Do I need Breakdown Cover?
Breakdown cover won’t stop your car from breaking down but it can help you get back on the road — for a policy you can rely on, here’s what to think about
What is breakdown cover?
If your car breaks down while you’re out and about, breakdown insurance is there to help you with repairs. If you’re really lucky, you may not ever need to call for help but breakdowns often happen when you least expect them (and typically in the most inconvenient of places).
You can buy breakdown cover as part of your car insurance or you can buy it as a standalone policy. Policies are also known as breakdown and recovery insurance.
Breakdown cover can also be included as a perk with some bank accounts so always check to see if you’ve already got insurance before doubling up on cover.
The type of help you get when you break down, will depend on the level of cover you take out, for example:
- Roadside assistance — your insurer will arrange for help to come to you. A mechanic will be sent to your location and will try to repair your car at the roadside. If it can’t be fixed, they’ll usually arrange for your car to be towed to the nearest garage. It’s worth noting that some exclusions apply and many policies will state you must be a certain distance from home to qualify for roadside assistance.
- At home assistance — if your car won’t start at home (or very near your home), you’ll be able to call for help and hopefully have your car fixed there and then. In some policies, home breakdown cover is called ‘home start’.
- National recovery — if your car can’t be fixed at the roadside, you can arrange for it to be towed anywhere in the UK for your convenience.
- Onward travel — if your car can’t be fixed, these policies will help you continue your journey. This could include a taxi or hire car as well as accommodation.
- European breakdown cover — provides roadside recovery if you break down in Europe (double check that the country you’re visiting is covered).
Can I add extras to my car breakdown cover?
Yes, like many other types of insurance, you’ll be able to add on other features to cover a wider range of events. Optional extras can include:
- Replacements for lost keys
- Tyre replacement
- Battery replacement
How much is breakdown cover?
Cost will very much depend on the level of cover you choose and whether or not you’ve added any extras. Remember that insurers set their own terms and conditions so features will vary.
Cheap breakdown cover might seem like a good idea when you buy it, but it might not represent good value when you actually need it. For instance, if you only have roadside assistance and need to transport your car back home because it can’t be fixed, you’ll need to arrange this yourself. Plus, if you’ve broken down mid-journey, you’ll also need to factor in onward travel costs and potentially, accommodation too.
On the other hand, a policy that includes national recovery and onward travel might look expensive but it could represent better value for money and be a lot more convenient.
Can I pay for car breakdown cover monthly?
You can pay for breakdown cover monthly but paying annually might be the cheaper option. Paying in instalments might help you spread the cost but you could end up paying more once interest fees are added.
Can I add other people to my breakdown and recovery insurance?
Breakdown cover is usually very flexible and in most cases you’ll be able to add several named drivers and their respective cars to your policy. These multi-car car policies are ideal if each family member has their own vehicle.
You can also get policies that cover one vehicle but several drivers, making them perfect if you share a car with family members.
What should I do if I break down?
Breaking down on the road can leave you in a panic but try to stay calm — here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Park somewhere safe — on motorways and carriageways park as far to the left of the hard shoulder as you can.
- Be seen — you should wear a high-visibility vest or jacket and put your car hazard lights on.
- Step out of the car (if it’s safe to do so) — If you’re on a busy road, try getting out through the passenger side so you don’t risk getting caught up in traffic. The Highway Code recommends heading to the verge at the side of the road. Pets should be left in the car unless they can be properly controlled.
- Call for help — if you have breakdown and recovery insurance, call your provider. They’ll make the necessary arrangements and be able to offer you advice based on your immediate situation.
What happens if I break down and don’t have breakdown cover?
If you don’t have breakdown and recovery insurance, you’ve got a few different options:
- Use the emergency telephones — these are placed one mile apart on the hard shoulder of motorways and connect to the Highways Agency or the police. You should explain where you are and the situation and they’ll be able to dispatch help. You should face towards the traffic when making this call. Go back to your car when you’ve made the call and stay on the verge.
- Contact a local garage — if you know where you are, you can call a local garage for help.
- Buy breakdown cover there and then — you can buy emergency breakdown cover at the side of the road from providers including the AA, the RAC and Green Flag.
You should bear in mind that all these options are likely to cost considerably more than the price of a breakdown policy. Even if you decide to buy emergency cover at the side of the road, you’ll pay a higher price compared to if you bought the policy beforehand.
What isn’t covered by my car breakdown insurance?
Your policy will come with a number of conditions and exclusions. These will vary by insurer but policies may not cover:
- Breakdowns on private land
- Onward travel for pets
- Breakdowns caused by an accident
- Breakdowns caused by poor maintenance (for instance if you hadn’t topped up the oil)
Is breakdown cover worth it?
This is really up to you. If you’re not worried about breaking down or your car is relatively new and you’re confident it’s not likely to, then you may not want or need insurance.
However, the very nature of break downs means you simply don’t know when one might happen and there’s a lot to be said for peace of mind when you’re on the road.
At mustard.co.uk, you can compare a range of car insurance quotes with or without breakdown cover to see what’s right for you. Simply fill in an online insurance quote or to speak to an expert member of the team, call 0330 022 88814 to find a deal to suit you.
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