Breakdown Cover Knowledge Hub

What do breakdown memberships cover?

Many different types of breakdown cover exist, each offering different levels of cover. It’s important to understand these options and what level of cover they provide.

It is easy to forget to take out breakdown membership cover when you own a car as it can get lost among the other expenses associated with owning a vehicle. However, it can be a prudent step to include in the annual running costs of your car, so that should it break down on the road, you have a backup plan ready and waiting when you need it most.

Why do I need a breakdown membership?

You may want to consider purchasing a breakdown membership cover plan because the costs of paying for roadside assistance can become very expensive and that’s without adding the price of the repair on top. In its essence, a breakdown membership cover plan covers the costs of roadside assistance and towing to a nearby car repair garage should your car break down when you are driving.

What are the different types of breakdown membership cover?

There is a range of breakdown membership cover packages available from roadside assistance, home cover and national cover to name but a few. They will all vary according to the type of cover they include and the prices will change to reflect this too. It’s a good idea to understand the different types of cover and what they include before you purchase a plan.

Roadside Assistance Breakdown Cover

This is the most typical and basic breakdown membership cover plan that is available on the market. It guarantees that your provider will come to your broken down car and either fix it there and then or arrange for it to be towed to the nearest garage, for a complex repair if needed.

These breakdown membership cover policies tend to be the most affordable and basic on offer, but it is still advisable to shop around to find the best deal for you. However, should you break down within a quarter of a mile from where you live, in most cases you won’t be able to claim for roadside assistance.

National Recovery Breakdown Cover

Although 12 per cent of car breakdowns occur on the motorway, it’s a good idea to think about purchasing a national recovery breakdown membership package if you do a lot of long-distance driving. In most cases, providers include recovery for yourself as well as up to seven passengers travelling with you, to be towed to your final destination or a garage near your destination.

If you have taken out a roadside assistance breakdown membership policy, but you wish to be towed to your final destination, or up to 100 miles from your breakdown site, this can be very expensive and can cost upwards of £400.

At Home Breakdown Cover

When you take out an at home breakdown membership cover policy, this will not only include the basic roadside assistance, but should your car break down at your home or within a quarter of a mile from it, then you will be covered by your breakdown membership plan.

Although this type of cover does cost more, it is worth considering because up to 35 per cent of all car breakdowns happen at home or within a quarter of a mile of your address. If you’re unlucky enough to have your car break down at home and you have only got roadside assistance membership cover, then it could cost you, on average, up to £110 to get a roadside rescue or repair.

Onward Travel Breakdown Cover

Onward travel breakdown cover is sometimes offered by breakdown membership providers as an alternative package to choose from or as a complimentary add-on to another package. In most cases, with onward breakdown cover, your provider will supply you with a rental car, so that you are able to continue driving whilst your own car is getting repaired.

Personal Breakdown Cover

This type of breakdown policy will extend to cover yourself as well as any car you are driving or travelling in as a passenger when you experience a breakdown. Most breakdown membership cover plans only extend to the car but this type of cover goes a little further. This is a good option for people who own more than one car or if you regularly car pool or have shared ownership of a car.

Who provides breakdown membership cover?

There are several providers of breakdown membership to choose from: traditional, pay-and-claim or purchased directly from your car manufacturer when you purchase a new car. Before you purchase a breakdown membership cover plan, make sure you know which type of provider you want to use.

Traditional Breakdown Cover

There are a number of direct breakdown cover providers who have built up a steadfast reputation in the industry and are household names. They are the most common and popular choice with motorists and you can easily compare prices online to find the best membership plan and price or contact them directly.

They offer a variety of breakdown membership cover packages and if you have a breakdown, they will arrive at the scene and either attempt to repair your car then and there, or they will tow your car to the nearest garage if it requires a more complex fix from a mechanic.

Big names operate their own fleet of rescue vehicles whilst others use a secondary network of recovery operators.

Pay-and-claim Breakdown Cover

Typically, pay-and-claim breakdown cover is supplied through a third-party provider and you would still be required to pay an annual fee but the amount will be a lot less compared to a regular breakdown membership cover plan.

With this type of breakdown cover, you will need to pay for any roadside repairs or recovery to a garage upfront but you can then claim it back from your membership plan. Make sure you keep any receipts as you will need these in order to make a claim. There are a number of pay-and-claim service providers to choose from, so make sure you shop around for the best deal.

Car Manufacturer Breakdown Cover

Most car manufacturers will provide free breakdown cover when you purchase a new car from their own branded breakdown membership cover. Depending on the manufacturer, the level of cover and the length of the membership plan will vary but the average length is up to three years of breakdown cover, especially if you get your car serviced at the main dealership.

More often than not, this breakdown membership cover is actually provided by a third-party supplier, so if your new car comes with this perk, it’s worth noting that it won’t necessarily be the manufacturer’s recovery vehicle that will arrive on the scene if you break down.

You can get any pre-existing breakdown membership cover put on hold should you receive the perk of free breakdown cover included when you purchase a new car. You simply need to find out when the complimentary membership runs out, and ask your current breakdown cover provider to pause your plan until that date.

Can you get breakdown cover when you have a breakdown?

Yes, there are many breakdown membership cover providers who do offer cover immediately, so if you find yourself broken down without a membership plan, you can do some research and call a provider to pay for a policy that will give you roadside assistance starting from that day. You can get instant breakdown cover whether you’ve broken down at home or on the road, so you will be able to get the assistance you need no matter where you are.

These membership plans are typically called ‘instant breakdown cover’, so make sure you ask for that type of policy when you make the call. There is one small catch though; these are some of the most expensive breakdown membership policies available, with prices starting around £115 on average, it’s more cost effective to already have a breakdown cover plan in place.

Written by Caroline Ramsey

    Published on 11-10-2018

    Updated on 08-04-2020

Well-established content creator who specialises in the personal finance industry. More than a decade of working in editorial teams, she offers highly tailored content covering a number of topics.

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