If you own a car then the chances are that you will have needed a breakdown service at some time in your life. Breaking down can be a frustrating and inconvenient problem which is why millions of drivers choose to buy cover that ensures they will be helped in the event that their car won’t start.

With dozens of breakdown cover providers in the marketplace, how do you know which cover to choose? Our guide tells you everything you need to know.

What drivers think of breakdown cover

According to a recent Auto Express survey, 94 per cent of drivers have breakdown cover although just three in ten drivers have used it. And, four in five drivers (81 per cent) believe that breakdown cover is good value.

When drivers do have to call on their provider, the most common reason for a callout is a mechanical fault (41 per cent) while a quarter uses the service for a flat battery.

Most drivers want the breakdown service to fix their car then and there although this only happens in around three in ten cases. A quarter of drivers got a temporary fix while the next best outcome was a tow to a garage of the driver’s choice.

5 things good breakdown cover will include

  1. Home assistance – Sometimes called ‘home start’, this cover will help you if your car won’t start at your home. Some policies won’t cover you within a quarter of a mile from your home so make sure you include this option if you think you may need a breakdown service to come and help you at home
  2. Roadside assistance – Here, a mechanic will come to the scene of your breakdown and attempt to fix your vehicle. You will normally have to pay for parts although if the problem can’t be repaired you’ll generally be towed to the nearest garage
  3. Vehicle recovery – If your car can’t be repaired this cover will mean that your vehicle (and any passengers) will be taken to the nearest garage or to your home
  4. Onward travel – This type of cover differs from insurer to insurer but will typically mean that alternative transportation to your destination will be provided while your vehicle is being repaired. It may also include overnight accommodation
  5. European cover – A good breakdown cover policy will include European protection. This will give you access to English speaking representatives who can help you if you break down overseas

Shop around for breakdown cover

As with all insurance cover it can really pay to shop around for breakdown cover. There are lots of providers in the market and the levels of cover differ from insurer to insurer.

Don’t assume that the cheapest cover will be the right one for you. There may be significant exclusions from cheaper policies and you may find that, for example, you aren’t covered if you break down at home. Always compare both the price of the policy with the specific coverage.

The price of your breakdown cover will be influenced by a number of factors. These will include:

  • The condition and age of your car
  • The amount of miles you expect to drive
  • The level of cover you want to include
  • What you will use your vehicle for