Do I Need Breakdown Cover? Is Breakdown Cover Worth it?

Just because breakdown cover isn’t a legal requirement doesn’t mean it’s an unnecessary expense. Breakdown cover may be worth getting as it ensures you can get help if your car breaks down, without paying high call-out fees.

Rhiannon Philps Published on 09 April 2020. Last updated on 29 January 2021.
Do I Need Breakdown Cover? Is Breakdown Cover Worth it?

Owning and driving a car can be financially draining, so you may be wondering whether the additional cost of taking out breakdown cover is worth it. But, although breakdown cover may seem like an extra expense, breaking down and calling for assistance without cover is likely to prove even more costly, not to mention more stressful.

Highways England recorded 224,225 car breakdowns between April 2018 and March 2019, which shows that drivers can’t be complacent about this risk and assume that it won’t happen to them.

Breakdown cover can give you peace of mind as you drive that, should something happen to your car, help won’t be far away.

» MORE: What is breakdown cover?

Here, we review the benefits of breakdown cover and why it can come in handy, to help you decide if it is worth buying or not.

Do I have breakdown cover already?

Before deciding if you should buy breakdown cover, you should first check if you already have cover with your car insurance or your bank account. You don’t want to pay twice for the same protection!

Many car insurers will give you the option of buying breakdown cover as an additional extra with their policy so, if you’re unsure if you opted for this, it is worth studying your documents.

Additionally, packaged bank accounts offer perks to customers, one of which may include breakdown cover. If you have a premium current account, double-check if breakdown cover is one of the features and, if it is, confirm whether you have basic or more comprehensive cover.

It may also be worth checking with your family and/or the people you live with to see if you are covered by a joint, family, or multi-vehicle breakdown policy that they may have taken out.

Finally, if you have a new car, you may automatically have breakdown cover from your manufacturer.

Do I need breakdown cover for a new car?

If you buy a brand new car from a dealer, you may receive breakdown cover as part of your manufacturer’s car warranty. However, this will only be valid for a set time, so you may want to consider taking out a separate breakdown cover policy once it expires.

Although in theory new cars should be at less risk of breaking down than older cars that have done more mileage, you can’t predict what may happen on the roads so getting some basic cover at the very least could be a wise move.

Do I need breakdown cover?

Drivers don’t need breakdown cover as it is not a legal requirement, unlike car insurance. However, many will opt to buy breakdown cover, even if it is just the basic level of assistance, as it can make breaking down a less stressful and less expensive experience.

Breakdown cover may be worth it if:

You have an older car

As cars get older and rack up more miles, they are at greater risk of breaking down. They are also more likely to break down at home, so many drivers of older cars may opt for more comprehensive levels of breakdown cover to account for this increased risk.

Be aware that some breakdown providers may only cover cars up to a certain age. So, if you have an older car, you should check the terms of the breakdown policy to make sure it qualifies for cover.

You regularly travel long distances

If you often drive long distances, having breakdown cover can reassure you that you won’t get stranded far from home. The more comprehensive National Recovery or Onward Travel options provide cover to get you and your car home or to your intended destination.

Arranging a tow and transport back home is likely to be very costly if you don’t have breakdown cover.

You drive in remote areas

If you break down in the middle of nowhere without cover, it may take time for you to find the nearest garage and call for help. If this happens you want help to be on its way as soon as possible, particularly if it’s dark or cold! If you have breakdown cover, you have the peace of mind that you just need to call your breakdown provider to get assistance.

You’re worried about paying high call-out fees

It may seem counterintuitive, but paying for breakdown cover can save you money in the long-term. With breakdown cover, you wouldn’t have to pay for a mechanic to try to fix your car or for a tow to a garage, but, without cover, getting this emergency assistance could end up being very expensive.

You’re driving in Europe

Driving abroad can be stressful enough without adding in the worry of breaking down. European breakdown cover can help you to relax in the knowledge that, should something happen, you can call for help to get your car back on the road or, if necessary, make sure you get back home safely.

» MORE: How to save money on breakdown cover

When breakdown cover may not be worth it

Although breakdown cover has its benefits, some drivers may not think they need it or that they only need the most basic assistance.

You may choose not to get breakdown cover if you:

Already have cover

As discussed above, you may already have breakdown cover from your car insurance, bank, or under your car warranty. Or you could be covered under a family or multi-car policy taken out by a relative or someone in your home.

Have a new car

New cars should be less likely to break down so even if you’re not covered under your warranty, breakdown cover may not seem as useful to owners of new vehicles.

However, things can still go wrong, even if a car is in seemingly good condition, so it may be worth getting the minimum level of breakdown cover in case of emergency.

You only travel locally

If you only use your car to travel short distances locally, then you may not need breakdown cover. You could rely on family or friends to pick you up if you did break down, and you may be happy to pay for your local garage to repair and/or tow your car if necessary.

However, having at least the basic level of breakdown cover would give you some extra reassurance, and help you out if you did break down further away from home.

» COMPARE: Breakdown cover

Breakdown cover is something you may not think you need until the moment that you are sitting in your car at the side of the road unable to go anywhere.

If you have breakdown cover, you will have peace of mind that you can pick up the phone and call for help. Without cover, you would face the stress and expense of taking out instant breakdown cover on the spot or finding a nearby garage to call for assistance.

» MORE: What to do if you break down

About the author:

Rhiannon is a financial writer for NerdWallet, with a particular interest in personal finance and insurance guides for consumers. Read more

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