Selecting the Best Breakdown Cover for You

You might have heard of breakdown cover or roadside assistance, the insurance that can help you out of a jam when your vehicle has an unexpected mechanical failure. You might wonder if you should get a breakdown policy, and just exactly what it can do for you.

Basic Breakdown Policies

A basic breakdown policy will usually cover things like broken fan bells, leaking hoses, flat tires, and flat batteries. When it comes to selecting a breakdown cover or roadside assistance policy, your vehicle’s age does matter. Most breakdown policies that help pay the cost of repair have a vehicle age limit. The most common limit is seven years or 15,000 miles traveled – whichever comes first. You can still get a roadside assistance policy, however, although you should probably expect to pay for supplies and parts. Both breakdown cover and roadside assistance can be compared and purchased at

Problems in Your Own Driveway

One more thing to know about a basic cover is that most policies will not apply if you are in your own driveway or even within ten miles of your home. You will need a separate or add-on cover for events that happen at home, such as being locked out of your car (with the keys inside) or waking up to a flat tire or a vehicle that won’t start. For those sorts of problems, you will need an At-Home cover.

Breakdowns with Pets

Special rules might apply if your vehicle breaks down and you have pets with you. Of course, as a conscientious pet owner, you already know that it is best for your pet’s safety and your own to restrain your fur babies during travel. This will usually mean a leash and perhaps a restraint harness for a medium or large size dog, or a pet carrier for a cat, small dog or other type of small animal. Even a slow-moving turtle can become a hazard if loose in a vehicle.

Those restraints will make dealing with your pet easier in the event of an auto breakdown. You will be able to safely move them to the verge of the road, and rescuers are likely to be more willing to transport an animal that is inside a carrier or on a leash than one that is unrestrained.

In some cases, the animal can be transported with your vehicle as it is being towed. While this might not be ideal, it is an option should the rescuer be uncomfortable with transporting your pet. If you have a pet that travels with you regularly, this is certainly something to think about.

Breakdown Cover is not a Substitute for Collision Cover

Breakdown cover and roadside assistance are intended as supplements to your regular vehicle insurance policy. They will not cover even so much as a fender bender, let alone a full-scale collision. When you are purchasing insurance for your vehicle, check with your agent to see if there is an overlap between their regular vehicle insurance and their breakdown cover.

Check the Policy on Maintenance

Your breakdown cover is not a substitute for regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance. Keep up with regular oil changes, inspections and tune-ups are part of the expense of being a vehicle owner. Some breakdown cover and roadside assistance policies have clauses that can exclude some parts of the desired coverage if your vehicle doesn’t get its regular visits to the auto mechanic.

Even with all these caveats and exceptions, breakdown cover or roadside assistance can bring a peace of mind when you are traveling.