Vehicle insurance or breakdown cover: what covers what

picture showing the back of a line of parked cars

We talk about breakdown cover a lot, it’s our bread and butter. But sometimes it can be confused with vehicle insurance – something you legally need to drive in the UK.

Breakdown cover is a form of insurance for your vehicle. But, it isn’t vehicle insurance. Nice and confusing, we know.

So, to simplify things a bit, let’s break down what vehicle insurance actually is (and how it’s different from breakdown cover).

What is vehicle insurance?

Vehicle insurance, sometimes called motor or car insurance, is a legal requirement in the UK. If you don’t have it, you could receive fines, have your vehicle impounded, or even face court prosecution with fines up to £1000.

You can avoid this by having third party insurance, which is the legal minimum level of cover. This’ll cover you for any accidents causing damage or injury to another person, vehicle, animal, or property.

With higher levels of cover, you can use your insurance to help with costs for repairs and maintenance. This all depends on your provider and what your insurance policy covers you for.

When do I need it?

All the time.

Well, unless your car is registered as off the road (SORN). You can find out more about that here.

But otherwise, if a vehicle is registered in your name, it’s your responsibility to get it insured. Even if you’re not the primary driver.

If you’re unsure if your vehicle is insured, you can check here.

How is vehicle insurance different to breakdown cover?

Vehicle insurance means you won’t have to pay huge, upfront fees or payouts if you get into an accident. It means you can spread out the cost and prepare for any repairs you may need. Oh, and it allows you to drive on the road legally, which is pretty important.

Breakdown cover isn’t a legal requirement, it’s more of a useful, emergency service. It means if you break down, you can get expert help as quickly as possible, and often without paying a callout fee (depending on the provider). A technician can come to help you at the roadside or take you to a garage.

If you need any repairs after you break down, that’s where your insurance kicks in to cover repair costs. Breakdown cover gets you to the garage, vehicle insurance helps cover the cost of getting an issue fixed.

How can I get vehicle insurance?

There are plenty of providers to choose from. It’s important to think about what level of cover you need, where you’ll need it, and your driving history. Previous incidents or claims can raise your premium.

It’s best to compare your options to find the right cover for you. You can find out about Which recommended providers here.

That’s everything covered.

Along with an up-to-date MOT and vehicle tax, your vehicle insurance is legally required for driving in the UK. We wrote about MOTs in a recent blog here. And for info on vehicle tax, you can head to another blog here.

These are must-haves for UK drivers, so make sure you’ve got them all. And once you have, get some peace of mind with breakdown cover – you can check out our cover here.

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