Does car insurance cover towing?

Compare car insurance policies that include free towing and roadside support.

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Getting your car towed after a breakdown can be a major hassle, and an expensive one too. Particularly if you have basic car insurance. In this guide we look at what different levels of cover will give you, and how much they’ll cost.

Sure, some insurers might arrange to drive you home, but you might have to pay a shed load for this literal extra mile. Some people might think they have a friend who can tow their car and don’t need any extra insurance at all.

Whatever the case, we weigh up the different options.

Does car insurance cover towing?

Not always. You’ll need to have breakdown cover included as part of your deal, or you can buy an additional breakdown assistance insurance policy on the side of your basic car insurance.

If not, then you’ll have to make a call at the roadside. Either to a local garage, who could well charge you for this, or to a breakdown insurance company. Many let you sign up retrospectively for cover, but they’ll hit you with a hefty one off price.

What’s included in towing services with car insurance?

With a basic level of breakdown cover a mechanic will come and try to fix your car at the roadside. If this isn’t possible though, the repair person will at the very least arrange a tow to the nearest garage to your location.

However, with more comprehensive plans you’ll get far more benefits. Some will look after you with onward travel cover, which may pay for the cost of a hire car or foot the bill for an emergency hotel stay if you’re far from home.

Basic plans might only help you if you’re broken down a certain distance from home, a quarter of a mile say.

More expensive policies will send a fixer even if your car is just broken down at home. Plus it might protect you as a driver, rather than just your main car.

This could come in handy if you’re driving a family member’s vehicle.

When can I use roadside assistance services?

If your car gives up while on the road in the UK then you can put a call in to your roadside assistance provider.

All the major companies offer 24/7 cover, so no matter whether it’s a spring afternoon or one in the morning in the depths of winter, someone will come to your aid. Many also offer more comprehensive policies which offer round the clock roadside assistance in Europe too – so if you’re planning a trip to the continent this might save you a stressful situation. Imagine trying to call a local garage in a language you can’t speak?

How much will roadside assistance cost?

Of course it depends on what level of cover you want. With a basic level of breakdown coverage you can expect to spend around £40. This will give you a tow to a local garage and will help fix your car if you’re a certain distance from your home, more than a quarter of a mile say.

However, there are deals and ways to get cashback online, so you might be able to slash the prices even further. With a more comprehensive package you can expect to spend around £60. This will give you added benefits like onward travel.

Should I pay for roadside assistance coverage?

Breakdown cover can give you peace of mind, meanwhile it’s worth taking into account the cost of a single tow is often much more than getting insurance for the year. However you don’t need it. Here are a few factors to think about that might help make up your mind:

  • Commute distance. If you have a lengthy commute, roadside assistance could be helpful if you need a tow from the side of a motorway.
  • Your vehicle’s age. Older vehicles are more likely to lose power and towing is expensive. Breakdown cover might save you money in the long run.
  • Any previous damage. Should your vehicle have a history of mechanical faults then roadside assistance might give you some peace of mind, and save you a few quid if you do break down too.
  • Help from friends and family. If you have someone in your area that could give you a lift home or even help tow your car to the local garage, you might not need to pay for roadside assistance.

Frequently asked questions

Finder survey: Do you know everything that car insurance covers?

Response
No57.27%
Yes42.73%
Source: Finder survey by Censuswide of Brits, December 2023
*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (June ’23). 51% of car insurance customers could save £488.46

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