As the weather gets colder, there’s a greater chance that your car may experience problems. And if your vehicle decides to conk out, you might wish you had breakdown cover in place.
If you don’t already have breakdown cover, here’s a recap of why you might want to consider adding it to your car insurance.
WHAT IS BREAKDOWN COVER?
Breakdown cover is a paid service which provides help if your car breaks down, this could be at the side of the road, or while still parked at home. Usually, you need to have a higher level of breakdown cover to get assistance at home, but it’s best to check the policy details carefully.
Let’s say, for example, it’s a cold morning and your vehicle won’t start. Or your car gets a flat tyre on the motorway, and you need to pull over to the hard shoulder. If you have the appropriate level of breakdown cover, you can call your provider and they'll send assistance to help you out.
A lot of breakdowns can be fixed on the spot. And if it’s not a long-term fix, a mechanic should be able to get the car started, so you can drive to a garage, where you’ll be able to arrange a more permanent repair.
If the mechanic has no joy in getting your car back on the road, they’ll usually tow you to a local garage. Or – depending on the level of cover you have – they may be able to tow you to the garage nearest to your home. As cover levels vary between providers, make sure you check the details carefully and get the cover you need.
WHAT DOES BREAKDOWN COVER INCLUDE?
Most breakdown services offer different levels of cover, with the most basic providing 24/7 roadside assistance if you’re beyond a certain distance from home – typically ¼ mile.
The mechanic will be able to provide a certain amount of roadside labour until the problem’s fixed, or at least there’s a temporary fix in place.
If they’re unable to fix the problem, they’ll tow you either to your home or the nearest garage, depending on your level of cover.
These are some of the common extras you’ll get if you pay for a higher level of breakdown cover:
- Home assistance or home start: A standard breakdown policy usually only covers you if you’re away from home. With this extra cover, you can have assistance where you live, or within a certain distance from it. This could prove useful if your car doesn’t start in the morning, for instance.
- Onward transport: If the breakdown service is unable to fix your car, onward transport pays for you and your passengers to get to your destination. For example, you might get a taxi back home, or a hire car to take you to your intended destination.
- European breakdown cover: This provides the same assistance you’d get in the UK, but on the continent, trip limits are likely to apply.
WHAT ISN’T COVERED BY BREAKDOWN COVER?
There are certain things you may not be covered for on a breakdown policy:
- The cost of any replacement parts isn’t covered.
- You won’t be covered if the car isn’t in a roadworthy condition.
- If the breakdown service has already attended to the fault, you won’t be covered if you haven’t had it properly repaired, or if you’ve failed to follow their advice.
WHY DO I NEED BREAKDOWN COVER?
You don’t need breakdown cover, in the sense that it isn’t mandatory. But we’ve all seen someone waiting at the side of the road with their broken down car, feeling grateful it’s not us.
Breaking down can be nerve-racking. Especially if you’re somewhere unfamiliar, and there’s a high volume of traffic. Having breakdown cover can give you added reassurance that you won’t be left stranded on the roadside, or have to abandon your vehicle.
If your car does breakdown, and you don’t have a breakdown policy, it could also be expensive to get your car recovered. According to garage-finding website WhoCanFixMyCar, the average breakdown and recovery cost is £101.60.
N.B This is the average cost according to WhoCanFixMyCar when booked via them. Note - costs may change over time; correct as at 15th December 2022.
Plus, the costs can quickly rack up if you’re unlucky enough to breakdown on a bank holiday, for instance.
Lastly, having breakdown cover removes the stress of having to find someone unexpectedly to help– you’ll have a number which you can call 24/7.
IS BREAKDOWN COVER INCLUDED IN MY CAR INSURANCE?
Breakdown cover is sometimes available as an add-on to your car insurance. Don’t assume that you’re covered for breakdowns with your regular car insurance policy. You’ll usually have to pay extra.
If you take out car insurance with Rias, you can add one of four levels of optional breakdown cover, powered by the RAC, which claims first place in Auto Express’s ranking of best breakdown cover 2021/22 , based on a survey of its readers.
Rias breakdown cover includes:
Find out more about Rias breakdown cover
The other option is to buy a standalone breakdown policy. If you’re with Rias, then while we don’t offer standalone cover, it’s easy to add breakdown cover with the RAC to your existing or new car insurance policy.
When comparing breakdown services, it’s worth weighing up not only the price, but also customer reviews or information about how long they’ll typically take to get to you.