Breakdown insurance can save big bills if you run into car trouble, but there’s no ‘one size fits all’ policy, so here’s the nuts and bolts of what you need to know.
When it comes to the big players of the breakdown world, the AA and RAC are the most well known, and both use their own branded patrol vehicles. There’s lots of other providers on the road including Green Flag, Start Rescue, Gem and Emergency Assist, and they usually hook up with local breakdown providers and garages to help you out.
Basic breakdown cover costs from under £25 a year, so just £2 a month, but with ‘basic’, you get what it says on the tin. If you need help, you’ll get a free call out, usually around an hour’s help at the roadside and if your vehicle can’t be fixed, a tow to the nearest garage.
Cover for you or your car?
Vehicle cover is cheapest, and the one to go for if you only drive one motor.
If you drive other cars, then ‘personal’ cover can be a better, though pricier option. This means you’re covered both as a driver or passenger in any vehicle.
Most breakdown policies cover petrol, diesel, electric and hybrid vehicles, but do check before buying.
How much cover do you need?
On top of the ‘basic’ cover, you can choose other options, like ‘Home’ which can be invaluable on cold Winter mornings as means a mechanic at your door.
The most expensive package usually includes basic, home plus ‘Onward Travel’, or ‘Relay’, which usually covers the cost of taking you, and your passengers, to your final destination, along with the cost of a hire car while your wheels are being fixed. So if you breakdown on the way to the airport, you’ll get taken there even if your wheels aren’t up to the job.
You can pay more to extend UK cover across Europe in case of unexpected holiday breakdowns too.
Call out limits
Handy to have, but breakdown cover isn’t a licence to call a mechanic for every niggling problem or save money on servicing.
Most breakdown companies won’t come out for recurrent faults, and with some, having a regular service may be a condition of policy cover.
Watch for call out limits. Some providers, like Emergency Assist, have a four call out limit per year on basic cover, while Green Flag has unlimited call outs, even on its most basic ‘Rescue’ option.
The RAC’s cheapest ‘Standard’ policy offers five call outs a year, although it’s more expensive packages are unlimited.