Breakdown Cover: Good Financial Investment or Waste of Money?

Breakdown Cover Becoming Increasingly Complex

From a consumer standpoint, one of the biggest difficulties with breakdown cover is the fact that is becoming increasingly more complex. Unlike more standard insurance policies like car and home insurance, there really is no hard and fast standard for breakdown cover. What a particular product offers depends solely on the whims of the provider.

That being the case, it is usually incumbent upon the consumer to "build" his or her own breakdown cover based on his or her particular needs. A good place to start is with home start. This type of breakdown insurance provides roadside assistance even when your car breaks down at home. According to experts, this is important because a majority of breakdown issues are discovered when a car owner attempts to leave the house for the day.

Another important cover option, especially for families, is coverage that allows you to continue your journey should a breakdown occur during travel. This type of cover offers a rental car or immediate repairs so you can continue on your way. This type of cover has saved more than one family holiday.

Pay and Reclaim Cover

According to The Guardian, a fully comprehensive breakdown product can be prohibitively expensive despite all the benefits it offers. For those who do not mind a little paperwork they recommend something known as "pay and reclaim" cover. This type of breakdown cover is a full-fledged breakdown insurance policy that costs a little less because of the way it is structured.

With pay and reclaim, the consumer pays the company that provides roadside assistance directly out-of-pocket. He is then be reimbursed by filing claims with his insurance provider. This method saves money because it forces consumers to shop around for roadside assistance providers rather than simply choosing the most expensive one.

The obvious concern about pay and reclaim is the fact that it requires consumers to be on the ball. It is probably not a good option for those who find paperwork difficult or complicated. For those who do not mind the paperwork then pay and reclaim is less expensive.

Fully Comprehensive Breakdown

The fully comprehensive breakdown option is the most expensive but also involves the least amount of hassle. This type of cover allows the consumer to simply call the provider in the event of any type of breakdown and then forget about it. The insurance provider arranges for the roadside assistance and pays that service directly.

There are some limits to fully comprehensive coverage depending on the provider you choose. For example, some companies limit home start service to a specific monetary amount. When limits are applied, they are generally calculated according to the age and mileage of the vehicle being covered.

In addition to age and vehicle mileage breakdown insurance providers have been known to take into account the age and sex of the primary driver. For example, a car that is only a few years old and driven by a middle-aged male with a good driving record will be less expensive than an older vehicle driven by a young person. Just like standard car insurance, it all comes down to risk.

You May Already be Covered

If you have a newer car and are content with just basic breakdown cover, you may already be covered under your standard motor policy. Many insurance companies are using basic breakdown cover as a marketing tool to compete for new customers. If you already have basic coverage that meets your needs, why pay extra for it?

On the other hand, the basic breakdown cover offered by your motoring policy may not offer you anything substantial. In such a case, you would want the extra cover. Nevertheless, consider purchasing your breakdown cover from your current car insurance company. You might get a better deal by bundling the two together.

In either case, it is important to understand what you are getting when you purchase breakdown cover. For example, did you know that some policies limit the number of call-outs allowed on an annual basis? A standard rule of thumb is a six, though some insurance companies go as low as two or three.

Another thing to consider is the advertised call out time. This may not be helpful in choosing a provider seeing that most breakdown insurance companies advertised a 30 to 45 minute wait. Nevertheless, you can look at online reviews to find out what real customers are saying. A company offering breakdown cover that takes in excess of 60 minutes for service to arrive may prove to be more trouble than it is worth.

When Breakdown Cover Is Most Helpful

One of the last things to consider when trying to decide whether to purchase breakdown cover is how often you might find yourself in circumstances where it would be beneficial. Below are some common scenarios in which breakdown cover tends to be a very good thing:

  • Winter Driving - Let's face it, there are plenty of drivers in the UK with very little experience in winter driving. Yet winter driving brings with it certain hazards that make us more prone to breakdown. If you do a lot of winter driving of any distance, breakdown cover might be your friend.
  • Holiday Driving - Travelling domestically is very attractive during times of a weak economy. Therefore, it makes sense that domestic holidays involving car travel have become very popular in the UK over the last several years. In such cases breakdown cover can be just as important as travel insurance. Especially if you have a family and an older car.
  • Vehicle Lockouts - If you have ever had the misfortune of locking yourself out of your car, you know what a hassle that can be. Breakdown cover can provide a roadside assistance vehicle along with a technician experienced in helping you get into your locked vehicle. This is a great option for those who work nights and really do not want to be caught locked out of their vehicle at the midnight hour.
  • Covering Senior Drivers - Breakdown cover is a great idea if you have older parents still driving regularly. If you do not live in the same town, it can mean the difference between getting them immediate help or you having to drive a distance to rescue them. Moreover, even if you do live in the same town then it is certainly more convenient for them to call their insurance company rather than you.
  • Covering the Young Drivers - Young drivers often lack the experience to know what to do in the event of a breakdown. That lack of experience can cause unnecessary panic that makes a bad situation worse. Breakdown cover gives both you and your young driver some added peace of mind. The convenience it provides is beneficial as well.


The idea behind breakdown cover is to make sure you have access to emergency roadside assistance without being extremely heavy on your budget. It can be a very good product in some situations, yet something you do not need in others. Should you decide breakdown cover is right for you then be sure to ask plenty of questions so you fully understand what you are purchasing before you spend your hard-earned money.

You can purchase breakdown cover directly from insurance providers if you prefer. To get you started heading in the right direction, here are links to well-known companies offering this type of insurance:

RAC - As one of the UK's first names in breakdown cover, the RAC offers policies starting at £29.95. They operate their own road patrols capable of fixing four of every five cars rescued.

AA - This is the other big name in UK breakdown cover. The AA offers options starting at just £36, their own dedicated patrol fleet, and up to six months free home rescue service.

Green Flag - Consumers have five levels of cover to choose from with Green Flag. Prices start at just £20; the company offers a 33% online discount for their most expensive option.

Autonational Rescue - With this company, you get quality breakdown cover with some added bonuses. They offer a no claim discount as well as an additional 25% discount at your first renewal if you reported no breakdowns in your first year.

A great way to find a good deal on breakdown cover is to compare multiple policies using a financial services comparison website. Here are links to some great comparison sites where you will find many options for breakdown cover:

Go Compare - Offering breakdown cover for cars, vans, and motorbikes from well-known companies like Autonational and Swiftcover. All policies include roadside assistance and local recovery as a standard.

Money Supermarket - Here you can get breakdown quotes from more than 10 companies the site partners with. They also have an option for European breakdown cover for your travel outside the UK. - In mere minutes, you can get competitive breakdown cover quotes from this site. Choose from several options including basic cover and continental cover.

Compare the Market - Offering multiple quotes for basic car cover, home start, onward travel, and more. Just fill out a simple, online form and you are on your way.

Tesco Compare - Get a quote on breakdown cover through this website's partner, Comparison Creator. A direct link is provided.

uSwitch - This site compares prices of nine different policies from multiple providers. The lowest cost option starts at just £5 annually. - Here you can get quotes for more than 420 policies from the biggest names in UK breakdown cover. You can also refine your search based on certain criteria.

Money Saving Expert - Everything you need to know about purchasing breakdown cover can be found here. This site takes the time to answer the most frequently asked questions.