Breakdown Cover.

Breakdown Cover

In contrast to compulsory insurance, breakdown raises few temperatures. Yet the majority of us buy it for peace of mind.

What is Breakdown Cover?

An insurance contract against certain contingencies- often sold as part of your insurance package-but different contract terms apply.

What is Covered?

Whilst the full terms of cover depend on the individual contract (and level of premium), inevitably there will be basic roadside help in a geographically defined area (such as the UK mainland). Examples of “extras” may include a combination of the following:-

  • Home start
  • European Cover
  • Replacement Vehicle
  • Overnight accommodation
  • Etc

Is Cover Personal or Linked to your specific vehicle?

It is important to appreciate whether membership is “personal” to the individual (&/or members of the family)-and therefore any specified type of vehicle being driven at the time. Alternatively, is it limited to a specified vehicle? A further quirk is whether it is just a vehicle or whether it covers a trailer?

Key Facts

A summary of the cover in plain English is required by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).  But in the event of doubt, the strict wording of the policy prevails.

It is vital you read and understand the terms.

Utmost Good Faith

As with all insurance, it is incumbent on you to disclose anything that weighs in the minds of the breakdown company in deciding whether to cover you. For example, if your machine has had long history of regular and consistent breakdown, then you may find getting breakdown cover rather difficult.

General Policy Exclusions

The following are just some of the usual exclusions:-

  • excessive or unreasonable use of the breakdown service
  • cost of parts supplied
  • out of pocket expenses eg moving the vehicle
  • commercial or sports use of the bike
  • claims resulting from speed, alcohol or drugs incidents


There will inevitably be a 14 day “cooling off” period required by the FSA. If you cancel within this period, then you will receive a full refund for any monies paid. Cancellation by you outside this period will often be eligible for a refund. But read the policy carefully on this point.

Notification of Changes

If, for example, you change your bike, then notification will be required if cover is non personal and specific vehicle related (see above).

Change to Level of Cover

Increasing the level of your breakdown cover is usually no problem during the validity of your policy (apart from paying any increased premium). Decreasing the level and expecting a refund may not be possible. As usual, read the terms!


Check carefully whether you pay for “extras” when reporting  any changes (for example). These may be called such things as  ”administration” charges but are a way of extracting more cash from you.  They are particularly relevant to keenly priced products.

Breakdown and Accidents Distinguished

If the reason for your roadside dilemma is an accident (rather than pure mechanical failure), there may be an argument whether your accident or breakdown insurer helps.  It all depends on the terms of your contract with each.  It is therefore important to carry contact details of everyone.

Carry Your Documents

Carrying a full set of documents can often save a lot of inconvenience.  Probably better to carry a photocopied set in a waterproof pack.

  • Driving Licence
  • MOT
  • Insurance Certificate
  • A summary of what you are covered for
  • Contact details of your insurance and breakdown insurers + next of kin and friends to be notified etc
  • Any personal medical peculiarities (for the benefit of treatment

Personal Safety (with apologies if this seems condescending but in emergencies people sometimes forget)

  • Make sure your bike is moved to a safe place to avoid road users
  • Don’t cross a busy carriageway
  • Place yourself in a safe position whilst waiting for help
  • Try to warn other road users of the hazard

This material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice.  You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions.  Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

More Help Needed?

Phil Shuker

MD Bikers Advice

Tel: 01706 227419


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