Things to consider when choosing your breakdown cover

If you’re a new driver, or haven’t taken out breakdown cover before, this quick guide will help you decide which kind of policy is best for your needs - ensuring you can get back on the road swiftly if you have a breakdown.

What is roadside assistance?

The term 'roadside assistance' is used for a service that sends out a mechanic to help a motorist whose vehicle has broken down. These mechanics have the skills, experience, and equipment to solve most faults by the roadside. If a roadside fix is not possible, they can arrange for recovery to a nearby garage, the customer's home, or the original destination - depending on the cover.

In the case of customers, more than 80% of breakdowns are fixed by the roadside.

This means the driver and their passengers can usually continue with their journey within an hour or less.

Breakdown cover meaning

‘Roadside assistance’ means the same as’ breakdown cover’ - they are often used interchangeably.


Flat bed truck in front of a broken down car on roadside


What happens if my vehicle cannot be fixed by the roadside?

If your vehicle cannot be repaired by the roadside, you would need to be towed to a nearby garage for repairs, or if you wish, your home (if it's late at night, for example). How far - and where - you can be towed depends on the level of cover you have.

For example,'s 2, 3, 4, and 5-Star Breakdown Cover includes Nationwide Recovery, which means if the Recovery Operator believes your vehicle cannot be fixed by the roadside or at a nearby garage on the same day, they will arrange for your vehicle to be towed to either your destination or your home.

What happens if I don't have roadside assistance cover?

If your vehicle breaks down by the roadside and you don't have any kind of roadside assistance cover, you would need to find and contact a recovery/repair service who can help.

This could be tricky if you break down late at night, and will almost certainly leave you with a hefty recovery bill - and that's before any garage repair costs. You might also need to find accommodation at short notice, which could also be expensive.

One of the great benefits of a good breakdown cover policy is that the Recovery Operator will help arrange everything for you - and you won't have to pay for straightforward roadside fixes such as a jump start, or recovery costs (depending on the specified coverage).

Note that Emergency Overnight Accommodation and Alternative Travel is covered by all Breakdown Cover policies.

Note too that you can also contact a recovery provider and join their service on-the-spot, but this would involve an extra fee on top of the annual premium. With, you can call 01206 655000 for our Pay on Use service.

What does roadside assistance cover include?

Most roadside assistance providers offer different levels of cover. As you might expect, the more benefits, the higher the annual cost.

Roadside assistance cover is likely to include some or all of the following:

  • Unlimited Callouts
  • Roadside Assistance
  • Local Recovery up to 10 miles
  • Nationwide Recovery
  • Home Assist
  • Accident Recovery
  • Alternative Travel
  • Emergency Overnight Accommodation
  • Key Assist
  • Misfuel Cover
  • European cCover
  • Theft, Vandalism and Driver Illness/Injury

In the case of's 5-Star cover, all of the above are included.

Does breakdown cover include repairs?

Generally, breakdown cover policies are designed to get you back on the road quickly, or to get you to a nearby garage if more serious repairs are needed. But with most policies, you would be expected to pay for any replacement parts - and the necessary labour to fit them.

What breakdown cover is right for me?

The breakdown cover policy you buy should suit your driving habits. For example, if you tend to drive in your local area, and rarely drive across the country or on mainland Europe, then a simple and affordable policy like's 1-Star cover could be ideal. This option includes things like Roadside Assistance, Local Recovery up to 10 miles, Accident Recovery, Alternative Travel, and Emergency Overnight Accommodation.

Nationwide Breakdown Cover

But if you often drive long distances in the UK, you would need cover that includes Nationwide Recovery (included with's 2, 3, 4, & 5-Star cover).

Moving traffic on UK motorway


European Breakdown Cover

If you plan to drive on mainland Europe during the year, a policy with European cover would give you the peace of mind that help is just a call - or the tap of an app - away. It's not pleasant to find yourself stranded by the roadside in a foreign country, especially if you are unable to speak the language. But with's 4- or 5-Star cover, a European breakdown will be much easier to deal with.

Vehicle Cover vs Personal Cover: What's the Difference?

Most breakdown cover providers - including - offer their policies based on either 'vehicle cover' or 'personal cover'. Vehicle cover is designed to cover a specific vehicle, regardless of who is driving. But with personal cover, an individual is covered - no matter which vehicle they are in, or whether or not they are driving.

Getting you started

By now you should have a good understanding of how roadside assistance works, and which level of cover would suit the way you drive.

See the benefits of's different breakdown cover options, at-a-glance, on our breakdown cover page.