A buyer’s guide to holiday breakdown cover


Motorists can end up with a mental breakdown trying to find the best and cheapest repair and recovery insurance for that big holiday road trip.

With dozens of firms offering complicated packages for roadside breakdown and recovery deals, picking the best deal for the right price is not easy.

So here’s a quick guide to some of the points to remember when buying breakdown cover for your car in the UK or Europe:

What’s the risk of a breakdown?

Check out your car and work out if you are likely to have a breakdown. Older cars are prime candidates – especially for overheating in holiday traffic.

Most new cars come with warranties that include breakdown and recovery, so check out your paperwork to see if you already have cover.

Insure the driver or the vehicle?

Different providers have varying cover options. Personal cover lets a motorist drive any car while vehicle cover is for a specific car driven by any driver.

If two of you are sharing the holiday driving, vehicle cover may be a better option.

What level of cover do you want?

Breakdown cover comes in two flavours – roadside assistance for incidents away from home and home assistance for breakdowns within a mile of home.

Then add the options, like hire cars, hotels and transport to take you on to your destination or to get you back home. These cover eventualities like staying somewhere overnight while a garage repairs your car or travelling back to a garage to pick up a car that has taken a few days to fix.

Where are you going?

Read the small print and make sure not only that your holiday destination is covered but the countries you drive through on the way there and back are too. Not every Europe breakdown package covers every permutation of countries.

Some include places like Morocco and Tunisia, while others miss out countries outside the European Union.

Motorhomes, caravans and trailers

Another small print check – some policies include caravans and trailers on tow, while others charge extra.

Many policies have height, length and weight restrictions on vehicles they cover – if you motorhome is particularly large, check the measurements against the policy before buying.

Car condition and mileage

Check your speedo and see how many miles you have clocked up. Some breakdown cover is costed on average annual mileage and some firms exclude cars that have driven over a certain number of miles, like more than 100,000 miles for example.

Almost all policies state the car should have been serviced according to the maker’s recommendations to qualify for breakdown cover.

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