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Breakdown cover

Compare cheap car breakdown cover

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Compare breakdown policies

It’s easy to compare cheap breakdown quotes online with MoneySuperMarket. Simply fill out a few details about yourself and your vehicle, and you’ll be able to compare quotes quickly.

  • It doesn’t take long

    Pop in details like your address, property type, and any extra policies you want and you’ll get a breakdown cover quote

  • We’ll search for savings

    We’ll show you which breakdown cover quotes are the cheapest along with other features, and give you an easy way to compare policies.

  • Get covered

    Once you’ve found a policy you like, you can call or click through to apply for your new breakdown cover directly with the insurer.

What is breakdown cover?

Breakdown cover is a type of insurance you take out in case your vehicle breaks down. It’s sometimes also called breakdown and recovery.

It can be useful if your car, van or motorcycle gets a flat car battery or a punctured tyre as well as more severe faults. Breakdown cover means you won’t be left stranded on the roadside without a working vehicle.

If your breakdown insurer cannot repair your vehicle roadside they will tow you – called ‘recovery’ – somewhere that can fix it or to your home for you.

You can generally buy breakdown cover as an individual policy, however it’s also offered by some providers as part of your motor insurance. It can even come included with some bank accounts – you should check whether you’re getting breakdown cover from any other sources before taking it out.


What types of breakdown cover are there?

There are two main types of breakdown cover you’ll be able to purchase. You can choose between:

  • Personal cover

    Personal cover means the breakdown policy applies to you as an individual. This means you’ll be covered for any car if you’re driving or riding passenger, as long as it meets the requirements set out in your policy

  • Vehicle cover

    Vehicle cover is when the breakdown policy applies to a specific vehicle, which means you'll be able to get assistance regardless of who is driving the car when it breaks down

What’s covered by a breakdown policy?

The level of coverage you get from your breakdown policy depends on what you take out:

  • 1

    Roadside assistance or local cover

    A basic level of breakdown cover, this is when your provider sends out a mechanic and recovery vehicle to try and repair your vehicle roadside. If they can’t repair it, they’ll normally tow it to a nearby garage

  • 2

    At-home breakdown

    At-home breakdown cover means you’ll be able to get a call out if your car is broken down at home, or sometimes within a short distance of your home.

  • 3

    Vehicle recovery or national cover

    With vehicle recovery as part of your breakdown cover you’ll be able to choose any location for you and your vehicle to be towed to if your vehicle can’t be fixed

  • 4

    Onward travel

    If you break down you’ll have more options available to help you on your way, such as courtesy vehicles, accommodation, or alternative travel arrangements.

The number of callouts you’ll be able to make on your policy will depend on your provider and the level of cover you want to take out. Some providers offer a certain number of free callouts a year, which means if you want to make any more you’ll have to pay a fee, while others offer unlimited throughout the year.

If you’re travelling abroad for a short while, you can take out a single trip European breakdown policy so you’ll be covered for the duration of your trip. If you aren’t a regular traveller, this could be more cost effective than taking out coverage for an entire year.

If your car breaks down and you haven’t got a breakdown policy, you can buy instant breakdown cover at the side of the road and your new provider will send someone to come and fix your vehicle.

Use our website to find a provider and call them directly to arrange cover. You can’t buy instant cover online and must speak to an advisor on the phone.

Breakdown cover policies can come with at-home breakdown cover, which means you’ll be able to call for assistance if your car breaks down at, or within a short distance from, your home.

This could happen for a number of reasons – for example, cold weather can lead to your engine oil becoming too thick, while leaving your headlamps on could result in a flat battery.

However at-home cover isn’t usually a standard inclusion, so it’s best to read over any policy documents before taking out a deal.

You will normally always be able to cancel your breakdown cover policy. Many providers offer a cooling-down period, usually around 14 days, in which you can cancel your policy without any charges.

However if you want to cancel after this period, you may have to pay a cancellation or administration fee to end your policy early.

If you break down whilst driving there are a few steps you should follow – however they can differ depending on whether you’re on a quiet road or the motorway. Read our guide to learn more about what to do when you break down.

When you take out a breakdown policy, you’ll usually have the option to add cover for misplaced keys or when you top up with the wrong fuel.

Breakdown policies can also come with some exclusions, though these will depend on the provider and the level of cover you take out. Check your policy documents for the following:

  • Breaking down on private land

  • Breaking down with animals or pets

  • Breaking down because of an accident

  • Breaking down because of neglect  

Some breakdown policies will include cover for breaking down abroad as standard, while others may only offer it as an add-on you can choose to take out. You may even be able to add this level of cover at any point during your policy term, though it’s likely you’ll have to pay more.

You should also check to see what countries are covered – for example, the locations included in a European breakdown policy may differ depending on the provider you choose.

Most providers will also let you add other people to your policy, which can be useful for families or households with more than one driver. You’ll also have the option with most providers to add extra cars to your policy with multi-car breakdown cover, however this could affect the premiums you pay.

If you drive a van, you’ll be able to take out a breakdown cover policy that will cover you for your vehicle. This can be especially important for commercial vans, where a van breakdown policy can help you get back on the road and minimise any disruption to your business.

You’ll also be able to cover your van if you’re driving across the Channel with European van breakdown cover. However you should check with your insurer to make sure which countries are covered by the policy as this can sometimes differ between breakdown cover providers.

Many insurers also offer cover for your motorbike or moped if it breaks down. You can take out a motorcycle breakdown policy that offers the same levels of cover as a car breakdown policy, from basic roadside assistance to onward travel.

If you plan on taking your two-wheeler to the European mainland, you’ll be able to take out European motorcycle breakdown cover. This can be useful for long biking trips in sunny Spain or the Alps in Austria, where language barriers might make it harder to get local help.

Classic cars might not be covered by a standard breakdown policy, usually because they’re too old or rare, with parts that are hard to replace. Taking out classic car breakdown cover can be helpful for when you take your prized possession out for a drive, so you can show it off with peace of mind that you’ll be covered if it breaks down. 

Different breakdown cover providers are likely to have different requirements and standards, including the maximum age of the vehicle. However when you compare quotes on MoneySuperMarket, you’ll tell us how old the vehicle is and we can show you a list of providers that can offer you cover.

Many breakdown providers include a clause that prevents you from claiming immediately, mainly to prevent people from only taking out breakdown cover at the last minute. However this may not be the case with all providers – it’s best to carefully read over policy documents before taking out a deal, so you know what you’ll be covered for.

Most providers will offer you the option of paying either monthly or annually, depending on your preference. However it’s worth keeping an eye out for any price differences, as you might be able to save money by paying in a particular way with certain providers.

If you need breakdown assistance for a vehicle towing a caravan or another kind of special vehicle, it’s likely a standard policy won’t cover you. Some providers do offer policies that will cover you for caravans, trailers, and similar vehicles, but they’ll generally cost extra.

If the mechanic sent out by your provider isn’t able to repair your vehicle roadside, the next step will depend on your level of cover. They’ll either take it to a local garage or a garage you’ve chosen anywhere in the country.

However if no garages are open, they may offer to take the car to a chosen location, generally your home, before collecting it again when the local garage is open. You should check with your provider if you think there is a chance you’ll be on the road late at night.

Cars can occasionally break down with much warning, but sometimes the cause of the problem is something you can fix with proper car maintenance. However different issues can come up depending on simple things like the weather.

For instance, in summer the hot weather can aggravate tyre issues as well as causing your car to overheat.

Likewise in the winter, liquids in your car such as oil and water be affected by lower temperatures. There might also be issues relating to your windscreen and tyre tread.

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