Breakdown / Roadside Assistance
Breakdown cover is known by a variety of names, most commonly Roadside Recovery and Roadside Rescue. It provides assistance to motorists who have broken down and are unable to continue their journey.
Breakdown cover is a sound investment for anyone who regularly travels by car. It is particularly suitable for people who own older vehicles, for those who regularly drive at night or in remote areas, families and business travellers or commuters.
Roadside assistance and breakdown coverage are services that assist motorists, whose vehicles have suffered a mechanical failure that leaves the driver and possible passengers stranded.
A vehicle breakdown is the mechanical failure of a motor vehicle in such a way that the underlying problem prevents the vehicle from being operated at all, or impedes the vehicle's operation so much, that it is very difficult, nearly impossible, or else dangerous to operate. Vehicle breakdowns can occur for a large number of reasons. Depending on the nature of the problem, the vehicle may or may not need to be towed to a Garage.
In a partial breakdown, the vehicle may still be operable, but its operation may become more limited or more dangerous, or else its continued operation may contribute to further damage to the vehicle. Often, when this occurs, it may be possible to drive the vehicle to a garage, thereby avoiding a tow.
Some common causes of a partial breakdown include overheating, brake failure, or frequent stalling.
With other problems, the driver may be able to operate the vehicle seemingly normally for some time, but the vehicle will need an eventual repair. These include grinding brakes, rough idle (often caused by the need for a tune-up), or poor shock absorption. Many vehicle owners with personal economic difficulty or a busy schedule may wait longer than they should to get necessary repairs made to their vehicles, thereby increasing damage or else causing more danger.
A total breakdown is when the vehicle becomes totally immobile and cannot be driven even a short distance to reach a garage, thereby necessitating a tow. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including complete engine failure, or a dead starter or battery, though a dead battery may be able to be temporarily resolved with a ‘jump start’.
When a total breakdown occurs, the motorist may be able to have the service paid for by a roadside assistance plan. This may be available through an organisation like AA, RAC, the vehicle's manufacturer, the vehicle insurance policy, or in some cases, another service the driver subscribes to, such as a mobile phone company.
Standard breakdown cover
Standard breakdown cover is offered by the majority of breakdown companies and is the most convenient option for most customers.
You choose the level of cover that best suits your needs and pay an annual fee up front. Any call outs you make during the period of cover are then free of charge.
You'll have the choice between personal breakdown cover or vehicle-based cover.
The former covers you as the passenger in any car you are travelling in, providing it falls within the breakdown company's conditions.
The latter covers the nominated vehicle only. Some breakdown companies, such as the AA and RAC, have their own patrols while others, such as Green Flag, will contract out to local recovery services.
When it comes to choosing between the two, your main considerations will be price and convenience. This is because both options will provide the same level of cover and average call-out times (about 40 minutes).
If convenience is important to you, with standard cover you can avoid the hassle of paying for the call out up front and then having to reclaim the money back.
Breakdown Cover Levels
Breakdown companies often have their own definitions for the different cover levels and services they provide, but they are all likely to offer four main options:
All breakdown policies include roadside assistance. If you break down away from home (providing you are over a quarter of a mile away) then your breakdown company will send somebody to fix the problem at the roadside.
If your vehicle can't be fixed it will be towed (or recovered) to the nearest garage or your home, normally whichever is closer. Policies typically include up to 60 minutes of free labour, but the cost of replacement parts is not included.
This provides cover in the event of your vehicle breaking down at your home address or within a set distance of it - normally within a quarter of a mile.
If the vehicle can't be repaired at the roadside it will be recovered, along with any passengers. Some policies will transport the car to a local garage, others will arrange for its transportation to your home. Check the policy details before you buy to find out what's covered.
Levels of onward travel cover can vary enormously between different breakdown companies. Depending on the policy, it may include car hire or alternative transportation to your chosen destination or home address, or accommodation while your vehicle is repaired.
Most breakdown companies also offer European cover, either as a stand-alone policy or as an add-on to a standard policy. If you plan on taking your car to the continent then European breakdown cover can be a sound investment.
Breaking down abroad is not only costly but can be complicated, too. With European breakdown cover you'll deal with English-speaking representatives and the recovery process will be quicker and less stressful.
The level of breakdown cover that's right for you will, of course, depend on your circumstances, including the age of your vehicle and your annual mileage.
How you use the vehicle will have a bearing on the level of cover you need. For example, the requirements of a driver who does a high mileage and relies on their vehicle for commuting or business use will be different from those of a driver who only uses their car now and again for short trips in their own locality.
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Breakdown / Roadside Assistance
If you spend a lot of time on the road, Breakdown/Roadside Assistance could be a lifesaver. When your vehicle breaks down, you’ll get roadside repair and you’ll even be able to hitch a ride if your vehicle can’t be fixed right away