Do I Need Breakdown Cover?

If you are someone who has never had an issue with your car, you may be asking yourself: Do I need breakdown cover?

We understand breakdown cover can cost a lot of money and if you’ve never had a problem, you may feel like you don’t need it.

Here at Finance Rate, we want to be your trusted resource for all of your finance queries, whether that be what kind of bank account to get or, as with this guide, if you need breakdown cover.

We believe everyone deserves access to clear and unbiased financial advice so all of our handy guides are free!

Without further ado, let’s see if you actually need breakdown cover.

Let’s start at the beginning: What is breakdown cover?

Breakdown cover is a type of insurance that helps you get back on the road if your vehicle decides to break down. You can get breakdown cover for various types of vehicles, including:

There are different types of breakdown covers available which, naturally, fluctuate in price. The various levels of cover offer different things. For example, as can be gathered by the name, basic breakdown cover offers the most minimal level of insurance, whereas national recovery offers more to the owner.

Is it illegal to not have breakdown cover?

In short, no. It is not a legal requirement to have breakdown cover – it is something you choose to have. If you do decide it isn’t for you, that’s okay.

However, if you find you have broken down on the motorway or on the side of the road in the early hours of the morning – and, as this is the UK, more than likely in the rain – you may be wishing that you had a breakdown cover provider to call rather than having to personally ring the nearest approved garages hoping somebody will pick up!

Overall, no matter the level of breakdown cover you choose to go for, it will at least provide you with the peace of mind that if something were to happen to your vehicle, you have someone to call when you need help. 

How expensive is breakdown cover?

In a similar vein to other types of insurance, for breakdown cover you pay a set amount either annually or each month. The amount you pay depends on the level of cover you opt for. Usually, there are five different levels of breakdown cover:

The level of breakdown cover:What’s included in this breakdown cover?
Roadside assistanceThe most basic policy of breakdown cover available.
Home start (also known as home rescue)This is for when you break down close to home – or even in your very own driveway!
Onward travel (also known as onward journey)This type of cover ensures you aren’t stranded if you break down far from your destination.
National recoveryIf your broken down vehicle is unable to be repaired on the roadside, this level of cover means you can be taken anywhere in the UK for repairs.
European coverAs can be guessed, this level of breakdown cover is for when you are travelling across Europe.

As is to be expected, the cheapest breakdown policies are basic cover, which are typically around £5 per month. However, this is dependent on the breakdown company – so we recommend using comparison sites like MoneySuperMarket or Compare the Market, or shopping around to find the lowest price. 

If you are looking to get a better deal, some insurance providers offer discounts if you choose to pay annually rather than monthly. Plus, throughout the year they may have sales or discounts which could save you money in the long run.

Does the type of vehicle influence the cost of breakdown cover?

Yes, and this is true in multiple senses. For example, more often than not, the larger the vehicle, the larger the cost of your breakdown cover.

Plus, if you have an older vehicle, this can also impact the price of your breakdown cover, as an older vehicle is far more likely to have issues with it, potentially causing more breakdowns and subsequently, more claims on your breakdown cover policy.

If you want to reduce the cost of your breakdown cover, you could wait for a flash sale from one of the cover providers to get a reduced price. 

What happens if I break down without cover?

The stress you may feel from the thought of this alone may be enough to convince you to take out breakdown cover. However, if you do find yourself in this situation, there are some things you can do to make it slightly less stressful.

You can:

  • Contact the nearest garage 
  • Ring one of the trusted breakdown providers
  • Call the emergency services (only if in a serious situation, of course).

It is possible to buy breakdown cover when you find yourself stuck on the side of the road, however, not all providers allow you to use the cover for the first 24 hours, or sometimes longer. 

Would it be cheaper for me to do a one-off callout?

Usually, garages charge £40 for a callout plus an additional cost on top of that if your vehicle has to be towed back to the garage. If this is the case, you’ll need to find alternative transport to get you home or onward to your destination, which can also cost you more. 

So, technically, it could be cheaper but this depends on a number of factors, including the issue with your car, if it has to be towed, as well as any repairs that need to be made.

If you can’t get hold of a nearby garage, you may have to get hold of National Highways, which will charge you a lot more for a callout.

Feel confident in your financial decisions with Finance Rate

Here at Finance Rate, we’re dedicated to giving you easy, digestible, and free information on a wide range of financial topics. From helping you navigate pensions to mortgages and bank accounts for business, we want to help you feel confident in the decisions you make about your financial future. 

You can find our useful guides on our homepage and discover how to make the best financial decisions for your future.