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Car insurance with breakdown cover

No one wants to be stranded if their car suddenly dies. But few of us have cash to splash on extras at the moment.

So, is it possible to get car insurance with free breakdown cover? If not, is it worth adding as an optional extra? Here’s how to navigate the pros and cons of getting car insurance with breakdown cover.

No one wants to be stranded if their car suddenly dies. But few of us have cash to splash on extras at the moment.

So, is it possible to get car insurance with free breakdown cover? If not, is it worth adding as an optional extra? Here’s how to navigate the pros and cons of getting car insurance with breakdown cover.

Written by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
8 JUNE 2023
5 min read
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What do I get with breakdown cover?

Most of us are aware of the basics. Breakdown cover can get you back on the road if your car breaks down while you’re travelling or it won’t start outside your house. It’s not just old or unreliable cars that need it, though.

Breakdown cover could be a lifesaver if you ever find yourself with a flat battery, a burst tyre or if you’ve filled up with the wrong type of fuel. Adding it to your car insurance policy could save you time and money. 

Can I get car insurance with breakdown cover? 

Probably not, no. Breakdown cover isn’t usually included as standard with car insurance policies. That said, some providers might offer special deals or discounts if you bundle your breakdown cover and car insurance together.

Bear in mind that you may only get basic breakdown cover with these types of deals, though. So, it’s important to work out whether it’s really saving you money.

Providers regularly ask if you want to add breakdown cover to your policy – for an extra cost – when you take out car insurance. But you can buy breakdown cover as a standalone product.

It’s always a good idea to shop around and compare prices to track down the best-suited option for you. 

What are the advantages of getting car insurance and breakdown cover together?

  • Convenience – it’s often easier to have both on one policy. That way, you have only one company, one set of documents to deal with and one all-important renewal date.
  • Discount – some providers may offer cheaper breakdown cover if you combine it with a car insurance policy.

What are the disadvantages of combining breakdown cover with my car insurance?

  • It can sometimes be cheaper to buy car insurance and breakdown cover separately.
  • You might not get a choice of breakdown providers – for example, your car insurance provider might have partnered with AA, while you’d prefer to go with RAC or Green Flag.

Can I get free breakdown cover with my car insurance?

Some insurance providers advertise free breakdown cover with their policies. But the money usually comes from somewhere and you might find that the overall price of the insurance is higher as a result. 

You may also discover that they only include basic breakdown cover. This means you may have to pay for extra features like home start or national recovery.

Don’t get sucked in by a headline freebie. It’s always worth comparing. 

What types of breakdown cover are there?

The assumption – and it’s an understandable one – is that breakdown cover is all about the car. In fact, with this kind of policy, you can choose to protect either yourself or your vehicle. Here’s how it works:

Personal cover

This covers a named individual rather than a specific car. So, if you choose this option, you’ll be covered to drive any vehicle that meets the policy requirements. Personal cover can be useful if you regularly travel in different cars or have several cars in your household.

Vehicle cover

This covers a specific vehicle, which means anyone could be driving it when it breaks down and still get assistance. This type of policy might suit you if you only drive one vehicle or you and other members of your household share a car.

How much protection does breakdown cover offer?

Like any other insurance, that depends on your policy, so make sure you check the details if you want a particular level of cover. When you do, look out for these key features:

  • Roadside assistance – your car will be fixed at the roadside or a local garage.
  • Home start – you’ll be covered if your car won’t start at home.
  • National recovery – as well as roadside repair, you can be towed to a UK location.
  • Onward journey – includes transport to get you home if your car breaks down. It might even cover you for accommodation and car hire.
  • European recovery – offers cover if you’re driving in Europe.

If you decide to combine breakdown cover with your car insurance, make sure you’re covered for everything you need, especially if you’re on the road a lot.

What should I look for when buying breakdown cover?

  • Some new cars come with breakdown cover included, so double-check whether you already have it.
  • Check how long help will take to arrive if you did break down. Average times and maximum waits can vary wildly between providers, so if you can’t find that information on the insurance provider’s website, call and ask them.
  • Does the policy cover you abroad? You might need European breakdown cover. And do make sure that you’re covered for transport home. If you break down on a French motorway, for example, it’s a long way back.

Top tip 

Look at what’s included in your breakdown cover before signing up, as extra features could push up the price. Think about your driving habits – if you only drive locally, you may be happy with standard roadside assistance and local recovery. 

But if you drive around the UK a lot on business, for example, it might be worth paying extra for national recovery. Similarly, if you take your car to Europe often, European breakdown cover could be useful. 

How do I compare car insurance with breakdown cover?

When you compare with us, you’ll have the option of adding optional extras like breakdown cover to your quote.

You might also want to compare car insurance and breakdown cover separately to see which offers better value.

It only takes a few minutes to compare different quotes, so you could soon be out on the open road without a breakdown care in the world, safe in the knowledge that you’re paying the right premiums for the cover you need.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have breakdown cover?

You might already have breakdown cover through a packaged bank account, credit card or car warranty. Or you may be covered under a family or multi-car breakdown policy.

Check beforehand, as you may end up paying more for a car insurance policy with breakdown cover included when you don’t even need the extra cover. 

Do I get breakdown cover if I buy a new car?

Many new car dealers offer breakdown cover as part of the manufacturer’s warranty, but it will only last as long as the warranty is valid.

Will breakdown cover affect my no-claims bonus?

No, having breakdown cover won’t affect your no-claims bonus.

Even if you buy your car insurance with breakdown cover through the same insurance provider, they are two different policies. One is for car insurance, the other for breakdown assistance.

Is it cheaper to get separate breakdown cover?

It can sometimes be more cost-effective to buy breakdown cover and car insurance separately rather than bundling them together in one package.

We can help you compare both options to see which offers the level of cover you need. 

How many callouts can I make a year?

This will depend on your provider and the level of cover you choose. If you get free breakdown cover as part of a car insurance deal or with a new car, you might only be allowed one free call-out a year.

However, some providers may offer unlimited call-outs throughout the year. 

Can I get short-term breakdown cover for driving in Europe?

You should be able to take out a single-trip European breakdown policy.

This could work out cheaper than buying an annual policy if you’re not a frequent traveller. Check to make sure you’re not already covered for driving in Europe though.

What happens if I break down without breakdown cover?

If your car develops a fault but you haven’t got a breakdown policy, you can still get help. Some providers will let you buy instant breakdown cover and will send a mechanic out to take a look at your vehicle.

However, this could be very expensive. You might be charged a one-off emergency fee for instant membership and it’ll be a separate policy to your car insurance. 

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Kate Hughes - Insurance and finance expert

As an award-winning journalist, author and broadcast commentator, Kate has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She’s the former Money Editor for The Independent. Her work has appeared across the UK broadsheets as well as a number of international titles. Kate brings her financial expertise to inform her readers on ways to save money. She’s also written a book. ‘Going Zero: One Family’s Journey to Zero Waste and a Greener Lifestyle’ is available now.

Learn more about Kate

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