’ve recently bought a car from a dealership – so be sure to check you’re not searching for a new policy unnecessarily.
If you have breakdown cover through another policy, check the policy documents carefully to make sure it offers everything you need.
Should I buy the cheapest breakdown cover?
Price is, of course, one deciding factor when it comes to buying breakdown cover. But automatically opting for the cheapest policy might not give you the level of cover you really need.
For example, if you’ve broken down far from home and don’t have national recovery, you’ll need to find a way to get your vehicle home, or fork out for somewhere to stay while it’s being repaired locally.
Another consideration is your policy excess. Although more commonly used for car insurance, around half of the breakdown cover policies you can compare with us have an excess charge. Choosing a policy that has an excess generally means that you’ll pay less of a premium at the point of purchase.
Can I pay for my breakdown cover monthly or annually?
With the breakdown policies that we compare, you have to pay an annual membership fee. A small number of policies let you pay monthly, but usually it’s cheaper to pay annually and avoid paying interest.
What should you do if you break down?
First, be prepared before you set off on any journey. Keep your policy information in your vehicle or easily-located on your smartphone. Then follow these steps on what to do if you break down:
- Park somewhere safe and turn on your hazard warning lights to let other drivers know you have a problem. Keep your sidelights on if it’s dark or visibility is poor.
- Get out of your vehicle through the passenger door rather than the driver door so you don’t step into traffic passing on the right.
- Stay a safe distance from the carriageway and hard shoulder. And put on fluorescent clothing, if carrying in your vehicle, to make you more visible to other road users.
- Call your breakdown provider to let them know where you are so they can send out a mechanic. If you’re not sure of your location, look out for road signs or landmarks. Some providers have an app you can use to pinpoint your location straight away and keep you informed with updates on your mechanic’s progress, while you wait.
Can I claim straight after taking out a breakdown cover policy?
In most cases, cover will start 24 hours after your payment has been accepted. But this can differ between breakdown cover providers, so check your policy conditions before you buy.
Can I cancel my breakdown cover policy?
When you take out a policy, by law you’ll have a minimum 14-day ‘cooling off’ period, during which you can cancel your breakdown cover without any charges. But be aware that if you’ve used the service within those 14 days and decide to cancel, you won’t be given a refund.
After the cooling off period, if you want to cancel your policy early, you might be charged a cancellation or administration fee. Check your policy details to see what charges there are for early cancellation.
What happens if my vehicle can’t be repaired at the roadside?
It depends on the nature of the problem and your level of breakdown cover. But if the mechanic can’t fix the issue there and then, your policy provider will usually arrange to tow you and your car to the nearest garage.
What happens if a family member breaks down?
It depends on your policy. If you take out personal cover, you can arrange to have multiple members of your family covered on the one policy, if you all live at the same address.
Will I be covered if my car breaks down at home?
If ‘home start’ recovery is included as part of your breakdown cover, you’ll be able to get assistance at home. Generally, policies that include home recovery will provide cover up to a quarter of a mile from your home. So if you break down just up the road, you’ll be able to get help.
How many call-outs can I make in a year?
It depends on the breakdown policy you choose. With some, you can make up to five call-outs in a year, while those that offer unlimited cover let you call as many times as you need, usually for a higher upfront premium.
Will I be covered if my van breaks down?
Most breakdown providers will also cover vans, if they’re under 3.5 tonnes. If you use your van to get to work, it’s worth taking out van breakdown cover. This could help you get back on the road sooner with minimal disruption to your working day.
Unfortunately, Compare the Market don’t currently compare van breakdown cover for business and commercial use. Breakdown cover compared with us is only for commuting and private personal use.
Will I be covered if my motorcycle breaks down?
Most providers will also cover motorcycles. You can also buy motorbike breakdown cover, which offers the same levels and features as a car breakdown policy.
What isn’t covered by breakdown insurance?
t’s always important to read your policy terms and conditions to find out what exclusions there might be. For example, breakdown cover might not include:
- repeat call-outs for a recurring fault
- routine maintenance
- roadside assistance for an accident or breakdown that involves the emergency services
There may also be conditions attached if you break down on private land or with animals.
What if I break down with my pets in the vehicle?
If you break down on a motorway, where possible leave your pets inside the car for safety. If you have to take them out, keep dogs on a lead. If your car can’t be fixed by the road, animals can usually either travel in the recovery vehicle’s cab or in your car if it’s being towed. If you have transferable pet travel carriers or restraints, it will help make sure your pet is transported safely.
When calling your breakdown provider for help, give them a heads-up if you have pets in your car with you, so the mechanic knows what to expect. Most breakdown engineers will try to accommodate pets, just try to keep them as calm and secure as possible.
What happens if the breakdown company damages my car?
If your car is damaged during the breakdown service, you should point out the damage immediately. Take photos, write down what’s happened and report it to the breakdown provider straight away. You’ll then need to contact the provider to find out how they can resolve the issue. If you’re not satisfied with their response, you’ll need to make a formal complaint. Procedures for doing this will be set out in your policy.
Ultimately, if things can’t be put right to your satisfaction, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service to ask for their help in settling your case.
What happens if I break down without breakdown cover?
If you break down and you don’t have cover, it’s possible to get instant cover with some breakdown insurance providers. This can be expensive though, as you may be charged a one-off fee for instant membership.
There’s the option of calling Green Flag, which offers a breakdown service to non-members. Their number is 0800 400 600. Alternatively you can:
- Call a local garage to see if someone can come and tow your vehicle to the nearest mechanic. Be warned though, this could end up being very expensive. Also, bear in mind, this is only an option during garage opening hours.
- If you’re not far from home, you could call friends or family. But again, this might be an issue if you break down in the middle of the night.
Will I still be covered now we’ve left the EU?
Yes, Brexit shouldn’t affect European cover. As long as you have European breakdown cover you’ll have the same level of protection as before, unless your provider has told you otherwise.
If you’re planning a trip to Europe, it’s important to make sure you arrange breakdown cover for Europe before you leave the UK. You’ll also need a Green Card, which you can get from your car insurance provider. And be aware that breakdown cover isn’t a replacement for car insurance.
Can a vehicle be too old for breakdown cover?
Some breakdown providers will cover vehicles of all ages. When comparing breakdown cover, you should check the policy terms and conditions to see if there are any limits.
Will I be covered if I’m towing a caravan?
Most breakdown providers will cover you for towing a caravan, although weight and size restrictions usually apply. Go above these and you’ll need additional cover before setting off.
Some breakdown providers offer specific breakdown cover for caravans and motorhomes if you’re a member of a caravanning club, like The Camping and Caravanning Club UK. These policies often offer a number of extra benefits, including no weight or size restrictions.
How can I find a good deal on breakdown cover?
Compare breakdown cover with us and you could save a lot of time (and money). Just tell us some details about yourself and your vehicle, and we’ll give you a list of deals to weigh up so you can choose the cover that suits you best.
You can filter your results by policy type and include optional add-ons to find cover that suits your needs. When you find cover you’re interested in, just follow the link to the provider’s website to get your deal.