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Classic Car Breakdown Cover Explained

Classic Car Breakdown Cover best buys and breakdown companies most recommended by our readers

No matter how careful you are as an owner – or how meticulous your classic car maintenance is – you always need to ensure you have adequate protection should the worst happen and your classic lets you down.

Even the most looked-after classic car can have the occasional blip in its reliability record; so whilst many hands-on owners are able to fix basic faults at the roadside, it’s important that there’s extra back-up available when you need it. And that means making sure you have breakdown cover that suits your particular needs.

Types of classic car breakdown cover

You may find that your classic car insurance policy includes some kind of breakdown assistance, and this can often be a cost-effective way of gaining peace of mind. But it’s important that you check the small print, particularly when your policy us due for renewal. Does it, for example, still provide a recovery facility or does it offer just roadside help? And assuming it does include recovery, is there unlimited mileage allowed for this, or will your car simply be dispatched to the nearest garage?

Keeping your breakdown cover separate from your insurance can work better for many people, particularly those running a combination of modern and classic vehicles. Rather than having each car covered on separate breakdown policies, they often prefer to take out personal cover that applies when they’re driving any vehicle – even one not owned by them. Add on a small extra fee (sometimes around the £20 mark) to include their spouse or partner and they’ve got a policy that covers most potential breakdown situations.

Best current deals on classic car breakdown cover

Provider

Cover

Cost

What do you get?

AA* National Recovery £115 Roadside assistance, national recovery and At Home service, plus unlimited call outs. Not the cheapest, but the AA has the largest patrol fleet in the UK.
AutoAid* Breakdown £43.31

This deal covers you and your spouse with roadside and home assistance, recovery to any UK destination, emergency travel and overnight accommodation. It also provides for caravans and trailers, vandalism and theft.

Autonational Rescue* Total Superservice £73

Total Superservice lives up to its name with nationwide and European cover, as well as home start, onward travel and emergency accommodation. It also includes loss of keys, theft and vandalism, caravan and trailer plus 50 percent discount for a second vehicle.

Emergency Assist* Saver Cover  £19 By far the cheapest we've seen, it's described as being aimed at the 'occassional' motorist. It includes local recovery (up to 25 miles) and roadside assistance. 
GEM Motoring Assist* Recovery Extra  £96.66 As well as roadside and home assistance, plus nationwide recovery, this comes with Onward Travel if your car breaks down more than 25 miles from home.  Adding a second person to the policy costs £27.
Green Flag Recovery Plus  £60 The usual roadside, home and national assistance is included, plus unlimited call-outs and free mis-fuelling protection. There’s also Onward Travel if the car cannot be fixed at the roadside.
Halfords Breakdown Cover Nationwide £26

One of the most affordable nationwide schemes around. it includes recovery up to 10 miles, alternative transport, emergency overnight accommodation, lost or damaged key assist and cycle cover. Quotes do vary depending on the age of your vehicle.

Insure4Breakdown* Violet European Annual £79.99

This deal offers up to 90 days of driving in Europe on as many trips as you like. It also comes with full UK recovery and applies to all cars up to 10-years old.

LV= Britannia Rescue Roadside Assist £30 Roadside assistance when you're away from home with a local recovery if they can't fix your vehicle.
MotorEasy* Nationwide Recovery £34.27

As well as roadside assistance beyond one mile of your home address and recovery to any chosen destination across the UK, this also includes alternative transport, emergency overnight accommodation, key recovery, misfuel assist and driver illness or injury cover.

RAC* Roadside Recovery £40 This is no-frills cover should your car come to a halt more than a quarter of a mile from home. It includes a 10-mile tow to a destination of your choice. There's a large network coverage of RAC patrols.
Start Rescue* Three Star £37.65

As well as help at home and nationwide, this cover comes with overnight accommodation, alternative transport, free legal expenses and key assist. It also has Message Assist to relay information to friends or family if your mobile phone has run out of battery. Adding cover for Europe is only an extra £26

Best Car Breakdown Companies 2019

Below are the best car breakdown companies, according to our readers?

We collected almost 7,500 of your experiences from breakdowns, whether they were a provider you chose yourself or manufacturer-supplied cover, and your ratings included not only the quality of the service provided but also value for money.

Thanks to your input we have ratings on 35 breakdown providers, with the top ten independent providers all scoring over 8.1 out of 10 and even the lowest-rated breakdown service provider scoring more than 7.1 out of 10.

1. GEM Motoring Assist Gem

Breakdown Cover Satisfaction Score 8.74

Placed first in our ranking table, even if by a small margin, was GEM Motoring Assist, with a score of 8.74 from 141 responses. GEM policies offer personal cover so there is assistance available in any of your vehicles or if you are driving a hired or borrowed vehicle, and there are membership benefits such as discounted motor and travel insurance too. 

How much does Breakdown Cover cost with GEM?

GEM's cover is fullly comprehensive (aside from European Cover), with costs varying for the number of people that are included on the policy

Number of People Price
Single  £96.66*
Two people £129.21
Three People £184.69*
Four People £184.69*

2. Rescue My Car Rescue -my -car -logo

Breakdown Cover Satisfaction Score 8.68

Finishing just a whisker behind the first placed GEM Motoring Assist, Rescue My Car scored an impressive 8.68 out of 10 from 25 respondents. Although this is a relatively low number Rescue My Car is one of the newer breakdown providers and will likely be scored by more users in the next poll. Rescue My Car gives the option of four different levels of cover including some with an excess, helping to keep the cost low unless you really need to use it. 

How much does Breakdown Cover cost with Rescue My Car?

Recovery Type Price
Local recovery with excess  £16*
National & home breakdown cover with excess  £19.99*
National & home breakdown cover wihtout excess  £31.85*
European breakdown cover £35.27*

3. Britannia Dj B9ily X0AASVB8

Breakdown Cover Satisfaction Score 8.64

Britannia Rescue is part of the LV insurance group, so it is no surprise to see it ranked so highly in this list. Ranked third overall based on 239 responses, Britannia scored 10 out of 10 with a large number of users. Anyone with an LV car insurance policy can add Britannia breakdown cover easily, with five levels of cover available. Britannia also claims an impressive average response time of 47.90 minutes to callouts.

How much does Breakdown Cover cost with Britannia?

Recovery Type  Cost
Roadside Assist  £30
Roadside & Home Assist  £61
UK Recovery £67
UK Recovery & Home Assist  £93
UK & European Assist £134

4. Auto AidAuto Aid Logo _thumb

Breakdown Cover Satisfaction Score 8.61

Auto Aid is part of a group of companies including Auto National Rescue and Euro Rescue all owned by Right Choice Insurance Brokers, but its strong showing here is based only on customers of Auto Aid. Its impressive score of 8.61 is based on 198 respondents, putting it in fourth place. Auto Aid's policies are based on covering an individual rather than a car but your spouse is automatically included at no extra cost.

How much does Breakdown Cover cost with Auto Aid?

Recovery Type Price
Roadside Only £34*
Roadside & Recovery  £66*
Total UK £78*

5. Start RescueStart -rescue -jpg -1

Breakdown Cover Satisfaction Score 8.60

Start Rescue is one of the newer breakdown cover providers in the market, operating through Call Assist Ltd and recording an impressive score of 8.60 out of 10 based on 126 respondents. Start Rescue offers five levels of cover with prices starting from £16.45 for local roadside cover, making it a popular choice for anyone looking to keep costs as low as possible.

How much does Breakdown Cover cost with Start Rescue?

Recovery Type Price
Roadside assistance, local recovery £26.90*
Roadside assistance, national recovery and home start £28.95*
European roadside assistance in 42 countries £68.95*
Four cars, roadside assistance, national recovery, home start  £106.52*

6. Nationwide Download (5)

Breakdown Cover Satisfaction Score 8.57

This breakdown cover is offered by Nationwide Building Society as a part of its FlexPlus current account, so it is not available to those who are not customers. However, it received a rating of 8.57 out of 10 from 198 respondents, indicating a good level of service as well as impressive value for money. Because the breakdown cover is provided in a bundle of insurance products, the effective cost is currently £13 per month if you have a FlexPlus current account.

7. AA Logo -aa (3)

Breakdown Cover Satisfaction Score 8.33

The first of the breakdown giants, the AA finished in a respectable seventh place, scoring 8.33 out of 10 from 1451 users to make it the provider receiving the greatest number of responses in our index. Thanks to a strong reputation the AA has tradtionally been one of the most popular breakdown cover providers, but has increased its range of products to compete with newer rivals. Three types of cover are available with monthly or one-off annual payment plans.

How much does Breakdown Cover cost with The AA?

Recovery Type Price
Roadside assistance, national recovery and home start  £89*
Roadside assistance, national recovery, home start and onward travel  £125*
Roadside assistance in 44 European countries £125*
Four cars, roadside assistance, national recovery, home start £209*

 

9. RAC Download (5) (1)

Breakdown Cover Satisfaction Score 8.19

Completing the big three breakdown providers is RAC in ninth place, scoring 8.19 out of 10 based on 1,345 respondents which puts it just fractions behind its key competitors. The RAC offers a choice of personal breakdown cover or vehicle breakdown cover, and builds a price depending on the options you add in, with the cheapest form of vehicle cover costing £40 for 12 months.

How much does Breakdown Cover cost with the RAC?

Recovery Type Price
Roadside assistance, national recovery and home start £40*
Roadside assistance, national recovery, home start and onward travel £124*
Roadside assistance in 48 countries £125.18*

8. Green Flag 0ay 0QFH1_400x 400

Breakdown Cover Satisfaction Score 8.24

Close behind the AA in eighth place is Green Flag, another of the better-known breakdown cover providers. Rated 8.24 out of 10 by 1081 respondents, Green Flag received the second-largest number of ratings in our survey, proving its popularity. Green Flag offers a choice of cover policies specifically for your cars or you as an individual, with a tailored quote based on your circumstances. Unlike its main rivals, Green Flag uses a network of independent providers rather than branded vehicles and mechanics.

How much does cover cost with Green Flag?

Recovery Type Price
Roadside assistance, national recovery £39
Roadside assistance, national recovery and home start £35.84
Roadside assistance, national recovery, home start and onward travel £44.80
Roadside assistance in 39 European countries £71.68

10. AXA 2000px -AXA_Logo .svg

Breakdown Cover Satisfaction Score 8.11

Rounding out the top ten is AXA, who offer breakdown cover as a part of their comprehensive car insurance policies with four levels of cover including European coverage. As one of the newer providers its score of 8.11 was based on less than 50 respondents, but bodes well for anyone who currently has an insurance policy with the firm.

Whether you go for breakdown protection that covers you or simply your one car, it’s vital that the policy suits your needs. Some of the more basic policies, for example, won’t offer you roadside assistance if you’re within a quarter of a mile of home, so check you’re covered for home-based breakdowns if that’s what you need. And, of course, you should again look for any limitations when it comes to recovery, as there can be limits as to how far your car will be transported.

It’s also worth enquiring about help with onward travel, which usually offers a hotel room and car hire if your vehicle can’t be repaired, with your car transported to a garage of your choice as part of the deal. If you tend to use your classic for holidays or long excursions, onward travel cover is well worth considering; and if you’re one of the increasing number of classic car owners now venturing abroad with their vehicles, it’s important to ensure your breakdown policy includes comprehensive European cover.

Finally, don’t forget to shop around every time your breakdown cover is due for renewal, as many companies offer more favourable rates to new customers than for existing clients. It’s annoying but it’s true; and so changing your provider each year (or asking your existing provider to ‘price match’ other quotes) could save you a significant sum in the long term.

Do I need European breakdown cover for my classic car?

If you’re planning on driving your classic abroad, then chances are you’ll need to buy some European breakdown cover. While quite a few classic insurers offer cover when driving abroad, making sure you’re looked after isn’t normally included.

How much does European breakdown cover for a classic car cost?

Most insurers don’t charge any more than £50, for which you should be covered for the year. For example, Hegarty’s European breakdown cover costs £34.90 and covers you for multiple trips up to 90 days.

What does European breakdown cover include?

Every supplier is different, but there are few key things you’ll want to check. At the very least, you’ll want to make sure you have access to the service 24/7 all year round. English-speaking advisors is also a must.

What happens if my classic breaks down in Europe?

If the worst happens and your classic breaks down, you could be in a tight spot. If your can’t be fixed by the side of the road it’ll need moving. Some breakdown cover will just take you to the local garage (a loose definition which could include a tyre fitting centre with very basic facilities). You’ll need to check to make sure that you’ll be recovered to a suitable garage or specialist.

Do I get a courtesy car?

If you need parts for your car, then you may well have the option to take advantage of a courtesy car. You’ll need to check that this is big enough to take you, your passengers and any luggage. You’ll also want to check for hidden charges such as insurance cover or mileage restrictions.

What about accommodation?

If you can’t continue your journey without your classic, then you’ll need to find out if you cover includes suitable accommodation and transport to and from the repair shop.

What if my car can’t be fixed?

If your car can’t be fixed (believe us, it happens) then you’ll need to make sure your cover includes repatriation. Be sure to ask about timescales as in our experience this often takes longer than expected. You’ll also need to find out where it goes once it arrives in the UK. Is it stored somewhere? Is it returned to you? Or can you ask for it to be delivered to your chose specialist?

What countries are covered by European breakdown cover?

Every provider is different, but most should cover:

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Estonia
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Republic of Ireland
  • San Marino
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Slovakia
  • Hungary
  • Slovenia
  • Malta
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Also included: The Vatican City, any islands that belong to these countries, that are in Europe.

European breakdown cover essentials for classic car owner

Before you go, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got all the necessary contact details and a working mobile phone that you can use abroad.

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