If you own a car, you’ve probably experienced a breakdown at some point in your motoring history. Maybe your tyre blew or your engine cut out? Maybe smoke started billowing from underneath your bonnet? Breakdowns can be frightening and highly stressful, not to mention time-consuming. It’s in these situations that breakdown cover is a life-line you can’t manage without. If you want a real-life hero to come to the rescue and take away the anxiety and worry of your impromptu stop, you need breakdown cover. But with the variations in type and level of breakdown cover, it can be hard to know what to choose.
Here are some handy tips to help you find the perfect policy.
Levels of Cover
The level of help you can expect if your car breaks down at the side of the road is dependent on your level of breakdown cover. Different firms call their services by different names, but the levels are relatively standardised. If you’re looking for a policy, you’ll be able to choose from:
Roadside rescue is the most basic level of cover on offer, and is included in all policies. If you choose this option, a patrol will come and try to fix your vehicle at the roadside and get you on your way. You’ll typically be entitled to up to an hour of free labour, but will have to pay for any parts that are needed. Where fixing your car isn’t possible, you’ll be towed for up to 15 miles (some breakdown providers limit this to 10 miles) to find a suitable garage, or you can have your car dropped at home if you’d prefer.
Nationwide cover provides all the benefits of Roadside, but is not limited to a 15 mile recovery. Instead it provides you with the option of being transported to a destination of your choice, with your vehicle and any passengers, whether that’s your home or a garage. Alternatively, you may have the option to select a 24 hour hire car or overnight accommodation. These are sometimes referred to as onward travel benefits
Our Roadside and Nationwide cover requires that you have broken down more than a mile from home before assistance can be sent, but our Homestarter benefit offers the additional benefit of having cover at your home address. If you can’t get to a garage, we’ll tow you to the nearest one. This means that there are no limitations placed on where you can and cannot have a recovery service attend your vehicle.
Driving on the continent can be a real adventure, yet it can very easily turn into an expensive nightmare if you break down. Trying to organise having your car recovered and fixed in a country where you don’t speak the language, know the people or local services, could easily ruin your trip. That’s why European cover was created. European Recovery is the most complete level of cover available. It ensures that the vehicle can be recovered with very little stress and provides access to English-speaking representatives who can help you.
It is essential for anyone taking their car to the continent. European Recovery adds 90 days of European cover to your policy, with a maximum of 31 days per trip. Short trip cover is also readily available, ideal for the odd driving holiday, or day trips to French Supermarkets.
Types of Cover
As well as being able to specifically tailor the level of cover you receive, it is also possible to specify the type of cover – either vehicular or personal.
Vehicle cover covers a particular vehicle in the event of a breakdown, irrespective of who’s driving. It is recommended for couples who share a car or regularly swap cars, so that the vehicle will always be covered in the event of a breakdown. You can typically get a discount on second and third vehicles registered at the same address.
Personal cover attaches to an individual, covering them in the event of a breakdown irrespective of the car they’re driving. For households with more than one car it can be cost-effective to take out a personal policy so that you are covered regardless of the car you’re driving. Personal cover is recommended for anyone who regularly drives more than one vehicle, although generally it’s more expensive than vehicle cover.
Choosing the Right Policy
The policy you choose should be dependent on your circumstances. If you drive alone a lot, it might be that you want the security of knowing that you’ll reach your destination if your car breaks down, so a Nationwide Recovery plan would be best. If you don’t drive far, a Roadside Rescue policy might be better. However, if your family regularly goes on holiday to Europe, you’ll need European Recovery. To decide on the level of cover you want, take a look at individual policies to help you to make an informed decision. Really think about how you use your car and the requirements that arise from this. It is important to bear in mind that the cheapest option is not always the best. Instead, balance the needs arising from your lifestyle against what you can afford to find the best policy for you.
Do remember that the vast majority of breakdown products won’t cover you if you have an accident. Check your motor insurance and you’ll probably find a 24/7 helpline to call if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.