What Breakdown Cover is Best for Me?

Even the most reliable of vehicles can run into difficulties when out on the road. If you break down while driving, you'll want to get your car's problems fixed as soon as possible and find the support you need to get moving again. In this article, we'll talk you through the essentials of car breakdown cover, what options are available and what you should think about before making your choice.

Why should I get breakdown cover?

After you’ve paid for your car and settled on an insurance policy, paying out even more for breakdown cover might seem like an unnecessary extra expense. But when you’re in a fix, emergency roadside assistance could be a lifesaver. Even if you never have to use it, it’s definitely worth getting for the peace of mind it’ll give you. You’re paying for a dedicated breakdown team to come out whenever you need them, and they’ll either solve your car’s problem or tow you to somewhere you can get further help.

What types of car breakdown cover are there?

Most recovery companies’ car breakdown cover packages are split into two different types – personal breakdown cover and vehicle breakdown cover:

  • Personal breakdown cover means that you’ll be able to get roadside assistance on any vehicle, regardless of whether you’re the driver or just a passenger. This is generally the most expensive type of breakdown cover, but it provides you with the most coverage.
  • Vehicle breakdown cover applies to a single vehicle. You’ll be able to get assistance for that car, whoever happens to be driving it. This is the cheaper coverage option.

What breakdown cover services are available?

If your car does break down, the level of assistance you receive from your breakdown cover will depend on what package you’ve chosen.

  • Basic roadside assistance. The cheapest coverage available, this will pay for a specialist vehicle to come and tow your car to the nearest appropriate garage. They’ll take you there to get further help if they’re unable to fix your problem on the spot.
  • National or recovery cover. For a little more money, you have the option for you, your passengers and your car to be taken to a destination of your choice, instead of just a garage.
  • Home start. This is an extra feature of many packages, covering any breakdowns that happen close to your home. Many providers won’t offer any assistance if you’re within one mile of your home unless you’ve paid for the home start service.
  • Onward travel. This will cover any extra costs that you may incur as a result of your car breaking down. This includes accommodation that you might need while your vehicle is out of action, as well as the cost of hiring another car.

Where can I buy breakdown cover?

There are a number of companies you can contact or websites that you can visit if you want to get car breakdown cover.

  • The AA (Automobile Association). The largest breakdown assistance company in the UK, the AA was first launched back in 1905. They have over 15 million members and around 3,000 dedicated vehicles to assist drivers in difficulty.
  • The RAC (Royal Automobile Club). Even older than the AA, the RAC is the UK’s second-largest roadside assistance company and has been offering trusted services to motorists for over a century.
  • Price comparison websites. Sites like CompareTheMarket or MoneySupermarket will allow you to compare breakdown cover packages from different companies. If you’re not sold on AA breakdown cover or RAC breakdown cover, Green Flag is another major UK competitor. Many credit cards, insurance policies and other financial services also come bundled with roadside assistance packages.

How much will breakdown cover cost me?

Car breakdown cover is usually relatively inexpensive, though prices can vary a lot between different providers. Once you’ve decided what level of coverage you need, make sure you check out as many options as possible to find the best deal. Here’s a few examples of what you can expect:

  • Basic AA breakdown cover starts at around £59 per year for roadside assistance for a vehicle, or £69 for personal cover. The company’s most comprehensive package offers roadside assistance as well as home start service, national recovery, and onward travel. This costs £179 annually for a person or £169 for a vehicle.
  • RAC breakdown cover usually comes in a little cheaper than the AA. Basic roadside assistance for a person costs around £60, or £59 for a vehicle. Their most comprehensive UK-based package starts at around £145 for a person or £135 for a vehicle.

Breakdown cover will help you get where you need to go when there’s a problem with your vehicle. It’s an essential extra purchase for a new driver or a new car, and it’s usually quite affordable, particularly if you opt for more basic services. Packages can vary greatly, however, and it’s always worth negotiating with providers to see what kind of deals might be available. Do a little prior research and try to shop around, and you could get yourself valuable peace of mind for a surprisingly low price.

To help prevent a breakdown on the side of the road, take a look at our advice guide on how to keep your car running smoothly through proper maintenance.

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