THE 21 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BREAKDOWN COVER
If you’re reading this, then chances are you’ve already bought or are thinking about buying car insurance. But you may also be wondering what exactly “breakdown” cover means. What kinds of things are covered? And what happens if something goes wrong?
This blog post will answer these questions and more. Here are some of the most common questions you should consider asking.
1. IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BREAKDOWN COVER AND COMPREHENSIVE COVER?
Simply put, the answer is yes. Breakdown cover reimburses you for the cost of a breakdown or mechanical fault but does not cover the cost of loss or damage to your vehicle. On the other hand, comprehensive car insurance does cover damage to your vehicle, but it also protects you against theft, fire, and more. Insurance providers will typically only offer breakdown cover as an add-on to comprehensive cover or as a separate policy.
Below, we will discuss the breakdown cover and comprehensive cover in more detail.
WHAT IS “BREAKDOWN COVER”?
A breakdown cover is a product that is designed to cover you for mechanical failure of your vehicle. You can expect to be covered for parts and labour for anything that stops your car. You may be covered for roadside assistance, securing your vehicle when it goes flat, and even towing.
If your vehicle breaks down, for instance when your battery dies or your tyres puncture, a breakdown cover can provide assistance so that you and your vehicle do not end up stranded.
WHAT TYPES OF BREAKDOWN COVERS ARE AVAILABLE?
There are a variety of different breakdown covers available, and you will be able to choose the best one that applies to you. You can choose between personal, vehicle, traditional, and something similar to insurance.
- Personal: Your breakdown policy will cover any vehicle that meets the policy’s requirements. The policy may cover you regardless of whether you were driving or riding as a passenger, and depending on the provider and policy type, it may also cover people living at the same address, though there may be a limit.
- Vehicle: With vehicle breakdown, you will be able to make a claim for a specific vehicle, such as a car, van, or motorcycle, and you might be able to include several vehicles in this policy up to a certain amount.
- Traditional: In the traditional breakdown cover model, you pay a certain amount, usually annually, in exchange for 24/7 assistance for any items covered by your policy. It would also cover call-outs, which are sometimes limited to a set number per year, along with towing and any roadside or garage repairs needed.
- Similar to Insurance: With the insurance-style breakdown cover, your provider will reimburse you for costs such as callouts, repairs, and recovery if you break down.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN BREAKDOWN COVER?
It is important to note that breakdown policies can vary based on the level of cover you take out and the provider you choose. However, policies can include at-home breakdown, roadside assistance or local cover, vehicle recovery or national cover, and onward travel cover.
Home Breakdown: In addition to covering you for breakdowns at home, some policies also cover breakdowns within a short distance of your house.
Roadside Assistance and Local Coverage: Roadside assistance and local cover will provide you with peace of mind when your car breaks down on the road or by the roadside. If the mechanic is unable to repair your vehicle at the roadside, the provider will usually tow it to a garage nearby.
Vehicle Recovery and National Cover: As part of your breakdown cover, you will be able to choose any location where you and your vehicle will be towed if your vehicle cannot be repaired.
Onward Travel: You will have more options for transportation to your destination thanks to the onward travel insurance that is included in your breakdown deal. This can involve courtesy cars, overnight accommodations, or alternative public transportation, depending on the provider and level of cover you select.
Although breakdown cover may be purchased separately, some insurers offer it as a standard inclusion with their car insurance policies, and some even offer optional extras such as battery replacement, key replacement, and tyre replacement. Compare your options and shop around to ensure that you are receiving the best deal.
WHAT IS COMPREHENSIVE CAR INSURANCE?
Of all the options for cover, comprehensive car insurance (or fully comprehensive car insurance) offers the most cover. The policy provides cover against injury and damage to you and your vehicle, as well as third parties who may be involved in a claim. Having fully comprehensive car insurance is not a legal requirement, although having car insurance is.
However, it is a good idea to have it. If you wish to drive on UK roads, you are required to have third-party insurance as a minimum, which is the lowest level of insurance available.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN COMPREHENSIVE COVER?
The broadest level of protection is provided by fully comprehensive car insurance. While it may vary depending on the company you choose and what they offer as standard, you’ll typically discover that comprehensive cover includes third-party damage, breakdown cover, courtesy car cover, personal accident cover, and motor legal protection.
So there we have it; hopefully, now you can see the main differences and similarities between comprehensive car insurance and breakdown insurance.
2. DOES MY CURRENT INSURER OFFER BREAKDOWN COVER?
If you are unsure whether or not your current provider offers breakdown cover, the best way to check is by contacting the insurance company directly and asking them.
Remember to investigate what level of breakdown assistance they provide: home, roadside, vehicle recovery, national, and so forth.
3. IS BREAKDOWN COVER MANDATORY?
No, it is not mandatory in the UK to have a breakdown cover. However, it is a legal requirement to have third-party car insurance as a minimum level of cover when driving on UK roads.
If you do decide to purchase breakdown cover, it is typically offered as an add-on to a standalone car insurance policy or as an optional extra. Note that some insurers will cover the cost of roadside assistance if you subscribe to one of their comprehensive car insurance policies.
4. CAN I BUY BREAKDOWN COVER WHEN I’M UNDER 25 YEARS OLD?
Vehicle breakdown insurance covers the vehicle regardless of who is driving it when it breaks down. This is different from personal breakdown insurance, which covers the driver and passengers of any eligible vehicle when it breaks down.
So simply put, yes, you can purchase breakdown cover when you are under 25 years old.
5. SHOULD I GET BREAKDOWN COVER WITH EVERY NEW CAR I PURCHASE?
Paying for breakdown insurance may seem counterintuitive, but in the long run, it can help you save money. Without breakdown insurance, receiving emergency assistance could prove to be quite expensive.
For example, without breakdown insurance, you would have to pay for a mechanic to try to fix your car or for a tow to a garage.
Unless your vehicle is still brand new and covered by the included breakdown cover, we advise purchasing breakdown insurance. A year’s worth of insurance is considerably less expensive than having your car recovered without one.
6. DOES MY CREDIT RATING AFFECT WHETHER I CAN BUY BREAKDOWN COVER?
It is unlikely that your credit score will influence your ability to purchase breakdown cover. However, if your breakdown cover is part of a more comprehensive policy, then it may affect your ability to purchase this cover.
Your credit score is an important consideration when calculating your vehicle insurance rate. A lower rate is typically obtained with better credit, but a higher rate is frequently obtained with bad credit. If you have a low credit score, insurers might deny your application. If they believe you to be too “risky” to lend to, they will act in this way.
Instead of taking out another loan from an insurer if your credit score is low, you could be better off finding another way to pay for your car insurance, such as a credit card.
7. WHEN I HAVE BREAKDOWN COVER, DO I NEED TO TAKE MY VEHICLE TO A GARAGE OR AM I ABLE TO CARRY OUT SOME REPAIRS MYSELF?
This will all depend on the cover that is included in your breakdown cover. Some policies will cover you for roadside assistance; however, it is possible that the assistance that you receive may be limited.
For example, assistance may be provided for changing a tyre or performing an oil check; it is unlikely to be offered for an engine replacement.
Some providers will offer complete roadside assistance, including repairs at your home and in a garage, so it is worth finding out the details. If you require assistance with knowing what is included in your cover, you should speak to your provider directly.
8. WHAT IF I BREAK DOWN AT NIGHT AND NO ONE IS AROUND TO HELP?
When your car breaks down unexpectedly and you don’t have breakdown cover, your only option may be to call for emergency assistance. If you don’t have roadside assistance included in your vehicle insurance policy, you may have to call your insurance provider’s roadside assistance team.
However, you can give yourself the advantage of having your breakdown fixed quickly if you have a car recovery service plan. A car recovery service covers you for roadside assistance, including the recovery of your vehicle to a central location, such as a garage. A car recovery service also protects you by covering your costs for any recovery and storage fees that come from being towed by a recovery service.
It is also worth mentioning that some plans will include 24/7 emergency cover, so it is worth shopping around and comparing a few quotes to ensure you get cover that is suited to your situation.
9. WHAT IF I AM INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT AND MY VEHICLE BREAKS DOWN?
While this scenario is unfortunate, it is nothing that breakdown insurance can’t help you with. If you have comprehensive car insurance, it will protect against personal injury and damage to your vehicle, including damage caused by an accident on the road.
If your car is damaged in an incident that was caused by another road user, you can make a claim, and your insurance company will pay for the repairs. A car recovery service will tow your vehicle to a garage.
10. WHAT IF I AM TRAVELLING ABROAD AND MY VEHICLE BREAKS DOWN?
It is crucial that you confirm with your breakdown insurance provider that you are covered in the country you are visiting in the event of a breakdown or accident. Any road trip requires a breakdown insurance policy to prevent you from being out of pocket if something goes wrong.
A top European breakdown policy will help in the recovery of the damaged vehicle in addition to providing you with an emergency breakdown vehicle. If your vehicle breaks down, carefully read the fine print of any policy to determine whether you’ll be responsible for the cost of a hire car and accommodation.
11. I HAVE A VAN; DO I STILL NEED BREAKDOWN COVER?
The importance of having proper breakdown cover for your van cannot be overstated, as vehicles can and do break down from time to time. If your van broke down either at work or on a long journey, any time spent off the road can be highly frustrating. Breakdown cover is also particularly important if you run a business and depend on your van to transport goods or people. The cost of hiring a van could take a financial toll that is too great to bear for any business.
Fortunately, there are a variety of breakdown cover policies available, specifically for vans. So be sure to speak with your provider and see what they can offer you.
12. WILL HAVING BREAKDOWN COVER INCREASE MY PREMIUMS?
Purchasing breakdown cover will not impact your policy or no-claims bonus. Even if you buy both your car insurance and breakdown cover from the same provider, these are two separate policies.
13. IF I DON’T HAVE BREAKDOWN COVER, WILL I BE FINED BY THE POLICE?
If you don’t have breakdown cover, you won’t necessarily be fined by the police. However, it is likely that you will be charged around £150 for towing a car if the police are called to recover your vehicle from a motorway.
Additionally, failing to arrange alternative transport for your journey is likely to cost you as much as a fine if that is your only means of transport. Therefore, taking out a breakdown insurance policy may end up being more cost-effective in the long run.
14. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T BUY BREAKDOWN COVER?
If you choose not to have breakdown cover, then you may be faced with a hefty bill should your car break down. For example, if your car requires a major repair, you could be forced to pay £800 or more for the vehicle to be recovered to the garage and repaired.
Under a breakdown policy, your insurer will either pay the cost of repairs or will recover your car from the garage and pay the mechanic directly. This is extremely convenient if you’re stuck on the road, as you’ll be protected from any unexpected bills.
15. CAN I CANCEL MY BREAKDOWN COVER ONCE I’VE SIGNED UP?
It is almost certain that you can cancel your breakdown cover plan once you’ve signed up; however, it is dependent on the policy. You should check your contract to see if there are any time limits on your policy and how long the cancellation process should take.
16. WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO FIND A GOOD BREAKDOWN COVER PROVIDER?
It can be daunting choosing a new provider for breakdown cover because there are so many options out there and each one provides different benefits for you. The primary reason you would want to buy a breakdown policy is to provide a safety net when disaster strikes, so it is worth shopping around and finding the best provider for you.
Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare quotes from different providers; you may find that you get a better deal by switching providers.
17. ARE THERE ANY HIDDEN COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH GETTING BREAKDOWN COVER?
The majority of the time, you will not be required to pay an excess. This means that your mechanic will attempt to repair your vehicle, and if this isn’t possible, it will be taken to a garage without additional cost to you.
However, some providers do impose an excess fee, in which case you will need to pay this when you claim. Be sure to talk to your provider when taking out the policy to ensure there are no hidden costs and that they will recover your vehicle without incurring extra charges.
18. WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE A SPECIFIC BREAKDOWN COVER PROVIDER OVER ANOTHER?
Although so many providers offer breakdown cover, not all of them provide the same cover or have the same prices. When shopping around, it is a good idea to consider who offers the best breakdown insurance policy for you.
For example, one company might offer a cheaper premium but a higher excess fee, while another may offer a higher premium but a lower excess fee. Make sure you ask plenty of questions when taking out a policy to ensure that you are getting exactly what you want from the provider.
19. WHICH TYPE OF BREAKDOWN COVER SHOULD I BUY?
There are many different types of breakdown covers available for your car, van, or motorcycle.
Each one offers a different level of cover at a different price. It can be tempting to go for the cheapest policy, but this may mean that you don’t get the level of cover that you need if you do have a problem on the road. A policy that provides a new replacement vehicle is more expensive than one that provides you with a recovery vehicle, but this may prove to be a wise investment if anything happens to your vehicle.
It is worth speaking to a representative from a breakdown cover provider to discuss your needs and budget so that they can recommend the best policy for your situation and can provide you with a quote.
20. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RENEW MY BREAKDOWN COVER?
This will all depend on your provider and the type of plan you purchased. It is best to speak to them to find out; usually, they will give you all of this information upfront when quoting you in the first place.
And they should notify you of any upcoming price increases before charging you. That way you can decide whether or not to continue with the same level of cover.
21. DO ALL BREAKDOWN COVER PROVIDERS PROVIDE 24-HOUR EMERGENCY CALL-OUTS?
Not all providers of breakdown cover offer 24-hour emergency call-outs as standard, so make sure you check this. You can find out if you will be covered at all times by looking at all the terms and conditions of the policy.
To summarise, there are lots of different types of breakdown cover available on the market today. In addition to basic cover, some companies offer additional benefits such as free roadside assistance, legal expense protection, and even hire cars.
Feel free to contact one of our friendly team members if you have any other questions that aren’t answered above.