What’s the best breakdown cover for cars?


Essential insurance’s for car, driver and family members

Car breakdown cover is one of those essential services for today’s motorist. Car insurers often bundle roadside assistance within quotes but you still end up paying without the chance to compare providers, levels of cover and prices.

There are some great breakdown policies on offer at very reasonable prices. But, as with many services, it’s easy to be paying well over average for a product you may not claim on.

Cheapest breakdown cover UK

The big three breakdown providers are AA (Automobile Association), RAC and Green Flag. Lesser known firms include Rescue My Car and Start Rescue.

If you are looking for instant affordable roadside insurance, we suggest a look at AA Standard that carries a handful of extras:

A simple, straightforward and cheap breakdown service from the AA

  • AA Standard includes Roadside Assistance (unlimited callouts) and At Home Callout.
  • £12 per month for an individual and £19 per month for you and three family members. Check out the deal here

From our market test essential driver cover, this is the cheapest breakdown service in the UK.

The best roadside rescue breakdown cover UK.

Levels of breakdown cover

Breakdown assistance is essential if you do a lot of driving and if you have an older car.

All basic policies include roadside assistance that will rescue you, passengers and your car. Oftentimes, a mechanic will repair your car at the side of the road but the more expensive roadside policies can drive you to your destination and have your car fixed at your chosen garage.

Note the difference between breakdown cover and car insurance. The latter covers you in case of a road traffic accident.

Comparing breakdown cover

The basic types of car breakdown policy and assistance

Policies drop into two categories – basic roadside assistance breakdown cover and pay and claim.


(Standard) Basic roadside assistance car breakdown cover

Standard roadside support is popular and simple to choose from, usually based on price.

A 12-month deal paid monthly with the AA is a good value at £12. It now includes:

  • Unlimited callouts
  • Roadside Assistance
  • Home-Start Cover

It means that if your car breaks down, AA will send assistance from one of their fleet roadside agents.

You can call them as many times as you need for the duration of your policy

If your car won’t’ start at home you can still get help. So, a decent level of cover at a reasonable price, AA Standard works well.

You can also get covered if you’re a passenger in someone else’s car. For just £1 more, you’re covered.

For £19 per month, AA standard breakdown cover policy covers you and up to three people you live with as drivers or passengers!

Visit AA now to look at this deal

Standard car breakdown cover is the most popular type of breakdown insurance and is often the most straightforward choice.

The big 3 providers AA, RAC and Green Flag offer similar covers but the AA basic roadside is a trusted name and affordable price.

Important information:
Some car breakdown cover policies limit the number of roadside callouts you can have in a 12-month period. It’s becoming a little outdated as companies compete on the features and costs of services. But take a look at the small print exclusions on the policy you end up choosing.

Vehicle-Based breakdown service providers

As it suggests, cover applies to a specific car. Any roadside callout for the car is dealt with but this doesn’t include being a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.

Personal breakdown services

You buy coverage for yourself regardless of the vehicle you are travelling in. The product insures you as a passenger should you breakdown whilst in a vehicle different from your own. There can be some exclusions with a personal cover so be sure to look over the small print before you buy.

What is the level of cover by each provider?

All breakdown companies have unique policies, terms and conditions. But we can look at the essentials via three main levels of cover.

Roadside recovery assistance

Every car breakdown insurance includes roadside vehicle recovery as their core product. If you are unlucky enough to need help whilst driving, your provider will send immediate help.

Note that roadside assistance often excludes home address cover. Annoyingly, you’ll need to be a minimum of a one-quarter mile away from your registered address to qualify for help. Home help is usually a separate product. But again, double-check your breakdown insurance providers policy before your buy.

Simple to fix issues such as a flat battery or puncture are repaired at the roadside. If there is a more serious mechanical issue your car and its passengers will be recovered.

The level of insurance you have determines where your faulty car is taken. Comprehensive policies get your car to a garage of your choice whilst basic plans only guarantee local delivery. Check small print at the point of buying cover.

Home assistance insurance

Home-Start assistance helps should your car have a mechanical issue at your home address or area local to where you live.

If you have road recovery insurance, the residential cover is a good idea but is often charged separately. As we’ve already noted, AA’s new Basic Breakdown includes Home Cover.

Check it on the AA website

Onward travel insurance

An add-on product that helps you to either get back home or take you to your final destination.

We personally feel that free car hire is a better option, especially when driving in Europe. The top-grade insurances include the cost of hiring a car or accommodation for yourself and any passengers whilst your car undergoes repair.

Choosing the level of car breakdown cover that’s right for you

We have personal circumstances that dictate the level of cover we want to buy. You may want more peace of mind as a parent with young children. Perhaps you have health issues or drive above average mileage. Or your car might be older and a little unreliable.

Your car breakdown cover needs to buy peace of mind. Oftentimes, it is why we opt for traditional providers like the AA or RAC.

Keep in mind that your goal is to never access the policy. Hopefully, your car will remain reliable and long-lasting. Having said that, most of us have had a puncture or flat battery at some point in our driving careers.

European breakdown cover


Single trip and annual policies

Comprehensive European cover is essential insurance when driving abroad. If you travel abroad regularly, annual cover will save money.

Look at the period exclusions as policy providers tend to cap the period of validity. The single trip cover might last 21 days, annual cover may over 60 days.

Tip – see if you can addon Euro cover to your current policy. Check out the AA for more details.

Look out for the countries and regions you are covered in. AA works in Zones:

  • Zone A includes France, Ireland and the Low Countries
  • Zone B includes Western Europe
  • Zone C includes the EU and beyond.


The best policies include:

  • Full roadside assistance
  • Before and after car hire
  • Accommodation insurance
  • Unlimited claims per trip

In rare circumstances, your breakdown insurance provider needs to be informed when driving abroad. Check terms and conditions before you buy or travel.

Car insurance cover quotes with breakdown cover included

Get a range of car insurance policy quotes that include breakdown, car hire, windscreen damage and second drivers included.

Confused.com have a useful tool to compare hundreds of providers on a single webpage without obligation to buy.

Combined services can save you some time but are not always the cheapest. You also become limited on the level of cover which makes it a little tricky to know exactly what you are buying.

Important: No recovery service is free of charge so be on the lookout for claims of ‘free vehicle breakdown cover’ that are simply woven into the overall car insurance quote.

Vehicle recovery exclusions

If you breakdown on the side of the road you will expect you, your passengers and your car to be rescued, no questions asked. It is worth a few minutes to check for any potential exclusions to roadside assistance in your hour of need.

Exclusions might include punctures, damage to bodywork and rescuing pets.

More reading? Head to our homepage for details about our car check service.