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Cheap Breakdown Cover

Roadside assistance from £22/year

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Tony | Edited by Dan

Updated June 2016

Too many people auto-renew breakdown cover and pay over the odds. Know where to look and you can often get a cheap basic AA or RAC policy without paying the full price, or comprehensive cover for less than £50 a year.

This guide reveals the best ways to cut the cost of breakdown cover, including tips on how haggling can help.

Breakdown cover need-to-knows...

The days of mutual motoring clubs are long gone - roadside recovery policies are big business. So forget loyalty and focus on getting the top deal. Here are five need-to-knows to read before checking the best buys...

  • Breakdown firms are among the easiest to haggle with

    When it comes to haggling, don't think you need to be in backstreet bazaars - haggling successes are high with breakdown cover. In a poll we conducted in Dec 2015 (see our top 10 service companies to haggle with) of various service companies, AA was rated the easiest to haggle with, RAC 3rd. Here’s how MoneySavers fared with the major breakdown firms.

    Haggling success with breakdown cover
    Provider Number of responses Success Fail
    AA Breakdown 494 88% 12%
    RAC 227 85% 15%
    Green Flag 59 73% 27%
    Other 42 69% 31%

    We hear of lots of successes of breakdown cover customers successfully getting a better deal with nothing more than a quick call and a bit of charm. Here's inspiration before you begin..

    Thanks for the haggling advice. Just spent five minutes on the phone to the RAC and got my renewal slashed from £252 to £151. Just over £100 for about five minutes work – that'll do nicely! - Graham, by email

    AA renewal came in at almost £200, final cost around £120, same price as new customers. Always haggle! - @Violet_Aurella

    Just this morning got twenty quid knocked off my renewal and onward travel added onto my RAC policy. Always worth a try.- @PSBWon

    Haggled RAC renewal down by 25%. - @deefer66

    Quick tips

    Here are our top 10 haggling tips...

    If your car's shiny and new, do you need the full works?

    If you've a modern, reliable car, then you only need cover as an emergency back-up plan, so basic cover is likely to be enough. If your car's older, or has a history of breakdowns, you should consider a more comprehensive policy.

    There are three main UK cover types. If a policy just has the first, we classify it as 'basic'. If it has all three, we call it 'comprehensive':

    • Basic cover. It typically means your car will be fixed at the roadside or towed to a local garage. But it won't usually cover you if you breakdown close to your home.

    • Home start. In addition to basic cover, you will be covered for a problem if your motor won't start at home.

    • Onward travel. If your car's kept in a garage for repairs, this generally means you'll get a hire car for up to three days, plus a night's accommodation. It also covers costs if you need to continue by public transport.

  • Driving in Europe? Ensure you're covered

    If you're planning to go regularly, consider taking out an annual breakdown policy with European cover.

    If you'll only need it for a few days a year, a cheap UK policy which you can upgrade to cover Europe when you need it, may be better. Always check the option is available before taking out the policy - and ask how long it takes to add before it come into effect - some impose exclusions against claims in the first 15 days from the start of the extension.

    See our Cheap European Cover section for the best deals for annual and single cover.

    Finally, don't forget to arrange travel insurance and notify your car insurer to get that extra protection while you're abroad.

  • It can be cheaper to pay and claim

    There are two ways providers will let you claim on a policy and it's important to understand which you're getting.

    • Automatic service. With this, you call up when you breakdown and the provider send its patrols (or sometimes sub-contracted ones) to sort it. Breakdown heavyweights RAC and AA both work this way.

    • Pay and claim. This isn't as common. When there's a problem, the provider sends a local recovery firm, chosen by you or it, rather than its own patrols.

      You pay for the repairs (let it know if you want to pay by card so it can ensure the patrol accepts it), and send in the receipt to claim it back later.

    If it's cheaper, isn't pay and claim a no brainer?

  • Always check whether you're covering a car or a person

    You can either cover the car you're in or you can take out personal cover which protects you no matter what car you're driving. Buying personal cover is typically more expensive so only go for this if you think you'll need it.

    If you never swap motors the pricier policy is pointless, but if you regularly drive other people's cars, it's worth thinking about. It's also worth pointing out that, if you're towing a caravan, your policy will usually extend to this as well.

    Most specialist caravan policies don’t include breakdown cover so, as a rule, if your caravan hits a pothole and damages its chassis (so it can’t move), then your car breakdown policy will cover you for being towed home or to a garage.

  • A joint policy can be cheaper than two (three or four) single policies

    Getting a husband and wife/partner policy (or one for the family) usually works out cheaper than buying individual policies for each person in the home. For example, Autoaid will cover you and your spouse for £42/yr, the same price as for an individual.

    Alternatively, choose the AA’s basic cover of £50 for an individual, £85 for a couple. The RAC equivalent is £50 for an individual, £80 for a couple. You can often undercut these costs (whether buying as a single or joint policy) using cashback sites, but these examples show the principle that joint policies often beat two singles.

Best buys : Cover from £22/year

Once you know the basics, use our best buys below to find your cheapest policy. The order starts with basic cover, see the tabs for other options, incl fully comprehensive or European.

Before getting a policy, always check the full terms to check they suit you. Please let us know if you've any feedback, or think we've missed anything

RAC

Cheapest basic cover using cashback sites

RAC basic vehicle cover £22/yr after cashback

The basic vehicle policy from the RAC* is £29.99 per year. It covers breakdowns when you're more than a quarter of a mile from your home, towing your vehicle back to the garage and includes 24-hour assistance.

You can get personal cover too, which will protect you as a driver or passenger in another car, for £49.99 per year.

Want to save more? Go via Topcashback* and get back £7.85, making the cost £22.14 per year for a vehicle-based policy. Choose the personal-based policy and the cashback amount is £14.66, also via Topcashback*, reducing the premium to £35.33/yr.

The cashback amount via Quidco*, is £6.50 if you choose the vehicle-based cover and £12 for the personal-based cover.

Should you choose to use one of the cashback sites, you must pay in full upfront and not on a monthly basis.

IMPORTANT - Cashback is never guaranteed. Cashback sites list retailers and product providers, and get paid if you click through them, then give some, or all of the cash to you.

Make sure you read the Top Cashback Sites guide before doing this. Problems shouldn't arise but the payout's are never 100% guaranteed. If cashback sites don't get paid by the RAC, you usually don't either, so you'll pay full price. Check the Cashback Safety Rules.

Feedback for RAC breakdown cover is available on our forum (please feedback if you have any experience with it).

Stats box
  • What's included? Basic vehicle cover. No restriction to the age of the vehicle applies
  • Deal: £22.14 RAC cover after cashback
  • Average call-out time: 34 mins
  • Contract length: One year
  • Euro cover upgrade: With personal cover only, price varies
AA

Cheapest AA basic cover using cashback

AA basic vehicle cover £34/yr after cashback

The basic vehicle policy from the AA* costs £39 per year and covers breakdowns which are more than a quarter of a mile from your home.

If you want personal cover instead, which protects you as a driver or a passenger in another vehicle, it's £49 per year.

Want to save more? Go via cashback site Topcashback* and get £5 back on policies where the premium is between £30 and £50.99. This reduces the £39 vehicle-only policy to £34/yr . For personal cover (where you can use more than one car), the cashback amount via Topcashback* is also £5, making it £44/yr all in.

To get At Home cover for an extra £3, select the vehicle-based cover with the At Home extension, which is usually £89, via Topcashback* and get £52.38 cashback. This works out to be £36.62/yr, when you go via Topcashback*, which is only £2.62 more than the basic Roadside Assistance vehicle cover policy.

Alternatively, the cashback amount via Quidco* is also £5 for the vehicle-only and personal cover policies, where the premium is between £30 and £50.99.

IMPORTANT - Cashback is never guaranteed. Cashback sites list retailers and product providers, and get paid if you click through them, then give you some or all of this cash.

Do read the Top Cashback Sites guide before doing this. Problems shouldn't arise with these deals, but the payout's never 100% guaranteed. If a cashback site doesn't get paid by the AA, you usually don't either, so you'll pay full price. Check the Cashback Safety Rules.

Feedback for AA breakdown cover is available on our forum (please feedback if you have any experience with it).

Stats box
  • What's included? AA's vehicle cover. No restriction to the age of the vehicle applies
  • Deal: £34 AA cover after cashback
  • Average call-out time: 30 mins
  • Contract length: One year
  • Euro cover upgrade: No upgrade on basic policy
RAC

Cheapest non-cashback deal if with vouchers

Cheap RAC cover using Tesco Clubcard points

If you're a Tesco shopper, hoard your Clubcard points then use them for ultra-cheap RAC breakdown cover, including basic personal roadside assistance for £16 per year.

How does it work? Spend Tesco Clubcard vouchers on goods or services listed in its Deals brochure, and you get back up to four times their face value.

The RAC roadside policy is included and you can sometimes get it for about a third of the cost. For more info, read Loyalty Points Boosting.

Which policies can I get? You can't get every single policy type, so we've listed the ones available and their prices in Tesco points in the table below.

Feedback for RAC breakdown cover is available on our forum (please feedback if you have any experience with it).

RAC policies available on Tesco Clubcard

Stats box
  • What's included? Varies
  • Deal: Cheap RAC personal cover with Tesco points
  • Average call-out time: 34 mins
  • Contract length: One year
  • Euro cover upgrade: Varies
KWIK FIT

Cheapest basic cover for cars up to 5-yrs old

Kwik Fit Insurance from £12.70 basic vehicle cover

Kwik Fit Insurance* sells basic vehicle-only roadside cover from £12.70 per year, while personal cover, which will protect you as a driver or a passenger in another vehicle, is from £27.71 per year.

It's for cars less than five years old and breakdowns further than a mile from your house. It includes an hour's roadside labour, after which your car will be towed to the nearest garage.

Kwik Fit Insurance is a relative newcomer, so we've limited feedback. Please let us know how you get on in the forum discussion.

Stats box
  • What's included? Basic cover, vehicle-based (covers any driver)
  • Deal: from £12.70 cover for cars 5yrs & younger (see T&Cs for charges)
  • Average call-out time: 39 mins
  • Contract length: One year
  • Euro cover upgrade: Available
AutoAid

Cheapest full cover pay 'n' claim for couples

AutoAid £42 full cover for you & your spouse

Little-known company AutoAid is our overall top pick. It's a pay and reclaim policy and is backed by Right Choice Insurance Brokers.

Considering what's included, nothing really comes close for price unless you've a stockpile of Tesco Clubcard vouchers. picture of oil can

  • It insures the person, not the car. This means vehicle age, mileage and reliability are irrelevant, plus caravans and trailers will also be towed if attached to your car. You’ll be covered no matter what car you’re driving.

  • Free cover for a husband, wife or civil partner. The same cover above applies to a spouse if you’re married or in a civil partnership.

  • It provides onward transport. Most budget policies only fix the car at the roadside or tow it to a garage. With AutoAid you'll get transport to your destination for up to six people in total (inclusive of the driver).

  • Home breakdown cover, limited to £65. It pays for labour and recovery, but not parts. So if you need help to get the car started at home, this is usually enough to cover the callout fee and any basic labour charge.

AutoAid's been our top pick for a few years and MoneySavers who use it almost universally report good feedback - add your experiences.

After roadside assistance, cover at home and national recovery from the AA, a couple would normally pay over £100 - yet AutoAid provides the same for just £42.35 a year and pays back claims in around 14 days.

Stats box
  • What's included? Home cover, onward transport, free cover for a spouse
  • Average call out time: 40 mins
  • Contract length: One year
  • Euro cover upgrade: Available on a separate policy
RAC

At Home cover from big-name provider

RAC £59 fully comp vehicle cover after cashback

Comprehensive RAC* vehicle cover, which includes At Home and National Recovery (which will take you, your passengers and the car to your chosen destination) is £121.99 per year. The personal cover equivalent, which will protect you as a driver or a passenger in another vehicle, is currently at a reduced premium of £131.99 per year.

Also, for a limited time, you can also add onward travel, which provides you with a replacement car, overnight accommodation or alternative transport, with no increase to the premium, which remains at £121.99/yr for the vehicle cover policy and £131.99 for the personal cover policy.

Want to save more? Buy this comprehensive At Home and National Recovery (with or without onward travel) RAC* policy via Topcashback* and you can get cashback of £62.85, bringing the cost of the vehicle-only cover to £59.14 (use Quidco* and get cashback of £50) and the personal cover policy to £69.14. You must pay in full upfront, not monthly.

The cashback with Quidco* is £50 for both the vehicle based and personal based level of cover when the premium is between £116 and £148.99..

IMPORTANT - Cashback is never guaranteed. Cashback sites list retailers and product providers, get paid if you click through them, then give you some or all of this cash.

Make sure you read Top Cashback Sites guide before doing this. There shouldn't be problems, but the payout's never 100% guaranteed. If a site doesn't get paid by the RAC, you usually don't either, so you'll pay full price. Check Cashback Safety Rules.

Feedback for RAC breakdown cover is available on our forum (please feedback if you have any experience with it).

Stats box
  • What's included? RAC's vehicle cover. No restriction to the age of the vehicle applies
  • Deal: £59.14 RAC cover after cashback
  • Average call-out time: 34 mins
  • Contract length: One year
  • Euro upgrade: Available on personal cover
AA

Home start cover from a big name provider

AA £62 fully comp vehicle cover after cashback

Comprehensive AA* vehicle only cover, which includes home start with national recovery (which will take you, your passengers and the car to your chosen destination) is £125 per year.

The personal cover equivalent, which will protect you as a driver or a passenger in another vehicle, comes in at £135 per year.

Should you wish to add onward travel, which provides you with a replacement car, overnight accommodation or alternative transport, this increases the premium, to £149/yr for the vehicle cover policy and £159 for the pesonal cover policy.

Want to save more? Buy an AA* breakdown policy via Topcashback*, where the premium is between £116 and £148.99, and get cashback of £62.85.

This cuts the cost of the £125 vehicle cover, with National Recovery and Onward Travel, to £62.15 and the £135 personal cover policy down to £72.15 via Topcashback*.

Alternatively, you can use via Quidco* and get cashback of £50 when the premium ranges from £116 to £148.99.

Should you choose to use one of the cashback sites, you must pay in full upfront and not on a monthly basis.

IMPORTANT - Cashback is never guaranteed. Cashback sites list retailers and product providers, get paid if you click through them, then give you some or all of this cash.

Make sure you read Top Cashback Sites guide before doing this. There shouldn't be problems, but the payout's never 100% guaranteed. If a cashback site doesn't get paid by the AA, you usually don't either, so you'll pay full price. Check Cashback Safety Rules.

Feedback for AA breakdown cover is available on our forum (please feedback if you have any experience with it).

Stats box
  • What's included? AA's vehicle cover. No restriction to the age of the vehicle applies
  • Deal: £62.15 after cashback
  • Average call-out time: 30 mins
  • Contract length: One year
  • Euro cover upgrade: Available
RAC

Cheapest non-cashback deal if you've got vouchers

Cheap RAC cover using Tesco Clubcard points

If you're a Tesco shopper, hoard your Clubcard points then use them to slash the cost. Here, you can get roadside assistance plus home start and onward travel for £48 per year.

How does it work? Spend Tesco Clubcard vouchers on goods or services listed in its Deals brochure and you get back up to four times their face value.

One of the deals offered is an RAC roadside recovery policy, meaning you can sometimes get it at about a third of the cost. For more info, read Loyalty Points Boosting.

Which policies can I get? You can't get every single policy type, so we've listed the ones available and their prices in Tesco points in the table below.

Feedback for RAC breakdown cover is available on our forum (please feedback if you have any experience with it).

RAC policies available on Tesco Clubcard

Stats box
  • What's included? Varies
  • Deal: Cheaper RAC personal cover via Tesco pts
  • Average call-out time: 34 mins
  • Contract length: One year
  • Euro cover upgrade: Varies
Kwik Fit Insurance

Cheapest full autoservice cover for cars up to 5yrs

KWIK FIT Insurance from £28 full cover

It's cheaper than AutoAid, but this full service policy only covers a specific car that's less than five years old, while AutoAid provides cover for two people.

Kwik Fit Insurance* is from £27.71 per year and covers the vehicle, not people like AutoAid does.

This includes home start and roadside repairs, plus onward recovery for you and passengers. We also have less feedback on it, so we can't vouch for its reliability - let us know your experiences in the forum discussion.

Stats box
  • What's included? Roadside repairs, home start, onward recovery. Vehicle-based (covers any driver)
  • Deal: from £28 full cover (see T&Cs for charges)
  • Avg call out time: 39 mins
  • Contract length: One year
  • Euro cover upgrade: Available
Kwik Fit Insurance

Cheapest full cover, incl. Europe

Kwik Fit Insurance from £57 full cover PLUS Europe

The Kwik Fit Insurance* Euro Recovery policy costs from £57 per year and includes roadside repair and onward recovery and home start for the UK. The policy includes 60 days of cover in Europe over the policy (max 31 days cover per trip).

This price covers cars aged up to five years old - watch out, as it jumps to £108 when your car is six or older. If this applies to you, see below for a cheaper alternative.

We also have less feedback on it, so we can't vouch for its reliability - let us know your experiences in the forum discussion.

Stats box
  • What's included? 60 days Euro roadside repairs, and much more. Vehicle-based cover
  • Deal: from £57 full cover incl Europe (see T&Cs for charges)
  • Average call out time: 39 mins
  • Contract length: One year
  • Euro cover upgrade: N/A

Comprehensive European Cover

picture of cars

Kwik Fit covers you for basic breakdowns in Europe, providing you with roadside assistance for your vehicle only.

You can get comprehensive European breakdown cover, which will include accommodation costs and travel expenses if your trip is disrupted, from the AA* and RAC* on both a single trip and an annual basis.

Beware, however, that comprehensive cover can be quite costly, with the price depending on many factors including the age of your car, which European country you are travelling to and how many people are making the trip.

One-off and specialist policies

picture of carsIf you're looking for one-off or specialist policies, MoneySupermarket* allows you to compare roadside recovery tariffs.

It misses some of the best deals above so it doesn't always get the very cheapest, yet if you've specific needs it can quickly find a competitive quote.

Check special deals

A few companies have special deals and some car insurers bundle free breakdown with their car insurance cover (see our car insurance guide). These currently include:

Compare Breakdown Cover

Compare Breakdown Cover - 10% off

This provider is new to our car breakdown guide and it allows you to choose a variety of levels of cover (UK and European cover). Buy a new policy via our MSE blagged Compare Breakdown Cover* link by 30 September 2016, when you use the code MSE03, and you will get 10% off in the first year.

NOTE - New additon with limited feedback

As mentioned, this provider is new to our car breakdown guide and we have very little feedback to share. Let us know your experiences and how you get on in the forum discussion.

AA

Free AA breakdown

Buy a car policy via the AA* and you'll get free breakdown cover for the first year if you're a new customer.

Q&A

  • How safe are these policies?

  • What happens if the breakdown company damages my car?

  • Could I already be covered if I've recently bought a new car?

  • Should you get breakdown cover with your car insurance policy?

  • Can I get covered via my current account?

  • What if I need assistance and my pets are in the vehicle with me?

How to complain about your insurance provider

The insurance industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include claims either not being paid out on time or at all, unfair charges, or exclusions being hidden in the small print. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but if not then…

Free tool if you're having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with it to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will escalate it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com as that's usually quicker.