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Information written by Rhiannon Philps Last updated on 11 November 2021.

What is national recovery breakdown cover?

National recovery is one of the more comprehensive levels of breakdown cover available. It offers more advanced protection than basic roadside assistance as you can choose to have you, your passengers, and your vehicle taken to any destination in the UK, not just the nearest garage.

Different providers may call this type of policy different names, such as relay or UK recovery, but essentially it allows you to get to where you want to be after breaking down.

What does national recovery usually cover?

National recovery policies will typically cover the cost of taking you, your vehicle, and any passengers home, or to another location, if your vehicle can’t be fixed by the side of the road.

This is in contrast to the more basic cover offered by roadside assistance, in which the provider will only take you to a local garage within a certain radius of the breakdown.

Taking out national recovery breakdown cover in advance means you can call for assistance if your vehicle stops working. Whether it’s a problem with the battery, engine, tyres or something else, you can contact your provider at any time of the day or night to send a mechanic to your vehicle.

Bear in mind that national recovery cover comes with various exclusions. You typically won’t be covered if any of the following apply:

  • You exceed the limit on the number of call-outs you can make.
  • You make repeated call-outs for the same problem.
  • Your vehicle breaks down at home, or close to home. You may need to take out specialist home start cover if you want this protection.
  • You call about an issue that isn’t immediately serious, such as a chip in the windscreen or a faulty light.
  • Your vehicle, and any trailers or caravans you might be towing, don’t meet any size or age restrictions.
  • You use your vehicle for any restricted purposes. For example, you may not be eligible for cover if you use your vehicle for racing or commercial activities.

Furthermore, you may not be covered, or only have limited cover, if you need to claim on your breakdown policy in the first 24 hours after taking it out.

» MORE: What does breakdown cover include?

Is national recovery breakdown cover worth it?

National recovery cover isn’t for everyone, and you should take time to consider whether you are likely to need its services before opting for this level of policy.

If you often make long journeys, then national recovery might benefit you as you would be able to return home or go to another UK destination of your choice. For example, if you break down while hours away from home, you might welcome a service that takes you and your family to your home address, while towing your vehicle to a garage near to where you live.

If you have an older vehicle, you may want to consider national recovery as you could be more at risk of breaking down mid-journey.

However, bear in mind that national recovery won’t normally cover the cost of any alternative arrangements while your vehicle is out of action – for example, taxi or car rental costs. You would typically need a more comprehensive policy called onward travel if you wanted this extra cover.

If you mainly use your vehicle for local journeys, you may find that you have little need for national recovery. Basic roadside assistance means you can call for a mechanic and get a tow to a local garage, if necessary, which may be sufficient for your driving habits.

» MORE: Do I need breakdown cover?

What are the pros and cons of national recovery?

There are a number of advantages to national recovery breakdown cover, including:

  • You can get taken back home or to a destination of your choice, not just the nearest garage.
  • You can call for assistance 24/7, so you won’t be left to arrange recovery yourself.
  • It’s not the most expensive type of breakdown cover.

However, national recovery breakdown does have some disadvantages, such as:

  • It costs more than standard roadside assistance.
  • It may not always cover you if you break down at home.
  • You won’t get any replacement transport or accommodation if your vehicle needs to stay in the garage.

How do I get national recovery breakdown cover?

When you apply for national recovery breakdown, you will be asked to confirm the level of cover you want and if you want to add any extra cover to your policy. For example, providers may give you the option of including home start cover, parts and labour cover and tyre replacement in your policy.

You will also need to decide if you want a policy that will cover you (the driver) or the vehicle.

Once you have chosen your policy, you will need to input your personal details including your name, address, contact information and date of birth. You may also need to tell the provider your vehicle’s number plate if you selected vehicle-based cover.

You will then need to pay for your cover. Providers will usually offer several payment options, including paying upfront or in instalments for annual cover, or paying for cover monthly on a rolling basis.

How to choose the best national recovery breakdown cover for me?

When you’re choosing breakdown cover, it’s important you consider your driving habits and what level of cover best fits your situation. Whether you decide to buy national recovery or another type of breakdown cover, you should think about:

  • If you want personal-based cover or vehicle-based cover.
  • If you want cover if your car breaks down at home.
  • If you want to add extra cover to your policy.
  • How you want to pay for your policy.

You can use our comparison table to look at different policies and their features to help you find the right cover for you.

National Recovery Breakdown cover FAQ

Does national recovery breakdown cover start immediately?

Some providers will start your cover, or offer a limited amount of cover, as soon as you take out a policy. Your full cover may not start for 24 hours. With other providers, you may not have any cover at all until 24 hours after you take out a policy.

Can I get national recovery added to my current breakdown cover?

If you currently have a roadside assistance policy, you may be able to upgrade it to include national recovery. This depends on the provider and you would need to pay for this extra cover.

How many call-outs can I make in a year?

This depends on your policy. Some providers may only allow you to make a certain number of call-outs each year, while others won’t have any limits. However, providers may not cover you if you make a claim for a recurring issue that you haven’t fixed since a previous call-out.

Is national recovery different from roadside assistance?

National recovery is a more comprehensive level of breakdown cover than roadside assistance. Rather than being towed to a nearby garage chosen by your provider, which is what roadside assistance offers, national recovery allows you to choose to be towed to any location in the UK.

Is national recovery different from onward travel?

Yes, national recovery doesn’t provide as much cover as onward travel. National recovery allows you to choose where you and your vehicle are towed to, but it doesn’t usually offer any alternative transport while your vehicle is out of action. Onward travel, on the other hand, covers the cost of alternative transport, such as a hire car or public transport, and possibly overnight accommodation.

What if I have broken down at my house?

National recovery policies may not always cover you if you break down at home. Unless you select home start cover, you may only be covered if you break down at least a quarter of a mile from your home. If home start cover isn’t included as standard, most providers will allow you to add it on.

What if I have multiple vehicles and people to cover?

You can get policies that will cover more than one vehicle or driver. This means you don’t need to buy individual policies for every vehicle or person, but instead can cover them all under one policy. Find out more about breakdown cover for multiple vehicles and drivers.

Can I get national recovery for my business vehicle?

Yes, you can get national recovery cover for a business vehicle. However, you may need to take out specialist business breakdown cover if you use your vehicle to carry passengers or deliver goods, for example, as standard policies may not cover commercial vehicles.

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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18 products found
  • RAC logo

    Roadside, Recovery & Onward Travel

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £145
      Now £145
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £125
      Now £125
  • RAC logo

    Roadside & Recovery

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £110
      Now £110
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £90
      Now £90
  • RAC logo

    Roadside, Recovery & At Home

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £145
      Now £145
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £125
      Now £125
  • RAC logo

    Roadside, Recovery, At Home & Onward Travel

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £165
      Now £165
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £145
      Now £145
  • AA logo

    Roadside + National Recovery

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £139
      Now £139
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £119
      Now £119
  • AA logo

    Roadside + At Home + National Recovery

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £169
      Now £169
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £149
      Now £149
  • AA logo

    Roadside + National Recovery + Onward Travel

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £169
      Now £169
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £149
      Now £149
  • AA logo

    Roadside + National Recovery + Parts & Garage Cover

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £194.96
      Now £194.96
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £174.96
      Now £174.96
  • AA logo

    Roadside + At Home + National Recovery + Onward Travel

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £199
      Now £199
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £179
      Now £179
  • Emergency Assist logo

    Premium Cover

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was Option unavailable
      Now Option unavailable
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £20.50
      Now £20.50
  • GEM Motoring Assist logo

    Recovery RECLAIM

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £78.50
      Now £78.50
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was Option unavailable
      Now Option unavailable
  • GEM Motoring Assist logo

    Recovery EXTRA

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £96.66
      Now £96.66
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was Option unavailable
      Now Option unavailable
  • Green Flag logo

    Recovery Plus

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £80
      Now £80
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £60
      Now £60
  • Rescuemycar logo

    National

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £47.50
      Now £47.50
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £18.99
      Now £18.99
  • Rescuemycar logo

    National & Home

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £48.49
      Now £48.49
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £20.99
      Now £20.99
  • Cover My logo

    National & Home Cover

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £39.97
      Now £39.97
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £22.83
      Now £22.83
  • MotorEasy logo

    Nationwide Recovery

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was Option unavailable
      Now Option unavailable
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £45.47
      Now £45.47
  • MotorEasy logo

    Nationwide Recovery + Home Assist

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was Option unavailable
      Now Option unavailable
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £55.79
      Now £55.79

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