It’s happened to all of us at some point in our lives – a breakdown in the middle of nowhere or on a busy road far from home. 99% of us have no idea how to fix the problem or how to get home when this happens. It’s only at times like these we appreciate the value of Breakdown Cover and how integral its become to owning a car. It’s not that cars break down more often these days, in fact its the exact opposite, but everything breaks down at some point and people want the piece of mind provided by the man from the AA or RAC!
When it comes to choosing who to buy Breakdown Cover from it’s usually a matter of who can offer the best premium and perhaps the best freebies. It is however important to understand the options available and this is where our quick guide comes in handy.
Types of Breakdown Cover
There are two common types of Breakdown Cover.
Automatic Policy – This is the most common type of Breakdown Cover and is a fairly standard policy that charges you an annual fee and covers you for a certain number of call-out’s per year. Your vehicle will be fixed and you will be charged nothing for the call out. Its a convenient option for most people and only fails to cover you if your car is an old banger that needs fixed every other week.
Insurance Policy – The second type of Breakdown Cover is often a cheaper “pay as you go” option that works like a traditional insurance policy. When you contact your provider they will pass the call to a local company. You will pay for the call out and recovery and then claim the money back from your provider. The reason its cheaper is that its a bit more work on your part.
Your Options Explained.
Roadside Assistance is the most basic for of Breakdown Cover. If you breakdown away from home your breakdown company will send a mechanic to wherever you are. Most companies won’t come out if you are less than a quarter of a mile from your home. Hopefully they will fix the problem there and then but if this isn’t possible they will take you and your car to the nearest garage or back to your home, depending which is closer. Each company and each policy varies as to how far they will tow you and what type of problems are covered for free.
Vehicle Recovery is usually offered on top of the basic policy as an extra premium to ensure you, your passengers and your car are towed to anywhere in the UK.
Home Assistance is another option in case your car doesn’t start one morning or comes to a stop just as your setting off from home. Most companies cover you while you are less than quarter of a mile from hoe and will either come immediately or at a later time if more convenient for you.
Full Cover allows you to extend your policy to include onward travel. This normally includes a replacement vehicle for a set period of time, overnight accommodation while your car is being repaired or alternative transport costs. Each company provide slightly different cover so be sure to check out the details to ensure you sign up to the right policy for you.
Cover Yourself Or Your Car?
When you ask for a quote you’ll be asked whether you want the recovery to cover the driver or the car. If you get cover for yourself it means you are covered in any car (useful if you often drive another family members car). If you choose to cover your car then the car is covered even if another driver is behind the wheel when it breaks down.
Best Breakdown Cover Deals
The cheapest policy available from the RAC is £29.99 per year. This is a basic policy that offers “Roadside Rescue.” It covers breakdowns more than 1/4 mile from your home and is available 24 hours a day. It includes a 10 mile tow to a local garage or destination of your choice for you and up to 6 passengers if the car cannot be fixed at the roadside. There are often cashback deals available which bring the cost down further and more comprehensive policies are available for both you as an individual and your vehicle.
StartRescue offer a range of policies from £16.45 for the most basic cover to £58.50 for their most comprehensive option. The basic policy covers breakdowns more than 1 mile from your home and is available 24 hours a day. It includes a 10 mile tow to a local garage or destination of your choice for you and up to 6 passengers if the car cannot be fixed at the roadside. Their comprehensive policies offer everything from European Roadside Assistance to National Recovery and Home Assistance and is one of the best comprehensive policies we’ve seen.
The cheapest policy is from £25 per year although only around 10% achieve this quote (it takes into account the age of your car). Most people will likely pay around £30 for their basic policy (Rescue) which offers Roadside Assistance 24 hours per day. Their Rescue Plus option starts from £35 and include Home Assistance. They advise that 40% of all reported breakdown occur at home which makes this an attractive “semi comprehensive” option. Their comprehensive policy (excluding European coverage) starts from £60 per year.
Kwik Fit Insurance
A newcomer to the breakdown cover market, Kwik Fit offers a basic vehicle only roadside cover from £15.93 per year. This policy is only available for cars that are less than 5 years old and breakdowns have to be more than 1 mile from your home. They offer 1 hour of roadside assistance after which time, if the problem has not been fixed, your car will be taken to the nearest garage. They also offer a Personal Cover policy which will protect you as both a driver or a passenger in another vehicle for £30.94 per year – a good option if you often drive or travel in another car.
The AA’s basic breakdown cover package costs £29 per year and provides Roadside Assistance for breakdowns more than 1/4 mile from your home. If they can’t resolve the problem at roadside they will tow your car to the nearest garage. The policy covers only 1 call out per year. A better option might be their standard “Breakdown Membership” which costs £39 per year and has no limits on call outs. If you choose to upgrade this standard option with Home Assistance, National Recovery or Onward Travel coverage you will receive gift vouchers between £20 and £50 for Amazon or M&S.