Breakdown cover will protect you from having to pay hundreds of pounds when your car becomes disabled while you're out driving. In some cases, this cover may also extend to your car whilst it is in your driveway or parked outside your home. Automatic service will allow you to avoid fees such as towing costs, car for hire, or even hotel charges when you're away from home. Pay and claim service asks you to pay up front and then offers reimbursement. In both cases, you should pay attention to whether you are covering a person or a vehicle. Each option has its benefits and potential pitfalls.
Covering a Car
When you cover a car with breakdown insurance, every trip that car makes is included in your coverage. You may be asked to list the drivers in your home, and whenever that particular vehicle breaks down with an approved driver it is eligible for a claim. In some cases, it may be covered no matter who is driving. This type of coverage is often less expensive than covering a person. If you rarely switch vehicles, then covering your car should be ample insurance to ensure that you're never stranded without breakdown cover.
Covering a Person
You can also choose to cover a person. With this type of breakdown insurance, you are covering yourself as a driver. This cover allows you to remain within coverage even when you drive a friend's car, use a car for hire, or switch vehicles with your spouse. This type of breakdown cover even applies when you're a passenger in someone else's car. Basically, any time you are in any vehicle that is disabled, you are able to enjoy your insurance perks. When you merely cover your car, you are unable to call for assistance if you happen to be the passenger in another vehicle or you swap cars with a friend for the day and have engine trouble.
Because covering a person is more comprehensive, this type of cover is usually more expensive than covering a car. Each insurance company defines its own policy guidelines and prices, but in general you can expect to pay a bit more if you want to cover a driver. That being said, if you frequently find yourself driving different cars for work or have multiple vehicles in your family -- the extra cost is worth considering. Bear in mind that breakdown cover is relatively inexpensive, so even a slight increase isn't bound to make major dent in your yearly budget.
If you only cover yourself as a driver, remember to add a breakdown cover policy for your spouse. If you are the only one covered, anytime your spouse has car issues when you're not together he won't be able to call for assistance. The alternative is to cover each of the cars in your household. Both types of breakdown cover have certain exclusions. Namely, you are likely to be excluded from claiming on the policy if you fail to have a spare tire in your vehicle when you get a flat, file too many claims within a short period of time, or try to file a claim within a day of purchasing your policy. Some policies may also require you to be a minimum distance from your home address in order to call for help. In theory, if you break down just around the corner from your home, you could walk home and the costs the insurance will absorb for a tow aren't worth it to them.
Breakdown cover is generally thought to cover a vehicle. As a result, many people may not realize they can also cover themselves. Always read a plan carefully before you purchase cover. If you think you are covering a person but are instead covering a car, or vice versa, you may be in for a rude surprise when you need help the most. If you already have car insurance with a particular company, consider using the same supplier for breakdown cover. You can often get a discount on your insurance for carrying both policies with the same company -- if a discount is offered, ask for it.