Breakdown Cover Explained

Breakdown cover may not be a legal obligation like car insurance, but failing to purchase it could still result in a very large unexpected expense which could financially cripple you.

However, there are many different levels of breakdown cover available and not all of it will necessarily provide you with the kind of protection which you might expect.

Vehicle or personal
When purchasing breakdown cover you will be given the choice of either a personal or vehicle specific policy.

With individual breakdown cover policies, the policy holder themselves will be able to call out breakdown cover services in the event of a car failure regardless of what vehicle they are in; even if they are the passenger in another person’s motor.

Meanwhile with vehicle specific, anyone driving the car named on the policy will be covered. This can work out as the cheaper option for couples who only own one car. However, the most cost effective option is of course dependent upon your own personal situation.

Levels of cover
Most breakdown cover providers will have four different levels of cover available, but the names assigned to them may be slightly different.

The most basic package will usually guarantee to send out recovery services to fix the policy holders vehicle at the side of the road or tow it to the nearest garage if the repairs required are too extensive. There will usually be stipulations placed on the maximum amount of time and financial resources the provider is willing to put into each call out, and it is therefore worth checking this out when shopping around.

Another clause commonly placed in this deal is that the provider will only attend to call outs when a breakdown has occurred a certain number of miles away from home; with the provider not agreeing to come out for any breakdowns which occur within a couple of miles of the policy holders house for instance.

This most basic level of cover will also not agree to transport the policy holder and other vehicle occupants to the destination of their choice however; with this luxury only being afforded in the next level of cover up.

If you feel that having your breakdown cover policy cover you in the event of car failures at home is important then you should opt for the third level of cover which is normally termed ‘Home Start’.

The fourth and most comprehensive package available through the majority of providers is usually called ‘onward travel’ or something equivalent. It is basically all of the luxuries afforded in the three before mention levels of cover rolled into one. In addition to this the provider will also pay any accommodation or car hire expenses which come about as a result of the breakdown; ensuring that any inconvenience caused by the breakdown is as small as possible. Of course, this will be more expensive than the three less comprehensive levels of cover and it is therefore up to the policy holder whether or not they consider it worth the additional expense.

European cover
Contrary to popular opinion, you will not always be afforded the same protection levels if you venture overseas in your car. Some providers who place greater emphasis on quality will offer a limited number of days where policy holders will have the same levels of protection as they would in the UK, but this is not offered by the majority.

If you are planning on taking your vehicle abroad it is therefore advised that you opt for a dedicated European breakdown cover policy. In exchange for paying a little bit extra each year, this can be included as an additional feature on any of the four before mentioned types of breakdown cover policy.

Going without European breakdown cover can be highly stressful, because if a breakdown occurs you will be forced to source out a local garage and potentially converse in a language in which you are unfamiliar. Add on to this the potential repair bill and the money that has been set aside for you holiday expenses could begin to look painfully inadequate; potentially cutting short your vacation.

Getting the right deal
It may well be worth committing yourself to the annual minor expense which comes with breakdown cover in order to avoid the potential catastrophic and unexpected expenses which could result through a car failure. However, as has been mentioned the deal which is the best value for money is of course dependent upon the policy holders own situation and sought after benefits.

However, you don’t have to pay more than is absolutely necessary and it is worth shopping around in order to make sure that you are obtaining the cheapest version of the package you require. You will increase the statistical likelihood of achieving this, as well as saving yourself time, by utilising the MoneySupermarket breakdown cover website which compares deals available through some of the UK’s leading providers.