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The Basics of Car Breakdown Cover

The Basics of Car Breakdown CoverBreakdown cover for your daily drive or weekend pride and joy is a good way to keep on motoring or at least get you out of a jam if you happen to break down miles away from home (or your destination). It’s no fun getting stuck miles from nowhere with a tonne and a half of immobile metal spewing steam out from the engine bay, or stranded at home with a flat battery because of a cold snap.

Types of cover

To avoid the inconvenience, stress and exorbitant cost of getting yourself and your car home, breakdown cover can help and is a relatively low cost, often getting bundled with car insurance. There are basically two types of breakdown cover:

  • Standard Breakdown Policies
    Standard breakdown cover is a yearly renewable policy which provides annual cover and offers a fixed number of call outs within that time period. Should your vehicle break down, it will either be fixed where ever it is (home or roadside) or towed to a local garage that can fix it and there will be no call out or tow charge involved. This is the way that the majority of breakdown cover works and is bought, as it’s straight forward and convenient for the majority of car owners.
  • Breakdown Insurance
    Much like a traditional car insurance policy, or any other type of insurance come to think of it, breakdown insurance works by using a local garage to tow and repair a car after a breakdown after which a claim is made from the insurance provider. Should your car break down, you do have to pay up front for the recovery and repairs then go through the admin of making a claim, however these types of policies are often cheaper than standard annual breakdown cover.

Types of breakdown cover
As with the types of cover, there are also a variety of levels of cover offered by those policies and these break down into the following categories:

  • Roadside
    Roadside assistant is the key element of breakdown cover and is included in the majority of policies. A trained mechanic will arrive where you’ve broken down and will attempt to resolve the problem and get you moving.
  • Recovery
    The second key element of breakdown cover is vehicle recover. Once the trained mechanic has assessed the car and attempted to get it moving again, he may decide that it can’t be fixed and then recover it to another location, typically the mechanic or a recovery vehicle driver will take you and your car to a local garage or your home.
  • Home start
    Some policies actually exclude this and basically means that if you breakdown at home, you might not be covered. It is however a very useful feature, say for example you can’t start the car in the morning because of a flat battery or a fluid leak which makes the car impossible or dangerous to drive. If your car is prone to starting issues, this may be a useful feature to include into a breakdown policy as standard policies require the vehicle to be at least half a mile from the policy holders home to warrant a call out.
  • Onward travel
    If you breakdown on the way to an important destination, such as a meeting, holiday, airport or event, onward travel can be a real life saver should your car breakdown. The basic premise is that should your vehicle breakdown, yourself and the occupants will be taken to the intended destination. This is very handy should you find yourself broken down on the way to an airport for a holiday. Cover levels vary and onward journey cover is often the highest level available from breakdown companies, however it’s worth checking what exactly this includes e.g. car hire, a lift to a local transport hub or a place to stay while the car is being repaired.
  • Driving abroad
    Driving in a foreign country can turn into a nightmare fast if the vehicle you’re in breaks down, as different rules apply and the language barrier can often make relatively straight forward repairs or recovery expensive. Policies that cover driving in other countries (e.g. mainland Europe) help alleviate this as you’ll be able to contact an English speaking expert who’ll be able to arrange the repair or recovery for you.

Driver or vehicle coverDriver or vehicle cover

One other consideration is whether the driver or the car itself is covered by the breakdown insurance.  If the individual is covered, it means that all cars they have access to are covered and offered the same level of assistants although these types of policies can be more expensive.   If a car is covered, then only that car can be repaired or recovered however these types of policies can be cheaper – but if you only own or drive one vehicle then it can be a cost effective way to save on renewal fees.

Breakdown cover costs

The price you pay for breakdown cover will depend on a number of factors, such as what you use your vehicle for (e.g. social and commuting), the age of your car and your average yearly mileage and this is logical as heavy car users will (potentially) require more assistance).  Here are a few tips of saving on the cost of breakdown cover:

  • Check whether cover bundled cover with your car insurance is good value – sometimes buying them separately can be cheaper.
  • Keep your car serviced regularly and well maintained to avoid call outs which can offer a no-claims discount similar to car insurance.
  • Shop around among providers to get the best price, making sure to compare the same level of cover between them – like for like.
  • Consider the level of cover you’ll need –so avoid extras that you won’t need (such as European cover) but include those that you will, such as Home start.
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  1. The Top 5 Reasons To Get UK Breakdown Insurance
  2. Top 5 Ways to Save Money on UK Car Insurance

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