Breakdown Insurance: FAQs

Q. What’s not covered?

A. Like most insurance policies, breakdown policies come with exclusions. These vary depending on the type of cover, level of cover, and the insurer themselves. Having said that, here are some common exclusions to look out for:

Specific Situations

  • Breaking down on private land
  • Breaking down with animals or pets
  • Breaking down due to an accident
  • Breaking down because of vehicular neglect
Human Error
  • Leaving your lights on
  • Running out of fuel
  • Misfuelling (you might be towed to a garage, but drainage, disposal, or damage costs might not be covered)

Basic Exclusions

  • Breaking down abroad if you only have a UK policy
  • Routine maintenance and repairs
  • Repeat callouts for the same fault
  • Windscreen repairs
  • The cost of a locksmith if needed

Always check your policy wording to understand what is and isn’t covered, making sure you’re fully aware of any potential exclusions.

Q. Are there extras I can add on to the policy?

A. Yes, there are several extras you can add to your breakdown cover policy.

Relief Driver: If you're unable to drive due to illness or injury and there's no one else qualified to take over, this cover provides a driver to finish your journey or take you home.

Breakdown Repair: Some providers offer this to help cover repair costs when your vehicle breaks down. It can include paying for garage repair bills and might cover replacement tyres, batteries, and keys.

Hire Car: This is a financial contribution towards the cost of a replacement vehicle while yours is being repaired. Standard breakdown cover usually doesn't include a courtesy car, but if you have onward travel included, you might get access to one.

Travel Costs: If your car can't be quickly repaired, you could claim additional travel costs to reach your destination or return home.

Of course, not all insurers or policies offer these additions, so be sure to check when comparing different policies to find the one that best fits your needs.

Q. What do I do if my vehicle actually breaks down?

A. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a breakdown, you should always ensure your safety first. Move your vehicle off the road if you can, or onto the hard shoulder if you’re on the motorway. Turn on your hazard lights, get out of your car, and stand far enough away from moving traffic.

Once you’re in a good, safe position, contact your breakdown insurance provider and let them know what’s happened, where you are, and if the position of your vehicle is detrimental to other road-users. They’ll dispatch a mechanic for you, and might provide further information about informing the police if your vehicle is causing an obstruction.

Depending on what the problem is and what your breakdown policy provides, once the mechanic reaches you they can either fix the issue there and then, or they might tow you to a nearby garage.

It’s important to keep your breakdown insurance accessible. Keep it handy in your car or saved somewhere on your smartphone that doesn’t need an internet connection to access - it’s sod’s law you’ll end up somewhere it’s not available!

Q. What can I do if I don’t have breakdown cover?

A. If your car breaks down, and you don’t have breakdown cover, you have three main options:

You can call a breakdown provider directly for immediate help, even if you’re not a member of their service. The upside is that a mechanic will come out to fix or tow your vehicle, but the downside is that this can be expensive, especially if the breakdown service asks for a one-off membership fee.

You can call a local garage to see if they have someone available to fix or collect your vehicle. This can be extremely costly due to callout fees and towing charges, and you might have difficulty finding a garage which is both open and nearby when you need their help.

You can use an emergency phone on the motorway to contact Highways England. They’ll send a recovery vehicle (at a minimum cost of £150) to tow you to a local garage or recovery site, where you can make further arrangements. Again, this can be expensive, and you need to be prepared to pay for any repairs and additional travel costs to resolve the issue.

Other breakdown insurance articles which you may be interested in...

Breakdown Insurance: Levels of Cover Breakdown Insurance: Levels of Cover - We outline and explain the different levels of cover available for breakdown.