Types of breakdown cover

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Types Of Breakdown Cover

When it comes to breakdown cover, the type you need for a European road trip varies from the one required for your regular daily commute. Therefore, how can you ensure that you have adequate cover for all possible scenarios? Discover the 5 distinct types of breakdown cover.

Learn how you can prevent your vehicle from breaking down with our breakdown checklist.

What is breakdown cover?

Breakdown cover is a type of insurance that provides assistance when your car experiences a mechanical failure. It can help you get your car back on the road, take you to a nearby garage for repairs, or even transport you to your desired destination.

This type of cover is essential for any driver who wants peace of mind and assurance that they won’t be stranded in case of an unexpected breakdown.

There are 5 primary categories of breakdown cover available to choose from, depending on your needs and preferences.

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At home

If you’re looking for breakdown cover that specifically caters to issues that may arise at your home, then “at home” or “home start” breakdown cover is the right policy for you. This type of cover provides assistance if you experience a breakdown at your home or within a short distance from your home.

The distance covered can vary from provider to provider but typically ranges from a quarter to a mile from your home address. Flat batteries and other minor issues can often be the cause of breakdowns close to home, making this type of policy worth considering for those who frequently take short journeys.

‘At home’ breakdown cover usually includes a mechanic coming to your location to jumpstart your car or replace the battery if necessary. Additionally, some providers may offer other services such as a fuel top-up or assistance with a punctured tyre.

It is essential to consider the cost and cover offered by different providers before choosing a policy. Some providers may offer home start cover as part of a broader policy, while others may offer it as a standalone policy.

Additionally, some providers may offer more comprehensive cover than others, so it is important to read the fine print carefully to ensure you understand what is covered and what is not.

In summary, ‘at home’ or ‘home start’ breakdown cover can be a valuable policy for those who frequently take short journeys or have a history of minor breakdowns near their home address. It can provide peace of mind and ensure that you’re not stranded in case of a breakdown.

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RAC breakdown cover

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Roadside assistance

Roadside assistance is a type of breakdown cover that provides assistance when your vehicle breaks down during a journey. It typically includes a mechanic coming to your location and attempting to fix your vehicle on the spot. If the mechanic is unable to repair your vehicle, then the policy may also offer a tow to a nearby garage for further repairs.

The level of cover provided by roadside assistance policies can vary, depending on the provider and policy. Some policies may cover the cost of the tow, while others may require you to pay a fee for this service. Some policies may also include additional benefits, such as fuel delivery, jump-starting your battery, or changing a flat tire.

If your vehicle cannot be fixed immediately, and the repair shop is closed, you may be able to request that your vehicle be towed to your home, provided that it falls within the distance set by the provider. This means that you won’t be stranded on the side of the road and can make arrangements to have your vehicle repaired at a later time.

It’s important to note that some roadside assistance policies may have restrictions on the number of callouts you can make in a given period. Additionally, there may be restrictions on the type of vehicles that can be covered, such as vehicles over a certain age or weight. Be sure to read the fine print of your policy carefully to understand what is covered and what is not.

In summary, roadside assistance is a type of breakdown cover that provides assistance when your vehicle breaks down during a journey. It can provide peace of mind and ensure that you’re not stranded on the side of the road. Be sure to understand the cover and limitations of your policy before you hit the road.

National recovery

National Recovery is a type of breakdown cover that provides assistance if your vehicle breaks down far away from home and cannot be fixed on the spot. This type of policy includes a tow truck that can take you and your vehicle to any location within the country, providing peace of mind when travelling long distances.

National recovery policies are particularly useful for those who frequently take long road trips or drive far from home. It ensures that you won’t be stranded far away from home and that you can get your vehicle to a trusted repair shop or your home address.

In addition to providing a tow, some national recovery policies may also offer benefits such as a replacement vehicle, accommodation, or alternative transportation to your final destination if your vehicle cannot be repaired on the spot.

It is important to note that if your vehicle needs to be towed by the Highways Agency due to causing an obstruction or danger to others, you could face a fee of £150. Additionally, if you fail to collect your vehicle from where it’s being stored before noon the following day, you could incur an additional charge.

National Highways Breakdown Cover

When selecting a national recovery policy, it is essential to understand what is covered and what is not. Be sure to read the fine print carefully and choose a policy that suits your needs.

In summary, national recovery is a type of breakdown cover that provides a tow to any location within the UK if your vehicle breaks down and cannot be fixed on the spot. This type of policy is particularly useful for those who frequently travel far from home and provides peace of mind in case of a breakdown. Be aware of potential fees and restrictions when choosing a policy.

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Onward journey

Onward journey is a type of breakdown cover that provides assistance beyond a simple tow or repair. This category of cover is designed to get you to your destination or help you continue your journey despite the breakdown.

Onward journey cover typically includes benefits such as overnight accommodation, car hire, or alternative transportation to your final destination. This type of cover can be particularly useful if you frequently travel long distances or have children in tow. It ensures that you and your passengers can continue your journey or return home safely if your vehicle cannot be repaired immediately.

In addition to providing transportation or accommodation, onward journey policies may also cover the cost of a single rail fare for you to collect your vehicle when it’s ready for pickup after repairs.

When selecting an onward journey policy, it is important to understand what is covered and what is not. Some policies may only cover the cost of transportation or accommodation up to a certain limit, while others may require you to pay an excess fee. Be sure to read the fine print of your policy carefully to understand its limitations.

In summary, onward journey is a type of breakdown cover that provides assistance beyond a simple tow or repair. It ensures that you and your passengers can continue your journey or return home safely if your vehicle cannot be repaired immediately. Consider this type of cover if you frequently travel long distances or have children in tow.

European cover

European breakdown cover is a type of breakdown insurance that provides assistance if your vehicle breaks down while driving in Europe. This cover is essential for those who plan to take their car on holiday to Europe or frequently travel to the continent.

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European cover is often bundled with other features as part of a comprehensive policy rather than offered as a standalone policy. This type of cover typically includes all the benefits of a regular roadside assistance policy, such as a mechanic coming to your location to fix your vehicle or towing it to a nearby garage for repairs.

In addition to these benefits, European cover policies may also include features such as alternative transportation or accommodation while your vehicle is being repaired. This ensures that you and your passengers can continue your journey or return home safely, even if your vehicle cannot be fixed immediately.

When selecting a European cover policy, it is important to ensure that the policy covers the country you are travelling to. Some policies may have exclusions or limitations for certain countries, so it is important to read the fine print carefully before purchasing a policy.

It is also worth noting that some policies may have additional requirements, such as carrying specific documents or equipment in your vehicle while driving in Europe. Be sure to understand these requirements before embarking on your journey to avoid any issues.

In summary, European cover is a type of breakdown insurance that provides assistance if your vehicle breaks down while driving in Europe. It is often bundled with other features as part of a comprehensive policy and typically includes all the benefits of a regular roadside assistance policy, with additional features such as alternative transportation or accommodation.

Ensure that the policy covers the country you are travelling to and understand any additional requirements before purchasing a policy.

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Could you already have breakdown cover?

Breakdown cover is often not included in your car insurance policy, though it can be offered as an add-on. Moreover, it can be bundled with other products such as bank accounts or credit cards as an additional benefit.

As such, it is crucial to check if you already have breakdown cover before requesting a quote, to avoid paying for duplicate cover.


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What extras are available on breakdown cover?

Breakdown cover policies offer different levels of cover, and some may include additional extras that you can opt for by paying extra. These extras can provide additional peace of mind and cover, depending on your needs.

  • Breakdown repair cover: Some providers offer breakdown repair cover that helps you cover the cost of repairs when your vehicle breaks down. This type of cover typically covers up to around £500 for garage repair bills and may also include additional benefits such as replacement tyres, batteries, and keys at an extra cost. However, there may be a limit to the number of claims you can make in a year, and you’ll typically have to pay an excess towards your claim.

  • Hire car: In case your vehicle needs repairs and cannot be fixed on the spot, you can opt for hire car cover, which provides financial assistance towards the cost of a replacement vehicle. This means that you won’t be without transportation while your car is being repaired.

  • Travel costs: If your vehicle can’t be repaired quickly, some policies may cover additional costs to get you to your destination or back home. This can include expenses such as public transportation or overnight accommodation, ensuring that you can continue your journey or return home safely.

It’s important to note that the availability of these extras may vary by provider and policy. Some policies may also have restrictions or limitations, such as the maximum amount covered or the number of claims allowed in a year. Before choosing a policy, carefully read the fine print to understand what is included and what is not.

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What isn’t covered with breakdown cover?

While breakdown cover policies can provide valuable assistance in case of a breakdown, it’s essential to understand what is not covered. Some policies may exclude human errors or routine maintenance, while others may not cover breakdowns abroad or on private land.

Here are some common exclusions to be aware of:

  • Leaving your lights on or running out of fuel: Some policies may exclude cover for issues caused by human error, such as leaving your lights on or running out of fuel.

  • Misfuelling: If you fill up with the wrong type of fuel, your policy may cover the cost of towing your vehicle to a garage, but it typically won’t cover the cost of fuel drainage and disposal or any damage to your vehicle.

  • Breaking down abroad with a UK policy: If you only have a UK policy, you may not be covered for breakdowns abroad.

  • Routine maintenance and repairs: Policies typically do not cover routine maintenance and repairs, including labour charges and parts for repairs.

  • Repeat call-outs for the same fault: Some policies may limit the number of callouts for the same issue.

  • Breaking down on private land: Recovery vehicles may not be able to access vehicles on private land, so breakdowns on such land may not be covered.

  • Windscreen repairs: Some policies may exclude cover for windscreen repairs, which may be included in your car insurance policy instead.

  • Locksmith costs: Some policies may exclude the cost of a locksmith, which may be required in case of lost or damaged keys.

It’s also worth noting that a new policy may not activate immediately and may only provide partial cover for the first 30 days. Be sure to read the policy wording carefully to understand what is covered and what is not.

Should you cover yourself or your vehicle?

When applying for breakdown cover, you have the option to choose between personal cover or vehicle cover.

  • Personal cover provides assistance for you, regardless of which vehicle you’re driving. This means that you can be covered for breakdowns while driving any car, as long as you are the driver.
  • Vehicle cover, on the other hand, provides cover for your specific vehicle, regardless of who is driving it. This means that your car will be covered for breakdowns, even if someone else is driving it at the time of the breakdown.

Some providers may also offer the option to cover up to three vehicles registered to the same address on a single policy. This can be a convenient option for households with multiple cars, as it provides cover for all the vehicles on a single policy.

When deciding between personal cover and vehicle cover, consider your needs and usage patterns. If you frequently drive different cars, personal cover may be a better option. If you primarily drive one car or have multiple cars at your address, vehicle cover may be more suitable.

It’s worth noting that the cost of cover may vary between personal and vehicle cover. Additionally, the level of cover provided may differ between policies, so be sure to read the policy details carefully to understand what is included and what is not.

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How many times can you use your breakdown cover?

While breakdown cover can be a lifesaver in case of a breakdown, it’s important to be aware of the limitations of your policy. All policies have different limits on the number of call-outs you can make during the policy period, and most policies rule out repeat calls for the same fault.

In addition to call-out limits, breakdown cover policies may also have other limitations, such as weight restrictions for vehicles and whether or not wheel changes are included.

To ensure that you have the right level of cover for your needs, it’s important to carefully review the policy documents before purchasing a policy. Check the policy details to understand the call-out limits, any exclusions or limitations, and what is included in the cover.

Keep in mind that some policies may offer add-ons or extra cover options that can provide additional peace of mind. These may include benefits such as breakdown repair cover, hire car cover, or travel costs, which can be useful in case of a breakdown.

In summary, while breakdown cover can be a valuable asset, it’s important to understand the limits of your policy. Check the policy documents carefully to understand call-out limits, any exclusions or limitations, and what is included in the cover. Consider adding extra cover options for additional peace of mind, such as breakdown repair cover or hire car cover.

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Do you have to pay anything if you break down?

If you experience a breakdown, most breakdown cover policies will automatically pay for the service you need, though there may be an excess charge. However, some policies may contract out the recovery work, and you may need to pay upfront and claim back via your policy. It’s important to understand which type of policy you have to avoid any confusion or unexpected costs.

In case of a breakdown, having breakdown cover can provide peace of mind and assistance to get you back on the road quickly. Without breakdown cover, you may be left stranded or face high costs to get your vehicle towed to a garage or repaired.

According to statistics, thousands of breakdowns happen every day across the UK, so having breakdown cover can make a significant difference in your experience. It can turn a potentially stressful and inconvenient situation into a minor inconvenience, knowing that help is just a phone call away.

Before purchasing breakdown cover, it’s important to carefully review the policy details to understand what is included, any limitations, and what costs you may need to pay upfront. By doing so, you can select the right policy for your needs and ensure that you are fully covered in case of a breakdown.

Frequently asked questions

Generally, there is no excess to pay when using breakdown cover, as the mechanic will attempt to repair the vehicle and, if that is not possible, they will tow it to a garage without any extra charges.

However, if you have breakdown repair cover, you may have to pay an excess set out in your policy’s terms and conditions on any claim for repairs.

Temporary breakdown cover is available from some breakdown providers, lasting anywhere from one day to a month. This type of cover can be useful in situations where you have temporary car insurance or when borrowing a vehicle from a friend.

However, it’s important to note that not all providers offer this type of cover. Currently, this option is not available through our service.

If you change your vehicle, the action you need to take will depend on the type of breakdown cover you have. If you have vehicle cover, you will need to inform your provider about the change.

However, if you have personal cover, you should be able to drive any eligible vehicle without needing to inform your provider. Nonetheless, it’s important to review your policy terms and conditions to ensure that you are fully aware of any restrictions or limitations.

Breakdown cover providers may offer a variety of extras and benefits to their customers. Some of these may include discounts with partner companies, such as savings on restaurants, vehicle servicing, airport parking, or free legal advice.

Before signing up for breakdown cover, it’s important to check if the provider offers any additional benefits that are important to you.

In addition to partner discounts, some providers may offer renewal discounts for the following year’s membership if you didn’t require any assistance from your breakdown cover during the previous year. Some providers may also offer assistance in managing the aftermath of an accident.

By understanding the extras and benefits offered by breakdown cover providers, you can select a policy that not only provides the essential cover you need in case of a breakdown but also additional perks that could be beneficial to you.

While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, having ‘at home’ breakdown cover can save you money in the long run. Without breakdown cover, you could face significant costs for a mechanic to attempt to fix your vehicle or for a tow to a garage.

However, with breakdown cover, you have access to emergency assistance at no extra cost, potentially saving you money in the event of a breakdown.

Yes, roadside assistance is a type of breakdown cover that provides a basic level of support in case of a breakdown.

This level of cover involves a patrol coming to your aid if you break down at least a quarter of a mile away from your home address. The patrol will attempt to fix the issue on the spot, and if they are unable to do so, they will tow your vehicle to a nearby garage.

While roadside assistance may be sufficient for some drivers, it is important to review the policy details to ensure that you have the appropriate level of cover for your needs.

National or vehicle recovery can be a valuable addition to your breakdown cover, especially if you frequently travel long distances.

This level of cover provides peace of mind, knowing that you and your vehicle can receive roadside assistance no matter where you are, even if you are far away from your home or planned destination.

By having national recovery as part of your breakdown cover, you can avoid the potential inconvenience and expense of being stranded far from home in case of a breakdown.

National breakdown cover provides assistance at the roadside in an attempt to restart or mobilise your vehicle. If your vehicle breaks down at your home address, a patrol will come to your aid there as well.

If your vehicle cannot be restarted at your home or on the roadside, it will be towed to a nearby garage or your home within a 15-mile radius.

By having national breakdown cover, you can receive reliable assistance in case of a breakdown, regardless of your location.

Personal breakdown cover applies to an individual as a driver or passenger in any eligible vehicle, while vehicle-based breakdown cover applies to a specific vehicle.

Vehicle-based breakdown cover is typically less expensive than personal cover and is an ideal choice for individuals who only ever drive one vehicle or families who own only one vehicle.

By selecting the appropriate level of cover for your needs, you can ensure that you have adequate protection in case of a breakdown while also keeping costs under control.

Onward travel is an additional feature that can be added to your breakdown cover policy. This feature ensures that you remain mobile in case your vehicle requires repair at a garage following a breakdown. With onward travel, you may receive assistance such as overnight accommodation, alternative transport, or a hire car, depending on the terms of your policy.

By selecting onward travel as an add-on to your breakdown cover, you can avoid potential inconveniences caused by vehicle breakdowns and ensure that you can continue with your plans.

European breakdown cover is highly recommended when driving in Europe. Without it, you could face significant costs for repairs and callouts in the event of a breakdown, and you may also need to navigate the repair process on your own in a foreign country where you may not speak the language.

By having European breakdown cover, you can access emergency assistance and support in case of a breakdown, ensuring that you are covered and protected while driving abroad.

Temporary European breakdown cover is available for a variety of durations, ranging from one day up to 90 days or more.

Annual multi-trip cover for Europe is also available, providing up to 90 days of cover throughout the year, with no single trip lasting longer than 30 days. By selecting temporary European breakdown cover, you can ensure that you are protected while driving in Europe for a specific period, without committing to a full year of cover.

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