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Breakdown cover has evolved over the years to encompass more than simply an engineer coming out to fix your car on the roadside.

Nowadays, breakdown services can include more than one vehicle, person, and country. How much cover you need will depend on where you drive and if you want your policy to be based on the car or the driver – or multiple drivers.

Below, we explore the types of breakdown cover now available.

Different levels of cover

Breakdown services vary by levels of assistance and coverage.

Roadside assistance is the most basic breakdown cover. It specifies that if your car breaks down at a certain distance from your home (usually at least a quarter of a mile), the engineer will come to your location and attempt to fix the problem. If they can’t fix the issue, your car will be towed to the nearest garage.

Local recovery includes all the benefits of roadside assistance – but gives you the additional option of having your vehicle taken to a local garage of your choice instead of the nearest one. This may be useful to you if you want to ensure your vehicle is within easy reach.

Home start is a recovery service that lets you call out a mechanic even if your vehicle breaks down at your home. For many, this is an invaluable benefit as you can call for help when you’re unable to move your car.

National or international cover

National recovery means that you can call for breakdown assistance anywhere in the country. Wherever you are, you’re still covered, and your car can still be transported to a garage close to your home.

European breakdown cover is essential if you drive frequently in Europe. This not only extends your breakdown cover to European countries, you can also include a service to repatriate your vehicle if it can’t be repaired abroad.

Additional services you may need

Onward travel cover is a handy extra if you want to ensure you have alternative transportation or accommodation if your car can’t be repaired quickly. You should check exactly what your provider means by onward travel cover – as it can range from the cost of a rental car to reimbursing you for public transport costs. It might include paying for a hotel stay while your car’s being fixed.

Another additional service is vehicle-specific cover. This is if you want your breakdown cover specifically for your type of vehicle – this might be a motorhome, van, electric car or motorbike. This sort of policy can include specialised services for those vehicles.

Personal, joint or family cover

Personal breakdown cover applies to the individual, so it doesn’t matter what vehicle you drive. This is useful if you often switch between vehicles or are frequently a passenger in someone else's car.

An alternative to personal breakdown cover is joint or family cover. This can cover you and a partner or your whole family. Again, it’s based on the person, not the vehicle. It’s a handy and cheaper option if you have multiple vehicles used by different members of the family.

Do you need a friendly local garage you can rely on?

Foster & Heanes offers MOTs, car servicing, maintenance and repair for all makes and models of vehicles, including classic and vintage cars. Free collection and delivery can be arranged if you live near our Fleet or Dogmersfield service centres.  To book your car in for an MOT, service or repair, please call 01252 615657.


Chatter Alley 
RG27 8SS

Hesters Garage

Upper Street
GU51 3PE


St James Road
GU51 3QH

VW Autos

St James Road
GU51 3QH