As part of this year's Which? car survey, we quizzed over 50,000 motorists on their experiences with car breakdown cover. After crunching the numbers, we discovered that nearly half of recorded breakdowns, a hefty 47%, happen right on your doorstep.
With that eyebrow-raising stat in mind, you might be considering a car breakdown plan that has you covered at home. Choosing the right package means you'll be treated to a reliable service that doesn't take an age to reach you. However, we've also heard from unlucky drivers that have been forced to wait over 2 hours for assistance, which simply isn't good enough.
Below, we take a closer look at how home cover works, how to find out if you're already covered and, crucially, what to do if you're not.
The results of the latest Which? car survey show that most breakdowns happen at home. Sadly, breakdown providers are well aware of this, which is why they usually charge extra if your car won't start at home. If you're paying for at-home breakdown cover, you'll be able to call for assistance without that additional charge.
Major breakdown cover providers have different names for their at-home plans. For example, AA refers to it as Home Start, while Green Flag simply calls it 'Cover at home'. When shopping around, note that not every plan will include assistance at a home address - Green Flag's standard Rescue plan doesn't tick this box, but its Rescue Plus plan does.
Most new cars are sold with some form of breakdown cover included, although the length of cover (and what it offers) varies depending on the manufacturer. Usually, manufacturer cover lasts for between one and three years.
Considering the majority of vehicle breakdowns take place at home, investing in a plan that covers this isn't a bad idea. As part of our survey, we spoke to around 3,000 drivers who had dealt with a breakdown at home.
The results of our survey also show that a third of people with breakdown cover don't have a policy that includes home assistance. If you've purchased your breakdown provider's cheapest package, at-home cover might not be included.
As you can see from our graphic, far more vehicle breakdowns take place at home compared to in town or in rural areas. Only 12% of respondents said they had experienced a problem on the motorway or dual carriageway.
If your vehicle decides to cause problems at home and you aren't covered by your current plan, you'll either need to pay a call-out fee or add home cover right away. Our pricing research shows that, in some cases, you could be expected to cough up £100 on the spot for this.
If your current breakdown policy is set to auto-renew, you might want to change that - it rarely pays to stay loyal to one provider, and shopping around can save you a tidy sum.
To help you compare costs, we've rounded up details for 12 third-party breakdown cover providers.
|Annual cost: roadside assistance||Annual cost: roadside assistance and home cover||Annual cost: roadside assistance, home cover and national recovery||Provided by|
|AXA (a)||£19.99||N/A (b)||£56.99||AXA|
|Start Rescue||£19.75||N/A (b)||£30.80||Call Assist|
|LV Britannia Rescue||£30||£63||£99||LV Britannia Rescue|
|Autoaid Breakdown||N/A||N/A||£59.99 (c,d,e)||Call Assist|
|GEM Motoring Assist||N/A||N/A||£96.66 (c,e,f)||Call Assist|
In terms of policies that include at-home cover as standard (with annual payment), Start Rescue 3 Star is the cheapest option at £30.80. This plan also includes national recovery, which includes a tow to any UK destination if you break down.
Buyers on a budget might also consider Green Flag at £38.08, or Allianz Assistance Silver at £52 per year.
Once you start looking around for a new car breakdown policy, you need to think about more than price. Have a read through each company's terms and look out for these key features: