Compare Roadside Assistance Breakdown Cover

  • Roadside assistance is the basic form of breakdown cover and is offered by all providers
  • These policies cover your vehicle for roadside repairs and/or towing to a local garage in the event of a breakdown
  • Compare policy features and the latest prices on basic breakdown cover products below
Information written by Rhiannon Philps Last updated on 10 December 2021.

What is roadside assistance?

Roadside assistance is the foundation of all breakdown policies. It offers basic assistance if you break down and means you won’t be left stranded if your vehicle stops working.

As the name indicates, roadside assistance offers help if your vehicle breaks down. Once you call your provider, they will send a mechanic to your vehicle who will try to sort out the problem and get you back on the road. If this isn’t possible, the policy will typically cover the cost of a tow to a nearby garage.

Providers will choose the garage and they will normally only tow you a certain distance, often around 10 miles or less.

This is the basic roadside assistance cover offered, but details can vary between providers. You can also upgrade your cover to make it more comprehensive and add optional cover to tailor your policy to your requirements.

What does a roadside assistance policy usually cover?

As a minimum, roadside assistance will usually cover the cost of a mechanic to come out to your broken-down vehicle. The mechanic will see if they can fix it by the roadside or, if it needs more repairs, they will tow you to a local garage within a certain radius of the scene.

If you would prefer to be taken to a destination of your choice, or be able to continue your journey, you are likely to need a more comprehensive breakdown policy. You can call for help for a variety of problems with your vehicle that stop you driving, including flat tyres, braking issues, or engine trouble.

Unless otherwise stated, if you break down at home, you won’t normally be covered. Many providers will only cover you if you break down a quarter of a mile or more from your home. Breakdowns closer to home will often need home start cover.

Roadside assistance policies from different providers may offer variations on this basic cover. For example, they might offer more options if your vehicle needs towing, or offer home start cover as standard so you can call for help if your vehicle won’t start on the driveway.

Many providers also offer optional add-ons, which can give you more protection, such as key cover, tyre replacement, or parts and labour cover.

There are several exclusions to roadside assistance cover. For example, you may not be covered if:

  • You exceed the limit on the number of call-outs you can make.
  • You repeatedly ask for assistance for a recurring issue.
  • The problem with your vehicle isn’t serious and doesn’t prevent you from driving to a garage to get it fixed.
  • You haven’t maintained your vehicle or you haven’t resolved a problem identified at a previous call-out.
  • You call for help in the first 24 hours after taking out cover.
  • Your vehicle needs parts and repairs at the garage. You will often need to cover the cost of these yourself, or take out extra cover.

» MORE: What cover is included in a breakdown policy?

Is roadside assistance breakdown cover worth it?

Only you know if roadside assistance is worth getting. Having this cover can give you peace of mind as you can call for help if your vehicle breaks down mid-journey, without needing to pay any expensive emergency call-out fees.

However, if you have a new vehicle that is less likely to break down, or you only travel short distances, you may think that having breakdown cover is an unnecessary expense. If you choose not to have cover, you will need to pay extra for assistance if you break down.

You may consider taking out roadside assistance if:

  • You have an older vehicle that could be more susceptible to breakdowns.
  • You drive long distances, sometimes in remote areas.

However, bear in mind that roadside assistance will only tow you to a nearby garage. So, if you regularly travel far from home, you may prefer a more comprehensive breakdown policy, which can help you to continue to your chosen destination.

» MORE: Is breakdown cover worth it?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of roadside assistance breakdown cover?

Roadside assistance has a number of advantages, including:

  • You can call for help if your vehicle breaks down on the road.
  • You won’t be charged expensive fees for the call-out.
  • It’s typically the entry level and cheapest level of breakdown cover.

However, roadside assistance cover may not be for everybody. Some disadvantages to this kind of cover include:

  • You won’t be covered if you break down at home, or close to home (unless specified in the policy).
  • Your vehicle will only be towed to a local garage within a certain distance of the breakdown. You can’t choose where you are taken.
  • You won’t be covered for alternative transport or overnight accommodation if the garage can’t repair your vehicle right away.

How do I get roadside assistance cover?

To take out a roadside assistance policy, you’ll need to give the provider your personal information, including your name, address, date of birth and contact details.

If you choose vehicle-based cover, the provider may also ask for your vehicle’s registration plate.

You will also need to choose your payment method. You may be able to pay for annual cover in one upfront payment, or split into monthly payments. Alternatively, you may be able to pay by monthly direct debit so you pay for cover on a flexible rolling basis, which you can cancel at any time.

How to choose the best roadside assistance cover for me?

When you’re looking for roadside assistance cover, there are a number of factors to consider such as:

  • Whether you need personal-based cover or vehicle-based cover.
  • Whether you want cover if you break down at home.
  • If you want to upgrade your cover so you can continue your journey after breaking down.
  • If you want to add any extra cover to your policy.
  • How much you are willing to spend on cover.
  • Whether you want to pay for annual cover or pay monthly.
  • How many vehicles or how many drivers you want to cover.

Always check to see exactly what cover is included in a policy to make sure it has everything you want. You can compare roadside assistance policies using our comparison table above.

What are the alternatives to roadside assistance?

Roadside assistance is the most basic form of breakdown cover, so if you want more protection you may want to consider one of the other types of cover.

  • Home start. This builds on roadside assistance as it covers you if your vehicle breaks down at your home or nearby.
  • National recovery. Instead of being towed to a local garage, you can choose to be towed to a location of your choice in the UK.
  • Onward travel. This is the most comprehensive level of breakdown cover. You can choose to be towed to a location of your choice and, if your vehicle needs to be kept in the garage for repairs, you are covered for alternative transport or overnight accommodation.

» COMPARE: Breakdown cover

Breakdown cover – Roadside Assistance FAQ

Can I call for roadside assistance without a current policy?

If you’ve broken down without breakdown cover you can still call for assistance from a nearby garage or from a breakdown provider. However, this will be more expensive than taking out cover in advance.

Does roadside assistance cover start immediately?

This depends on the provider. Some policies will offer limited cover as soon as you take out a policy, while others will only begin 24 hours after taking out cover.

Can I get roadside assistance if I don’t already have breakdown cover?

Yes, you can take out roadside assistance if you don’t have a breakdown policy. You can compare policies and choose the one most suitable for you.

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

Some breakdown providers will allow you to make unlimited call-outs in a year, although you may not be able to make multiple claims for the same issue. Other providers may limit the number of call-outs you can make.

Can I cancel my roadside assistance breakdown cover at any time?

Yes, you can cancel a policy at any time, although you may need to pay a cancellation fee. All providers will allow you to cancel within 14 days of taking out cover. After this period, cancellation terms vary between providers. If you paid for your cover up front, some providers will offer a refund, deducting costs for the time you had cover and any breakdown services you used. However, not all will offer a refund. If you pay for your cover on a monthly rolling basis, you should be able to cancel your cover whenever you choose.

Can I get roadside assistance for any vehicle?

You can get roadside assistance for many vehicles, though providers will often set height and weight restrictions. You may also not be eligible for cover if you use your vehicle for a restricted purpose, such as commercial work. Some providers may only cover vehicles up to a certain age, so check the terms of a policy before taking it out to see if your vehicle is eligible.

What if I have multiple vehicles and people to cover?

Roadside assistance is available if you want to cover more than one vehicle or driver. There are joint and family policies if you want to cover multiple drivers in your household, as well as multi-vehicle policies that allow you to cover two or more vehicles under one policy.

What if my car breaks down at home?

Standard roadside assistance policies may not cover you if your vehicle breaks down at home. Many will only be valid if you break down a certain distance from your home, typically a quarter of a mile. If you want to be covered for a breakdown at home, you need to make sure you select home start cover.

Will I be able to continue my journey with roadside assistance?

This will depend on the level of cover you have. Roadside assistance offers basic help to ensure you are not left alone on the road with a broken down vehicle. If your vehicle needs towing, your provider will only take you to a nearby garage or a location within a certain distance of the breakdown, and won’t often provide you with alternative transport if your vehicle needs extensive repairs.

If you want cover so you can continue your journey, a more comprehensive breakdown policy, such as national recovery or onward travel could be more useful.

About the author:

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

Compare Breakdown Cover

Choose your breakdown cover options

8 products found
  • RAC logo

    Roadside

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £70
      Now £70
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £50
      Now £50
  • AA logo

    Roadside + Parts & Garage Cover

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £134.96
      Now £134.96
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £114.96
      Now £114.96
  • 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
  • Green Flag logo

    Rescue

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was £45
      Now £45
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £30
      Now £30
  • 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
  • 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

    Local Recovery

    • Roadside Assistance
    • National Recovery
    • Home Start
    • Onward Travel
    • Personal Price (From)
      Was Option unavailable
      Now Option unavailable
    • Vehicle Price (From)
      Was £36.30
      Now £36.30

Our comparison service features a selection of providers from whom we receive commission. This table is initially ordered according to our commercial arrangements. Use the drop down menu at the top of the page to order by other criteria.

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