Breakdown cover is a practical way to ensure that your car stays on the road - here we give you all the information you need to find the right product to suit your needs.
It is a good idea to obtain breakdown cover if you regularly travel by car. It is a practical way to ensure that you get a fast and efficient service should you have a breakdown and can give you peace of mind whether you're just travelling to the local shops or driving long-distance on the continent.
There are a growing number of breakdown cover providers, and the range of products they offer are ostensibly similar with mostly standardised features and benefits. However, there are a number of, often subtle, differences between policies that can affect the price you pay and the cover you receive. This breakdown recovery guide is provided to help you choose between policies and providers so that you can ensure that you acquire decent breakdown cover that suits your needs.
Breakdown cover pricing
One of the most significant differences between breakdown cover providers is the way in which their pricing system operates; understanding how each company prices their products and which system suits your particular situation can play an important part in keeping the cost down. First, you need to decide whether you want cover for yourself or your car; since some companies provide policies that cover the member no matter what car they are in (even if they are just a passenger, in many cases), whilst others cover the vehicle itself - this can often present better value for families who share a car, for example, than family membership policies that cover each family member. Some providers offer predetermined, vehicle-based premiums, while others calculate policy prices through criteria such as your vehicle's age, your average annual mileage and the age of the policy holder. In the case of the latter, this generally means that if you or your car is seen as 'high risk' your premium will be a lot higher, and you would be better off shopping around for a fixed-price system (and, therefore, conversely if you are 'low risk', this may be the cheapest option). The vast majority of breakdown cover providers offer an automatic system through which they send out their own patrols to deal with vehicle breakdowns or tow them to a local garage for repair. This type of system is very convenient and practical but the membership premiums can be quite expensive. However, there are a few companies who offer a 'pay and claim' service in which they arrange for a local recovery firm to deal with the situation, you pay for your garage repairs and/or recovery costs and then reclaim the expenses back from your provider. This system is not as common, and certainly not as convenient, but it can provide some degree of cover at a much lower price. Make sure you check out any discounts on offer. Some companies operate no claims discount systems for returning customers through which you can make substantial savings. Others offer online discounts, limited-period seasonal offers and a few grant substantially discounted premiums to customers with new or nearly new cars.
Breakdown cover tips
Consider whetherit is more beneficial to cover yourself or your vehicle.
If you are a 'high-risk' customer (e.g. most providers assume that younger people will make more call outs) then you might get better value cover with a company that has fixed vehicle-based prices.
Always check the small print to see what is covered by a policy. If you are unsure about anything always contact the provider before you buy.
'Pay and claim' policies are harder to find and less convenient but generally work out much cheaper.
Beware of policies that promise 'free' European cover and other complimentary features as they will usually be built into the premium price.
Buy online when possible (it is usually cheaper) and try to take advantage of limited-period deals which are regularly offered by the major breakdown cover providers.