What are the different types of breakdown cover?


Let’s break down breakdown cover

Breakdown cover is there to help you out if the unthinkable happens and, well, your car breaks down. It's normally separate to a car insurance policy, which is designed for accidents, although some car insurance policies may come with it included or as an add-on. Some bank accounts, insurance policies or credit cards might also offer breakdown cover as an added extra.


There are five types of breakdown cover to choose from. We’ll help to explain these…

car without wheels

Five types of breakdown cover:

  • At home
  • Roadside assistance
  • National recovery
  • Onward journey
  • EU cover

At home

This covers you if you break down at, or very nearby, your home. Not sure if you need this? It’s worth imagining if you broke down and you had to get to work, could you hop on a train or would you be stranded?

dolls house

Roadside assistance

This will offer assistance by the side of the road if you were to break down whilst on your travels. If your vehicle can’t be fixed then and there, this type of cover will usually offer a trip to a nearby garage.

roadside truck

National recovery

Just like roadside assistance, but your car be taken almost anywhere in the UK. Pretty handy if you’re often driving a long way from home.

recovery block

Onward journey

This will help you to keep on going on your journey, with solutions such as a replacement car.

yellow car

EU cover

Normally a bundle of all other features, just designed for when you’re abroad. Taking the car on holiday? Then this can be useful to keep you insured while you’re abroad. If you tend to rent a car abroad, maybe not so much.

an on pisa

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What is not covered?

Most policies won’t protect you from human error, such as:


  • Leaving your lights on
  • Losing your keys
  • Running out of petrol
  • Filling up with the wrong fuel
  • A bad dress sense

Me or my car?

For all types of breakdown cover, you can choose if the policy is tied to you, no matter what car you drive (known as 'personal cover'), or tied to a vehicle, no matter who drives it (known as 'vehicle cover').

family car

Know your policy limits

Remember that all policies will have different limits – such as the number of call-outs you can make in policy duration, the weight your vehicle can be, and whether or not wheel changes are included.


Most policies will automatically pay out for any service you need (though there may be an excess charge). However, some policies will contract out the recovery work and may expect you to pay up front and claim back via your policy. Make sure you know which one you have.


Don’t forget

Your breakdown cover policy won’t activate for at least 24 hours after purchase, and may only provide partial cover for up to thirty days.

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