What's the difference between personal and vehicle cover?

What's the difference between personal and vehicle cover?

Breakdown cover is an absolutely essential purchase for any driver. Hopefully it’s something you’ll never have to use, but you’ll be incredibly thankful you’ve got it if you do!

The two main types of breakdown cover are personal and vehicle, each of which come with a list of their own pros and cons.

It’s very important that you purchase the right kind of breakdown cover so we’ve compiled this guide to take you through the major differences between them. Then you’ll be able to see which is best suited to you.  

What is personal breakdown cover?

Personal breakdown cover is cover that’s assigned to a specific individual. No matter which vehicle you’re driving or are a passenger in, you’re always protected in the event of a breakdown. 

What is vehicle breakdown cover?

Vehicle breakdown cover is instead attached to a particular vehicle so anyone could be driving and you’ll still be able to call for assistance. 

What are the pros of personal breakdown cover?

  • You’re free to drive any vehicle
  • You’re covered whilst travelling as a passenger in any vehicle

If you drive more than one vehicle purchasing personal breakdown cover is definitely the best option. Whichever one you choose to drive, you can do so worry-free with the knowledge you’re fully protected and it’ll work out much cheaper than taking out lots of vehicle breakdown policies. 

It’s not essential to take out personal breakdown cover if you’re regularly a passenger in somebody else’s car, say you lift-share to work for example, but it’s always helpful and could prove invaluable if they don’t happen to have any. 

What are the cons of personal breakdown cover?

  • It’s only valid if the policyholder is travelling in the vehicle
  • Can more expensive than vehicle breakdown cover

Purchasing personal breakdown cover isn’t recommended if you share a car with somebody else. The named policyholder needs to be in the vehicle for it to be valid which obviously just isn’t feasible all of the time.  

It’s not always the case, but personal breakdown cover can be more expensive than vehicle breakdown cover. Be sure to shop around to find the best deal. 

What are the pros of vehicle breakdown cover?

  • Anyone can drive the vehicle and be protected
  • Cost effective option for those with one vehicle

Vehicle breakdown cover enables multiple people to share a car and them all be protected. It’s the perfect type of policy for a one-car household because it affords you lots of flexibility. Anyone can use it without a named policyholder always having to be present. 

If you only ever drive one car, taking out this kind of policy will generally work out cheaper than if you opt for personal breakdown cover.  

What are the cons of vehicle breakdown cover? 

  • Only one specific vehicle is protected
  • You’re not covered as a passenger in another vehicle

The biggest disadvantage of vehicle breakdown cover is that it’s only applicable to one vehicle. If you’re driving any other car and you encounter a problem, you won’t be able to call for assistance. 

It also takes away the convenience of being covered as a passenger in any vehicle, something which could definitely come in handy in certain situations.

What levels of breakdown cover are available?

You can customise your personal or vehicle breakdown policy by adding different levels of cover, the most common options you'll find on offer are:

  • Home start - Assistance will be sent if you break down at your home address or very close by. The distance you can be away from home varies from provider to provider, but it’s normally between a quarter of a mile and a mile.
  • Onward travel - If you break down while out and about, onward travel will provide you with a way to continue onto your destination. This could be via a hire car, train or even an overnight stay while your vehicle is being repaired. 
  • Local recovery - When a vehicle can’t be fixed at the roadside, it’ll be towed to your home or a nearby garage for further repair. Arrangements will be made for your passengers to be transferred to the same location. 
  • National recovery - A more comprehensive version of local recovery which includes all of the UK. It means your vehicle can be towed to a garage of your choice and your passengers taken straight home. 
  • European cover - Exactly what’s included with European cover can differ depending on your provider but features like 24/7 assistance, a towing service, assisted travel to destination and repatriation of vehicle and passengers are often included as standard. 

How much does personal and vehicle breakdown cover cost?

Figures from comparison site MoneySupermarket show you can secure personal breakdown cover for under £40 but taking out vehicle breakdown cover is likely to cost upwards of £50. This will obviously vary depending on how much you add onto your policy.