It might be tempting to go for the cheapest option, but it’s far better to get the right level of cover for your needs – even if that means buying the best breakdown cover you can find. Here’s what roadside assistance can do for you. And what to consider when shopping around for car breakdown cover.

The single most important reason we buy breakdown cover is so that we’ll be rescued if our car lets us down on the road. If we get a flat tyre or something goes wrong under the bonnet, none of us wants to be standing on a busy roadside any longer than we have to. There are things we can all do to help keep our vehicles roadworthy and safe, including:

  • Getting your car serviced in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Topping up low oil and water levels regularly
  • Checking tyre treads and pressures
  • Replacing worn wiper blades and keeping windows and lights clean.

But even the most dedicated car tinkerer might still have to deal with an unexpected malfunction or a flat battery on a bitterly cold and wet morning. Breaking down during a journey might be the main thing we want to be prepared for, but there’s a lot more reassurance to having car breakdown assistance.

Different types of car breakdown cover

You can take out breakdown cover as a standalone policy with a well-known provider such as the RAC, the AA or Green Flag; you might have it as an option through your bank account or with your car manufacturer; or you can buy it as an add-on to your motor insurance. The cover you get as an extra with your car insurance is often provided by one of the big three companies above, so you can ask before you buy.

What’s included in each breakdown cover level can vary from one provider to another, so bear this in mind when you’re comparing products. Make sure you’re buying all the cover you need. And don’t assume you’re covered for breakdowns at home without checking with the provider.

  • Roadside assistance means your car will either be fixed where it’s broken down (say, if you’ve had a puncture) or towed to the closest garage (for bigger problems or faults that need further investigation). This usually covers you for breakdowns that happen more than a quarter of a mile from your home.
  • Home cover is for car problems on your doorstep. If your car won’t start or conks out within a few moments of you driving away from your house, you’ll need to have home cover to get assistance.
  • National recovery means if the assistance service can’t get you going again at the roadside, you, your passengers and your car will be taken home, to your original destination or to your chosen repairer anywhere in the UK.

The best value breakdown cover

When we talk about getting the best value cover, we don’t mean the cheapest breakdown cover. For those of us who like to keep risks and unexpected events to a minimum, we’re looking for a high level of protection at a competitive price.

If your vehicle breaks down, one thing’s for sure: it pays to have breakdown cover in place rather than having to find help by alternative – and potentially costly – means in what could already be a very stressful situation.

And you might not want to limit your cover to breakdowns when you’re out and about either. Data from a Which? survey in 2021 shows that 47% of car breakdowns happen at home. So, if you don’t want to take any chances, then home cover – which includes breakdowns within a quarter of a mile of your house – is a must.

Check what you’re covered for

There are many providers on the market and they don’t all offer cover levels in the same way, so make sure you understand exactly what’s included before you buy. If you’ve already got car breakdown assistance, does it actually cover everything you think it does?

If you have Saga Breakdown Assistance, you’ll be on one of our five levels of cover, three of which – Home Call, Comprehensive and Premier – include repairs at home.

If you’re on Essential or National Recovery, breakdowns are only covered when you’re more than a quarter of a mile from your home address.

Our best breakdown cover level, Premier, also includes roadside assistance and breakdown recovery in 55 European countries and territories. You should always check you have adequate cover before taking your car overseas.

We’ve chosen the RAC for our customers’ breakdown assistance. It provides reliable UK-wide breakdown cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You can see at a glance how our cover levels compare and then call us to change or upgrade your cover level or add Saga Breakdown Assistance to your Saga Car Insurance policy, if you have one. Please note you can't upgrade your breakdown cover or add it to your policy and claim on it if you have already broken down, so now's the time to make sure you have all the protection you need. Just call us on 0800 656 9915 Monday to Friday 8.30am-8pm, Saturday 8.30am-5pm or Sunday 9am-5pm. For people over 50.