Car insurance explained

Car insurance explained

Breakdown cover guide

quarter of a million cars breakdown every year.But did you know your standard car insurance doesn’t cover this?

Your basic car insurance will typically cover you for fire, theft and damage but not if your car just… breaks. That’s where breakdown cover comes in.

What is breakdown cover?

Breakdown cover is a type of car insurance add-on that covers you if your vehicle stops working. At a minimum, it will usually guarantee you a call-out from a nearby mechanic. They’ll check over your car, and decide whether it’s a roadside fix or if your vehicle needs to go to a garage for repair. Then depending on your package, it might also cover related costs, like using alternative transport to finish your journey.

Standard car insurance doesn’t usually include breakdown cover. Most insurers (including boom) work with third-party breakdown providers, like the RAC, so that you can buy it at the same time as your car insurance.

What happens when you breakdown?

First of all, make sure you’re in a safe position. If it’s a regular road, try to stay calm and pull over to the left. If you can’t do that, take out your warning triangle and place it 45m before your vehicle. Always remember to exit the vehicle and find a safe place to the side of the road, if you can. At night time or in foggy weather, keep your side lights on to give other road users some extra warning.

When you’re on a motorway, safety is even more important. If you’re still able to drive the car, turn on the hazard lights and get off at the closest exit. But if not, pull the car over to the left side – sometimes there’s a hard shoulder on the motorway. Make sure everyone leaves the vehicle (if it’s safe) through the side furthest away from traffic, climbing over seats if you have to. If there’s hi vis clothing in the car, it’s time to put it on.Find the nearest emergency telephone box and call the highways agency.

Time to call for roadside assistance

This is the number that your breakdown insurer provides in case your car gets into any issues. The breakdown company will find a mechanic and call on your behalf or give you the contact details.When the mechanic turns up, they’ll assess your car. Then one of two things will happen:

  • The mechanic can make a quick fix there and then, so you and your car can drive off into the sunset.
  • The mechanic cannot fix the car roadside, so calls a tow truck to bring your vehicle to the garage for repair.

If your car is out of action, your insurance might pay for you to complete your journey using a courtesy car or public transport (this is called onward travel). It might also cover you for an overnight stay if you’re stranded away from home. But this depends on your level of cover… more on that later.

What happens when you breakdown without cover?

The first thing to note is that you can’t buy breakdown cover when you breakdown, you have to buy it in advance. So, if you have vehicle problems without breakdown cover, you won’t get support from your insurer. The responsibility is on you to find a local mechanic. You may need to go through a few phone numbers to find one that’s available.

Then, you’ll pay for any mechanic fixes or checks out-of-pocket. Just to put that into perspective, emergency A-road recovery costs £150-£300 on average.Even if you do have some level of breakdown cover, it might not cover every trip.  European cover is an extra option designed for trips outside of the UK. Breaking down without insurance in this instance can be even more complicated. You’ll have to communicate with a local mechanic and get your car to a garage without support.

Is breakdown cover worth it?

Breakdown cover is not a legal requirement, so it’s up to you whether you buy it. Here are some questions to help you decide if it’s for you.

How old is your car?

Some cars can go for a decade or more without experiencing any problems.In the UK, breakdowns are most likely to happen during years 11 and 15 of a car’s life.

Are you on warranty?

Warranties are policies from car manufacturers to protect against electrical faults or breakages. The length of your car warranty depends on its manufacturer, but the average is 3 years of coverage from new. The exception is Kia, which offers 7 years of warranty. When your warranty ends, breakdown cover becomes more important as the car isn’t protected through other means.

How essential is your car?

If your car were to break down tonight, would you be able to get through the next few days without much hassle? If having a car to get around is essential to yours and your family’s lifestyle, breakdown cover becomes more important. Those who would experience huge inconvenience from a breakdown would benefit from the peace of mind of breakdown insurance more than others.

Can you afford it?

The other factor to consider is whether breakdown insurance is within your budget. Insurance in general can be costly, so think about whether you can afford to opt for breakdown insurance (and whether you could afford to break down without it).

Levels of breakdown cover

You can get different levels of breakdown cover depending on where you’re driving and how much peace of mind you want. It’s important to note that breakdown cover doesn’t usually cover the cost of repairs or replacements. At boom, we work with the UK’s most popular breakdown provider, the RAC to offer a breakdown cover

UK roadside and recovery

This is the most basic level of cover at boom, including:

  • Assistance at the side of the road
  • Recovery if your car is more than a quarter of a mile outside of your home. Recovery refers to towing to an eligible local garage (within 10 miles).

UK Roadside, recovery and at home

This includes:

  • Assistance at the side of the road
  • Recovery to any UK destination
  • Home start – this means that your provider will get a mechanic to your home address in the event that your car won’t start.

UK roadside, recovery, at home and onward travel

This includes:

  • Assistance at the side of the road
  • Recovery to any UK destination
  • Home start
  • Replacement hire car while your vehicle is being fixed in the garage
  • Overnight accommodation if required

European roadside, recovery, at home and onward travel

This is the highest level of cover at boom, including:

  • Assistance at the side of the road
  • Recovery to any UK destination
  • Home start
  • Replacement hire car while your vehicle is being fixed in the garage
  • Overnight accommodation if required
  • Breakdown assistance in Europe

Breakdown cover add-ons

When you buy a car insurance policy, you get to customise it. For example, setting your excess, or protecting your no claims bonus. With a breakdown cover policy, there are also some add-ons that you can pay extra for. These can provide comfort and support in the event of a breakdown. Here are some examples of add-ons:

  • Key replacement
  • Tyre replacement
  • Battery replacement

Key replacement

At boom, we offer key replacement as an add-on to any car insurance policy. But you can sometimes access key replacement through your breakdown cover. This grants you a quick new car key if you lose or damage the original, as well as things like a contribution to the cost of finishing your journey.

Tyre replacement

You’ll need to replace your tyres after 20,000 miles, according to industry experts. But if you don’t have a spare when your tyre blows, you’ll have to call out the breakdown mechanic. The cost of replacement isn’t included as standard. As an add-on, tyre replacement covers you in case you’ve popped a tyre on the road. A mechanic will come and change the tyre on your behalf, saving you the cost of the service.

Battery replacement

Likewise, breakdown cover doesn’t usually cover the cost of a battery replacement. But some providers will let you add cover onto your insurance to guarantee a free replacement if your battery can’t be recharged.

Personal breakdown cover vs vehicle cover

As an individual, you can get personal cover for breakdowns. This is whether you are the driver, or a passenger. Alternatively, vehicle cover is for a specific vehicle, no matter who is driving.

You might choose personal breakdown cover if you drive more than one car (like when couples share both of their vehicles). It also means you’ll be covered if you’re just a passenger, which is extra important if the driver doesn’t have breakdown insurance.

However, this means that the vehicle won’t be covered when you’re not in the car. This means vehicle cover might be better if there are multiple drivers for your car. Families might opt for this type of breakdown cover since it protects any driver. But if you then drive another vehicle which doesn’t have its own vehicle cover, you won’t be protected.

How can you get breakdown cover?

The easiest way to get breakdown cover is to buy it as an add-on when you get your car insurance. It will last for as long as your policy lasts, and you can choose to automatically renew it when the period lapses.

At boom, we work with RAC breakdown cover to get help when you need it. You’ll get roadside assistance and can choose from over four levels of cover to find the level of support that suits you.

It’s part of our suite of add-ons, which also includes car key insurance, no claims bonus protection and windscreen insurance.

Get your boom policy and add-on breakdown cover here.

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