We drive an average of 800,000 miles in a lifetime, which means there’s a good chance you’ll need to call on breakdown and recovery services at some point. But despite the risk, around one quarter of drivers don’t have breakdown cover in place.
Here, we explore what breakdown cover looks like, how it works, what it costs, and, more importantly, whether it’s something you need.
- What does a typical breakdown policy cover?
- How does breakdown cover work?
- How much does breakdown cover typically cost?
- Do I need breakdown cover?
Policies vary depending on the specific terms set out by your provider. Broadly, you’ll be able to choose from four main types of breakdown insurance:
If your vehicle won’t start while it’s at home (or within a certain radius of your home), your provider will send someone to help.
This provides a basic level of cover, so if your car, motorhome or campervan breaks down, a mechanic will try to fix your vehicle by the road. They’ll tow it to the nearest garage if they can’t.
If your vehicle can’t be repaired at the roadside, your provider will arrange for it to be taken to a garage convenient to you.
If your vehicle can’t be fixed at the roadside, your provider will help you continue your journey. This could include offering you a courtesy car, taxi, or reimbursing you for any public transport you take. Some providers may also cover the cost of overnight accommodation if needed.
Can I add additional features to breakdown cover?
Most providers will let you add-on extra features for an increase in your premium. Options include additional cover for:
- Lost keys
- Battery or tyre replacement
- Trailers or caravans
- European breakdown cover
Your provider will have a helpline which is the number you should call in the first instance. They’ll then take you through the options available based on your cover level.
Some policies are set at a personal level. This means that the vehicle you’re in will be covered regardless of whether you’re the driver or a passenger. Other policies just cover the vehicle listed on the policy.
You can usually buy breakdown cover as part of your car, motorhome, campervan or self-drive hire insurance policy – in fact, most insurers will ask if you want to include this when you buy or renew cover. You can also buy breakdown cover as a standalone policy after you’ve bought your vehicle insurance. It’s also worth knowing that breakdown services don’t have to be bought from the same place as your vehicle insurance.
Does breakdown cover include more than one vehicle?
It can do, but this will depend on what you’ve agreed with your provider. Some policies will let you include other vehicles on your policy, but there might be conditions. For example, both vehicles may need to be registered at the same address.
Does a breakdown affect your insurance?
Claiming for a breakdown doesn’t affect your vehicle insurance. The two policies are treated separately, even if you bought them at the same time from the same provider.
Can I get breakdown cover for my classic or vintage car?
Not all providers will agree to cover you if your car is over 10 or 15 years old. You may have to pay slightly more for the policy, if they do. This is because older cars have experienced more wear and tear, increasing the risk of breaking down.
The cost will very much depend on the type of vehicle being covered, level of cover you choose, and whether or not you decide to add on any extra features. It’s important to compare policies, so you know exactly what’s included in the price. Some cheaper policies may have conditions and exclusions. In contrast, pricier policies could provide you with unlimited assistance and include more features as standard.
At Alan Boswell Group, you can buy breakdown cover for just £69 if you already have private car insurance with us, or you can add it on to your self-drive hire policy. Not only does this include unlimited call-outs, home start and onward travel, but you’re also covered if you drive in Europe.
Unlike car or motorhome insurance, breakdown cover is not something you need by law. Nevertheless, if you don’t have a policy and breakdown at the side of the road, it’ll be down to you to find and arrange a mechanic to come and help. If breakdown on the motorway and don’t have breakdown cover, the police will arrange for the vehicle to be recovered at a fixed cost of £150.
If you’re in an unfamiliar town, finding a mechanic could be hard – especially at weekends or on bank holidays.
You’ll also need to factor in any call-out charges, the cost of towing your vehicle to a garage if it can’t be fixed at the roadside, and onward travel. With all this in mind, breakdown cover offers a convenient and cost-effective solution.
If you purchase a new or second-hand car, it’s worth checking whether the dealer or manufacturer is providing breakdown cover as part of the sale. This could be for 3, 12 or 36 months.
Can you cancel your breakdown cover?
You’ll usually have a 14-day cooling off period. During this time, you’ll be able to cancel your breakdown cover, although there may be an admin fee to do this, depending on your provider.
You can still cancel your policy after the cooling off period but expect to pay a cancellation fee. You are also unlikely to receive a refund if a claim has already been made on the policy.
Is it better to include breakdown cover with car insurance?
There’s no right or wrong way to buy breakdown cover. Some drivers find it more convenient to buy it alongside their vehicle insurance and may be offered a discounted rate by their insurer for doing so.
Can you get breakdown cover when you’ve already broken down?
Some providers will let you buy breakdown cover if you’ve already broken down and need to use it straightaway. If you choose to do this, it’s worth noting that you’ll usually pay more compared to buying it in advance.
Can you leave your car if it’s broken down?
You shouldn’t leave your vehicle unattended if you break down on a public road. In the first instance, you should try to reach safety – whether that’s a service station or the hard shoulder, and call your breakdown provider.
If you breakdown on the motorway, it’s advised that you stand away from your vehicle, preferably on higher ground.
Can you use someone else’s breakdown cover?
You might be able to if a person (physically in the broken-down vehicle) has personal cover, allowing them to claim for whatever vehicle they are in whether they’re the driver or not. There are two types of breakdown cover; one that covers the vehicle and one that covers the person.
If you have breakdown cover specifically linked to your vehicle, only the vehicle listed on the policy will be covered. If you have personal breakdown cover, the vehicle you’re in will be covered whether you’re the driver or a passenger.
Therefore, when taking out a policy it’s imperative you establish whether the cover is for the vehicle or for you. The policies we arrange via Call Assist cover the vehicle.
What scenarios does breakdown cover help with?
Your breakdown policy will set out the type of events and scenarios that are covered, so it’s worth double-checking what this says to avoid disappointment. Examples of what could be covered, depending on your policy, include:
- Replacement battery
- Tyre changing if tyres suffer a puncture
- Running out of petrol or diesel (if you have an electric car, breakdown services will usually top your car up with enough charge to get to a charging station)
Does breakdown cover include a cracked or shattered windscreen?
Not usually. Windscreen cover is typically offered as part of your car insurance policy rather than under breakdown cover.
Breakdown cover for peace of mind with Alan Boswell Group
Vehicles can break down for many reasons, but knowing you’ve got cover in place can put your mind at rest. At Alan Boswell Group, we recommend breakdown cover from Call Assist, who repair more than 75% of cars at the roadside – enabling you to continue on your journey. To find out more and how we can help, you can speak directly to a member of the team at 01603 649650.