How to find cheap breakdown cover for students

If you’re looking for student breakdown cover, it can be hard to find a policy within your budget. There are many different types of breakdown cover available on the market, and finding one with an affordable price can be difficult. 

However, if you have student status within the UK and you’re struggling to find a roadside assistance policy with an attractive price, we’re here to help.

At Finance Rate, we’re experts at what we do, providing useful information about all areas of finance. One of the main areas we focus on is breakdown cover, providing you with all the information you could possibly need to choose the perfect policy.

In this guide, we’ll give you our top tips to help you find a cheaper price for your student breakdown cover. 

Shop around for student breakdown cover offers

The first thing you should do when looking for cheap student breakdown cover is to shop around. There are hundreds of experienced breakdown cover companies based around the UK, offering different services and features. Comparison sites like Money Supermarket and Compare the Market can also be useful for comparing prices and policies.

The big three roadside assistance companies offering these services are:

These brands are highly experienced breakdown cover companies, with each one having a large fleet of recovery vehicles spread across the UK. For example, The AA is currently offering personal breakdown cover from just £7.50 a month, which is quite an affordable price for most people. 

The RAC beats The AA slightly with their basic cover, which the company states is available from £6.50 per month. Green Flag’s Rescue cover is available from £83 per year which breaks down to just over £6.91 per month. However, this entry-level cover is rather limited, and you would need to spend more to get a more comprehensive policy.

Consider what’s essential for your policy 

As you can see, cheap breakdown cover is readily available if you’re on a budget. However, you need to be aware that these prices only apply to basic roadside assistance policies, containing limited features. Other packages and optional extras can be added on, but these items will bump the price up rapidly. It’s important to work out which additional items you believe to be essential before comparing prices.

For example, most basic level breakdown recovery policies won’t include business breakdown cover or lost key replacements. You’ll also need to pay extra if you’d like courtesy car cover for a replacement vehicle to use when your own is being repaired.

In more comprehensive breakdown packages, you’ll usually get the following features included:

  • Home Start Cover – In most cases, basic roadside cover doesn’t include issues that occur outside/near your home. With Home Start Cover, faults at your home will be included – for example, if you have a flat battery and you need a jump start to get going again.
  • National Recovery – With basic forms of roadside assistance, you’ll usually be towed to the nearest garage. When you include National Recovery within your package, you will instead be taken to a place of your choosing within the UK, regardless of location or distance.
  • Onward Travel – With Onward Travel, your provider will give you a solution for getting to your destination without your car. You’ll often be given a courtesy car to use, but it’s not unheard of to be granted hotels and train tickets either
  • Key replacement services – If you lose your keys or you lock them inside your car, your provider will send out a technician to let you back into your vehicle, as well as providing a new set of keys. 
  • Unlimited call-outs – With most cheap breakdown protection policies, you’ll have a set amount of call-outs. Once this limit has been reached, you’ll usually have to upgrade your plan for additional call-outs (or there may be excess call-out charges). However, if you have a more comprehensive cover level, you may be entitled to unlimited call-outs.

This is not a definitive list, as every policy and provider will be slightly different. You should also check with your vehicle insurance provider, as some policies may also include basic breakdown cover as part of your plan.

You may find cheaper deals at nearby garages that offer roadside assistance. Whilst smaller breakdown insurance companies may have fewer vehicles in their call-out fleet, you may be able to get a cheaper deal.It’s well worth looking into, especially if you only plan on using your car for trips in an easily accessible area for a local garage’s smaller fleet to recover. 

If your family already has a family breakdown cover plan, you may be able to join their policy. However, in order to use family cover, you often have to be living at the same address in order to make a claim. If you’re a student that comes home during the holidays, your family home may technically still be classed as your permanent residence, but this is something you should check first.

Research student discounts

As a student, you’ll likely be well aware of the exclusive discounts you can get, particularly if you have an NUS card. You may find that there are some companies offering student breakdown cover, so it’s worth doing some research to find out what’s available to you.

We’ve had a quick look online ourselves, and we’ve found one specific breakdown provider offering an online discount for students called Motoring Assistance.

The only catch is that you need to have a Totum student card to take advantage of this discount. However, if you have one of these cards, you’ll get 50% off breakdown policies held with breakdown company Motoring Assistance. We’re not sure if this offer is time limited, but you may find other student offers online if you conduct some research.

Pay upfront and shop around before your renewal date

In some ways, emergency assistance policies are a lot like car insurance. Whilst they clearly cover different things, they work in similar ways.

Car insurance companies have a reputation for increasing your premiums when you come to renew your policy. They often offer a renewal quote that is much higher than the price you paid the year before. If you shop around, you may be able to find a cheaper price for the same level of cover. You may even be able to haggle with your existing provider for a cheaper price.

The same is true with most roadside assistance policies. Statistics from Money Saving Expert show that the RAC has increased breakdown renewal prices for existing customers by up to 30% in some cases, hoping the policy rolls over without the customer noticing the price hike. 

If this happens to you, you should research some cheaper breakdown cover quotes from other companies, before contacting your current supplier to try and haggle the price down. If they won’t budge, then you could consider going with one of the new companies you’ve received a quote from.

Like car insurance, it’s also much cheaper to pay for your policy in one annual payment, instead of via direct debit monthly payments. There are often extra charges for direct debit payments on breakdown cover due to the interest, creating additional costs when you pay each month.

Do I need student breakdown cover?

The short answer to this question is no, you don’t need to have breakdown cover if you don’t want it. Unlike car insurance, roadside assistance policies are not a legal requirement of driving a vehicle. If your car is maintained and serviced regularly, it’s unlikely it will break down, although not impossible.

However, emergency assistance could come in handy if your vehicle develops a serious fault and you get stuck somewhere. If you’re planning on travelling a lot or you need to drive to and from university often, taking out a roadside assistance policy may be a good idea. Breaking down is never fun, particularly if you get stuck on the motorway!

Not only will you have to pay the cost of fixing your car, but you’ll also have to pay for a recovery operator to take you and your car to a garage for repairs. This is usually more expensive if you’re not covered by a policy, or if you have a basic level of cover that doesn’t entitle you to this option. 

Whilst you’re not legally required to take out roadside assistance on your car, it’s still recommended, as it could save you more money in the long run if your car suddenly develops a fault. 

Protect your journey with Finance Rate

As we’ve discussed, there are several different ways you can reduce your student breakdown cover to find a cheaper price. Whilst roadside assistance isn’t legally required, most car owners consider it to be a necessity, as the cost of breaking down without a policy is often much more expensive.

At Finance Rate, we’re experts in the world of money, offering solutions and free advice to those that need it. We have a vast amount of information available about breakdown cover on our website – all you need to do is head to our Sitemap, and you’ll be able to view everything you need. 

If you’re concerned about your vehicle breaking down, you might want to consider browsing through our breakdown kit checklist to ensure you’re always as prepared as possible.