Personal breakdown cover

Find out what personal breakdown cover is, how it differs from vehicle breakdown cover and what's included in the policy.

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What is personal breakdown cover?

Personal breakdown cover is breakdown insurance that is attached to a person, not a specific car.

This means that a driver with personal breakdown insurance can drive any car and still be covered if it breaks down.

What does personal breakdown cover include?

Personal breakdown insurance often has the same features as vehicle breakdown – it’s just that the cover applies to a person instead of a car.

You can add personal car breakdown cover to an existing breakdown policy so that you’re covered to drive your own car, but also have cover when driving or riding as a passenger in other people’s cars.

Policy specs will vary by provider, but usually include the following options:

  • Roadside assistance. This is the most basic form of breakdown cover and should be included within all breakdown policies. Roadside assistance ensures that if your car breaks down further than a quarter of a mile from your home, someone will be sent to assist you on the road. If your car cannot be fixed on the roadside, it will typically be towed to a nearby garage.
  • National recovery. Also known as vehicle recovery, this type of cover is the level up from roadside assistance. National recovery means that, if your car can’t be fixed on the roadside, it can be towed to any location of your choice within the UK.
  • Home start. This provides you with cover should your vehicle break down at home or very near to it (usually within a quarter of a mile to a mile radius of your home). Home start cover is sometimes called at-home recovery or at-home breakdown.
  • European cover. As the name suggests, this type of cover protects you on the roads when you’re driving in Europe.
  • Onward travel. If your car can’t be fixed on the side of the road, having onward travel cover means that you will be offered a way to continue your journey. Some companies offer to reimburse you for public transport costs, pay for an overnight hotel stay or offer a replacement car hire while yours is being repaired.

What doesn’t it cover?

The cover is only valid if you are in the car when it breaks down, even if the car is registered to you.

Other exclusions will depend on the level of cover you choose.

For example, without national recovery, you won’t get the option to have your car towed anywhere in the UK. Without onward travel, you will have to make your own arrangements to continue your journey and won’t be reimbursed for the extra expense.

If you want to make sure you are covered for whatever happens, you can take out a comprehensive policy that contains all the elements above.

Should I choose personal or vehicle breakdown cover?

That depends on your circumstances.

If you regularly drive more than one vehicle and would like to be covered for all, then personal car breakdown cover is for you. It will also benefit you if you don’t have your own car, but regularly borrow one from a friend or family member.

If you just need breakdown insurance for your own car, vehicle breakdown cover will likely be a more economical option.

Can I add other people onto my personal breakdown cover policy?

Your personal breakdown cover is specific to you, but some insurers will let you add more people to the policy for an extra premium. Anyone you add has to live at the same address as the main policy holder.

How many people you can add and how much extra it will cost you will vary by provider.

Pros and cons for personal breakdown cover


  • Covers you for driving any car
  • Some policies include cover for vans and motorbikes
  • Covers you even as a passenger in someone else’s car


  • It’s usually more expensive than vehicle breakdown cover
  • Only applies if you are in the car

Frequently asked questions

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