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Car breakdown cover explained 

After doing a bit of research, most people don't realise that car breakdown cover isn't as straight forward as they had originally thought. Cover can be divided into two main groups based on the way in which the cover works, these are;

Standard Car Breakdown Cover
This is the most common type of car breakdown cover. You pay a set yearly fee either as a lump sum or as monthly payments. If you break down you will be assisted by a car breakdown professional, who would normally work directly for your breakdown provider. In the event of a breakdown this can be the option which will be a lot less hassle. You also have the piece of mind of knowing what you're going to get, from a trusted supplier such as the AA or RAC.

People often choose this option in order to stay with what they know, however it can often be the more expensive option. Be sure to check out our car breakdown cover comparison tool.

Pay & Claim Car Breakdown Cover
This is a less common option, although it should be considered as it can often be the cheapest. It has traits as an insurance policy, and as such is regulated by the FSA. Providers to not normally have their own fleet of breakdown vehicles, instead they use local companies. You can get the same level of cover as you would with a standard policy, although if you breakdown you will need to pay the local company for pickup and repairs, and invoice the provider in order to claim this back.

What type of breakdown cover? You or your car? 

You or the car? You have the choice of covering either yourself or your car. Generally it's cheaper to cover a car than it is to cover a person. If the car is covered, then it doesn't matter who is driving it in the event of a breakdown, as the car itself is covered. So if for example the family have 1 car which is shared, it will probably be far cheaper to cover the car than it would to cover two drivers.

If you opt for covering yourself, you will have car breakdown cover in any vehicle you are traveling in. This is especially good if you frequent more than one car. Be sure to check out our car breakdown cover comparison tool to compare prices.

Breakdown Recovery Options 

With even a basic level of cover you can expect the car breakdown recovery provider to attempt a roadside repair (some car breakdown providers boast in excess of 80% of breakdowns are fixed at the roadside), and if this is not possible they will recover the vehicle. Depending on the policy you have chosen, will depend on what recovery options you have.

A basic package may mean that your car may be recovered to a local garage within 10 to 15 miles of where you broke down. Although this will allow you have your car repaired, you may still be some distance from home which means you will have to go through the hassle of either staying in the area or returning to collect your car at a later date.

More comprehensive packages may allow you to have your car recovered to a destination of your choice (within reason). Although you may feel this is additional cover cost, it will save you a lot of trouble and substantially more costs later. Be sure to check out our car breakdown cover comparison tool to compare prices and levels of cover.

Home Start
Depending upon the level of cover you have from your provider, will determine if they will assist you while you are close to your home. Most basic policies will only assist you if you are at least a quarter of a mile from home. If you require the option of having assistance from your home, make sure this is included in your policy.

Be sure to check out our car breakdown comparison tables to see which deals are available.

Onward Travel
Breaking down is never convenient, especially if you travel long distances. The more expensive packages will include onward travel options which can include a hire car, or it may even cover the cost of train tickets or even accommodation.

European Car Breakdown Cover
If you travel by road in Europe, this is a must. Imagine breaking down in a country you don't know where, and they speak a language that you don't understand? Alternatively you can purchase European cover on an "as required" basis, although if you travel there often you may find this to be much more expensive. For more information read our European car breakdown cover guide.


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