Anyone who has been stranded at the side of the road because their car has broken down or they have had blow-out will appreciate the importance of breakdown cover.
And of course, there are the highly efficient who would never even take the risk and always ensure they have cover in place.
But what is the best way to buy breakdown insurance?
The most well-known providers are probably the AA and RAC. However, breakdown cover is a market that has developed and expanded significantly over recent years.
The number of standalone providers has increased but car insurers are getting in on the act too, either offering their own or a third party’s cover.
Breakdown cover is also a common benefit that is provided as part of packaged current accounts – these are the bank accounts that charge a monthly fee.
Here we look at the best value way of getting the protection you need.
Adding breakdown cover to your car insurance
On the face of it, you might think extending your car insurance policy to include breakdown cover would be the best-value option.
However, research we carried out at MoneySupermarket revealed some startling results and we discovered this is not necessarily the case.
We ran some insurance quotes for a 40-year old male teacher, living in M20, with a 2006 Ford Focus 1.8, who drives 10,000 miles a year and has five years’ no claims discount.
Key players: AA and RAC are the most well-known providers of breakdown cover
Kwik Fit would charge him £95.99 to add Kwik Assist Recovery to his car insurance policy.
Yet, he could buy exactly the same breakdown cover as a separate, standalone product for £58.70 – £37.29 less.
With esure, the teacher could add Green Flag Roadside Assistance to his policy at a cost of £36 but the same breakdown cover bought separately from Green would cost him £25.44 a year.
The level of cover also varies and may be lower than you would ideally want.
Esure, Endsleigh , LV= and Tesco offer roadside assistance as a standard bolt on to their car insurance policies but as the name suggests, this type of breakdown protection only covers you if you breakdown away from home.
It includes taking your vehicle to a destination within a certain radius from where you have broken down but that may not be ideal if you are stranded miles from home.
Therefore a more comprehensive, standalone breakdown policy could be a better option.
Comprehensive cover won’t necessarily break the bank
The AA and RAC may be the most well-known providers of breakdown cover, but they also tend to be among the most expensive.
Using the same details as those for the car insurance quotes above, an annual breakdown policy from the RAC would cost £131, while the AA charges £130.
Researching: Prices can vary considerably so it often pays to shop around
This is for the most comprehensive level of cover available (excluding European cover): it includes roadside assistance, nationwide recovery and home start.
As well as covering your vehicle it also offers you and your passengers protection covering your onward journey, accommodation in a hotel if needed, as well as car hire and caravan and trailer cover.
An equivalent policy from the lesser known Rescuemycar.com would cost £24.90. It can therefore really pay to shop around and compare prices from other providers.
Don’t pay twice
An increasing number of people have packaged current accounts. These are the bank accounts for which you pay a monthly fee, but in return receive additional benefits such as breakdown cover and travel insurance.
Packaged accounts are often maligned for offering poor value but many of those who have them think they are great. It all depends on what benefits you get and whether you use them. Much of this is down to how suitable the product is for your needs.
Barclays has recently overhauled its current account offerings. It has withdrawn its packaged accounts from the market and replaced them with ‘packs’ that can be added to its standard or premier account. Customers can then tailor their benefits to their needs.
If breakdown cover is one of the things you would find useful, the basic Travel Pack, costs £8.50 a month (£102 a year) and includes RAC roadside and home assistance as well as European family travel insurance.
If you would prefer a more comprehensive breakdown policy, the Travel Plus Pack, which costs £13.50 a month (£162 a year) gives you comprehensive breakdown cover from the RAC as well as worldwide family travel insurance and access to airport lounges.
Other current accounts that offer additional benefits don’t give the same choice however. With Halifax’s Ultimate Reward Account, which has a monthly fee of £10, assuming you pay in £1,000 or more each month, includes AA Breakdown cover with Home Start.
This may not be as comprehensive as you would like though. That said, you do also get worldwide family travel insurance, mobile phone insurance and home emergency cover so you need to weigh up whether a less comprehensive level of breakdown cover is acceptable for you.
By CLARE FRANCIS, MONEYSUPERMARKET.COM