Updated October 2015
If you're comparing breakdown cover, sometimes it can pay to shop around.
If you're thinking of buying breakdown cover, make sure you choose a policy that meets your needs. Think about how often you use your car, and the distances you tend to drive, then compare the benefits of each provider.
While price is an important factor, cheap breakdown cover is not always the answer. Reliability, coverage, number of patrols on the road and how equipped a company is to deal with a variety of situations should all play parts in your decision making.
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Don't be tempted to scrimp on cover if you rely heavily on your car otherwise it can be false economy. For example, some providers will outsource to garages to provide breakdown services, while others may not be able to rescue you in extreme weathers. So if you depend on your car, the provider is crucial.
The AA is lucky enough to have the largest patrol force in the UK; we plough a large amount of time and money into finding new ways to help you out of tricky situations, such as the deep snow and flooding in recent years.
That's why 'Which?' readers have voted us their recommended provider for the tenth year running.
If you don't want to compromise on the provider, there are other ways to keep the costs down. You can do this by choosing and paying only for the cover you need. Ask yourself what you use the car for.
1. Do you need cover for one car?
One-car families should consider vehicle cover. It can work out cheaper, because this breakdown cover is for the car rather than for you. If there is only one driver in your household then it can work out even cheaper, because you can buy very specific cover for you in that particular car.
However of there are a number of drivers in your household, then, for a few pounds more, a policy that covers anyone who drives the car may suit you better.
Do you travel long distances?
If yes, then recovery may be the best option. We find that most customers who choose this cover have broken down 26 miles from home, on average. Roadside cover gives you a tow you to a local garage. So, it's handy to know you can be towed all the way home in that situation.
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It's handy to know you can be towed all the way
Do you depend on the car?
Ask yourself what you'd do if the car was out of action because it needed heavy-duty repairs. Our patrols are well-equipped and are able to fix four out of every five cars. But sometimes the car may need parts or really serious garage repairs.
We can often supply those parts, fix the car or diagnose and help liaise with the garage. But, either way, the parts will cost extra and the garage will charge you for additional work. This may not always be work you've budgeted for. Look out for cover for breakdown repairs. This will help towards the cost of parts and additional garage work.
What will you do if the car is out of action?
You may rely heavily on it to get to work or take children to school or because you live in a remote area. If you depend on your car, for a little extra you can choose options such as hire car or public transport costs if your car can't be fixed there and then.
While we're on the subject of dependence: if you need the car for your commute or to ferry a young family around, then what would you do if the car broke down on the drive way? 'Roadside' means exactly that - assistance while you're on the road. But it won't cover you if you're within a quarter of a mile of your house. So cover at home may be something to consider.