There are few things more frustrating than suffering a breakdown whilst out and about in your car. They seem to happen at the most inconvenient times too; often I find myself waving at British holidaymakers, who're forlornly sitting on the hard shoulder, their roof-racks packed with luggage, awaiting rescue. Having a decent breakdown cover policy can certainly help lessen the inconvenience, and cost of getting back on the road. Our guide below will help you work out the most appropriate level of cover for you.
Types of cover
Breakdown cover comes as two standardised types:
- Pay & Claim cover: Operates in a similar way to a standard insurance policy. Your provider will contact a local firm to rescue you. You'll initially have to fork out for the call-out fee and any other associated charges. Then you'd submit a claim to your cover provider for reimbursement. This is the cheapest type of cover, and would be the best type for anyone with an older vehicle which may require several call-outs
- Standard Breakdown Cover: Gives you the luxury of having your car picked up and repaired without you having to pay out, in exchange for a membership fee. You're normally limited to a certain amount of call-outs per year, but this is the most convenient, 'no fuss' option
Levels Of Cover
Definitions on the levels of cover varies by provider, but the most common are:
- Roadside assistance: Is a primary inclusion, meaning you will find it on all policies. In practice, if you break down a set distance away from home (usually ¼ mile or so), the breakdown provider will send someone to try and fix the problem. Failing that your vehicle will be towed to the nearest garage, or your home, if that is closer. Most policies also include up to 60 minutes of labour, but you'll be liable for the cost of any replacement parts
- Vehicle Recovery: If your vehicle can't be repaired roadside, it will be taken either to a local garage, or a garage of your choice (if your provider offers this), for repair. Also any passengers will also be transported, but some policies place limits on the number of passengers.
- Home Assistance: It's all well and good having cover for breakdown whilst out and about, but a car spends on average 70% of it's time unused, and many vehicles struggle to cope with harsh winter conditions. Home assistance cover literally includes help if you can't get your car started at home, as well as giving you peace of mind on the road.
- Onward Travel: Varies between policies, but the main aim is to provide some method to get you to your destination in the event of a breakdown. The amount coverage differs by policy from car hire, to covering temporary accommodation costs.
Policies vary wildly and you should always cross reference and compare across providers. Here are some common exclusions and other things to look out for:
- Human error: Some policies won’t cover for lights bring accidentally left on, or keys locked inside the car etc
- Limited number of call-outs per year.
- Wheel changes
- Weight limits on the vehicle: If you're transporting goods etc you may not be covered if its over the set limit