All you need to know about comparing annual breakdown cover
There are few things more irritating – or worrying – than breaking down far from home or in the back of beyond where no help is nearby. A simple puncture you might be able to handle, but many of today’s vehicles are increasingly computerised and problems can often be difficult to locate or fix. That’s why thousands of drivers choose to buy annual breakdown cover, whether they own a car, a van, a motorbike or even a scooter. You can buy it separately or add it to your car insurance in many cases.
But not all breakdown cover is the same. You can get cover for almost every eventuality (annually) or you can tailor it according to your specific needs (monthly). For example, do you want peace of mind while travelling in the UK or do you want EU cover for when you holiday in Europe? Home assistance or onward journey cover? Our easy-to-follow guide will help you make the right decision.
Here’s how it works. When your car breaks down, you call your breakdown provider. They take down the details of where you are, roughly what the problem is and send a mechanic to come out to you. They will do their best to fix the problem and get you back on the road. If something more serious is wrong, if you have ‘onward journey’ cover, they will take you and your car home, or to a garage of your choice or on to your destination (depending on your provider's terms and agreed distance).
Why should I buy breakdown cover?
If your car has ever broken down when you’re far from home you’ll know how worrying it can be. There are lots of reasons why your car might suddenly stop working, from something simple like a puncture or the engine overheating, through to your timing belt snapping or something even more serious.
That’s why thousands of drivers choose to buy annual car or van breakdown cover, to help them get back on the road or taken home if something goes wrong.
Here’s how it works. When your car breaks down, you call your breakdown provider. They take down the details of where you are and roughly what the problem is, and send a mechanic to come out to you. They will do their best to fix the problem and get you back on the road. If something more serious is wrong, if you have ‘onward journey’ cover, they will take you and your car home, or to a garage of your choice or on to your destination (depending on your provider's terms and agreed distance).
Many people buy breakdown cover as an annual policy. Sometimes you can buy it as part of your car insurance, either included in the main policy, or as an optional add-on. The other approach is to buy separate car breakdown cover.
There are quite a few things to consider when buying car breakdown cover, so keep on reading to find out more.
Local, national and European cover
The first thing to think about is how far you usually travel. If you only really drive within in your county or region, you can select local coverage. You’ll need to check the details of the policy to understand how far from home you can be before you are out of range for the cover.
If you regularly drive long distances, national coverage might suit you better. This will give you the support you need if you break down hours from home with no way of getting back.
Another thing to think about is whether you would need Home Start. If you include this in your policy, you can call the breakdown service out if your car is at home and won’t start. If you have another vehicle you could use, (or you know a mechanic) you might not need to choose this level.
Home start and onward journey cover
Next, how much cover do you need? The basic level will give you roadside assistance. That means, the mechanic does what they can to fix the problem or tows you to the nearest garage or home(dependant on individual provider’s terms and agreed distance). It’s important to note, by the way, that breakdown cover only applies to a mechanical breakdown, not a traffic accident. If you have an accident, you need to contact your car provider for advice.
That’s enough for some people, but you might also want reassurance that you can get home, and have your vehicle taken to a garage near where you live. In that case you would need onward journey cover. Here, if the mechanic can’t get your car back on the road, they can take you back to where you live, and either leave your car at your house or take it to your local garage.
European breakdown cover
Do you use your car to go on holiday outside the UK? If so, you might want to look at European breakdown cover, which means you can get roadside assistance if you break down in most countries on the continent. Any UK car insurance policy will cover you to drive within the EU, but it’s worth bearing in mind that this is only on a third-party basis. But if you only leave the country once or twice a year, you could also look at single trip European breakdown cover, which you can buy as a one-off through your provider.
If you travel a lot, and maybe if you use your car for work, you might choose a further level of coverage which would mean you’re covered for other costs – say if you need to stay in a hotel for the night while your car is being fixed, or to hire a car while yours is repaired.
Personal or vehicle cover
A final choice is whether you want ‘personal’ or ‘vehicle’ breakdown cover. If you choose personal cover, you can call for assistance for any vehicle that you’re driving. This can be really useful if you regularly drive different cars or other vehicles.
Alternatively you can link the cover to your car – which is useful if different people in your family might be driving it. This kind is sometimes cheaper because the breakdown provider can find out more about the vehicle – how old it is, its mileage and so how likely it is to break down.
Compare and save
Of course, the different levels of cover come with different costs, so it’s worth comparing car breakdown cover to really understand your options for cheap breakdown cover.
We can help you look at the different kinds of breakdown cover offers available to you.
We’ll list the breakdown cover quotes out in a table for you with the cheapest breakdown cover at the top, and an at-a-glance guide to the main things each one offers you.
When you’ve chosen the best breakdown cover for you, just click on the button to visit the provider’s website to do the rest. Policy limitations and exclusions will apply to the varying levels of cover so make sure you read all the details before you buy, in case there are any age restrictions etc. It’s easy to compare breakdown cover with comparethemarket.com to help you find great value breakdown cover to suit you.