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What is business breakdown cover?

5-minute read

What is business breakdown cover?
Rosanna Parrish

Rosanna Parrish

20 June 2023

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With 329,509 sold in the UK in 2022, there’s no denying how much we rely on our commercial vehicles (Statista Research Department, May 2023). Which is why it’s so important to make sure your business car or van is fully insured.

Whether you’re using your vehicle to get from A to B or it's a crucial part of how you run your business, read our guide to learn more about what business breakdown cover is – as well as how to choose the best breakdown cover for your vehicle.

What is breakdown cover?

Breakdown cover is a type of insurance which helps you if your vehicle breaks down. Your cover will generally include roadside assistance – where a mechanic comes to where you’ve broken down and fixes your vehicle. If they can’t fix your vehicle, you’ll be towed to a garage for further repairs.

It’s important to note that breakdown cover and car insurance aren’t the same thing. If you break down and don’t have specific breakdown cover, your vehicle insurance won’t cover you if you call roadside assistance. Car or van insurance helps with costs when you have an accident (and is a legal requirement), whereas breakdown cover helps when your vehicle has broken down.

Breakdown cover doesn’t just cover cars. You can get breakdown cover for whatever vehicle you drive – including vans and motorcycles – and it can even cover fleets of company vehicles.

Why do I need breakdown cover for my business?

While breakdown cover isn’t a legal requirement – for a company car or personal vehicle – it’s still an important cover to have. If you rely on your vehicle for work and something happens, you’re at risk of losing out on money, clients, and reputation.

One of the core aspects of any breakdown cover for business is roadside assistance. However, you can tailor your cover to suit the needs of your business and add what you need to.

Keep reading to find out more about some popular add-ons.

Alternative transport cover

One popular option is to include alternative transport cover, often called onward journey cover. This means that if your vehicle can’t be fixed quickly enough, your insurance will cover your replacement journey, such as hire cars or public transport costs – meaning you never have to miss a client meeting or project.

Depending on the requirements of your job, you should always make sure your onward journey cover doesn’t have any exclusions, such as maximum or minimum distances.

Vehicle recovery

If you frequently travel long distances for work, adding vehicle recovery to your cover means your vehicle can be towed to any location in the UK. It also provides you with roadside assistance wherever you are in the country, allowing you to take on jobs and clients further afield with peace of mind.

European cover

You can also choose a cover which works outside of the country. If your work frequently brings you to Europe, it might be worth adding European cover to your breakdown package. This could be a useful addition if you often have business in the EU.

Be sure to read the details of your chosen cover. Some providers allow a limited number of European trips, whilst others offer an annual cover for unlimited trips.

How does business breakdown cover work?

Depending on the breakdown cover you choose, it can work in two ways. Traditional business breakdown cover is paid in a monthly or annual fee and is there to protect you when unexpected circumstances arise.

However, some covers will have you pay for any repairs or assistance directly and allow you to claim this back afterwards. It’s important to choose a breakdown cover which works best for your business and vehicles.

Whichever type of cover you choose, paying a smaller fee each month or being able to claim back your expenses will be less of a financial burden than an unexpected mechanic fee after a breakdown.

Business breakdown cover vs personal breakdown cover

Some breakdown covers insure people and others insure vehicles. Make sure you choose a cover that works for your type of business.

You may also be able to choose a personal breakdown cover option for your business. If you’re the only driver for your business and you drive just one vehicle, you may still be covered on a personal breakdown policy. However, it’s important to check this criteria with your breakdown cover provider to see if you’ll be covered commercially.

Which is the best breakdown cover UK?

If you’ve just bought or leased a van or car, the next thing you should do is buy your breakdown cover.

With so many different types of cover available, it’s important to do your research and choose a cover which works for your business. Aspects to consider include:

  • the age and quality of your vehicles
  • how far you travel
  • how many people or vehicles need insuring
  • if you travel to Europe for work

To help you make this decision, we’ve listed some breakdown cover options to compare. As you know your business needs better than anyone, it’s important to use this as a guide and spend more time researching to find a suitable cover.

Flexible cover

If your vehicles are in good condition and you’re not too worried about a potential breakdown, you may choose to go for a pay-as-you-go breakdown cover. This means you only pay if one of your vehicles breaks down – plus an annual admin fee.

AA offers a pay-as-you-go cover option which works for fleets of vehicles including cars, vans, lorries, coaches, LGVs, and trucks.

Specialist cover

If you want the peace of mind that your cover suits your business without having to build it from scratch, many providers offer cover for specific commercial businesses. This can include taxis, couriers, and other similar businesses which rely heavily on their commercial vehicles.

You can get this with The RAC, as well as the AA.

Fleet cover

Choosing a specialist fleet breakdown cover assures you that all the commercial vehicles in your business are protected. The RAC offers specialist breakdown cover for fleets if your business has multiple vehicles.

Green Flag also lets you choose a cover plan by the size of your fleet – starting at fleets of one to two vehicles and going all the way to 20+.

Buildable cover

If you’re looking for something specific to your business needs, The RAC lets you to choose a cover based on what you’ll use. You can choose from varying levels of cover – allowing you to add European cover and onward travel as extras – or stick with the basic roadside recovery and Accident Care covers.

Green Flag lets you build on their standard level of cover to add replacement vehicles and multiple trips to Europe. Their national-level cover remains their most popular option.

Types of vehicles

Looking for a cover based on your vehicle type?

Ethical breakdown cover

If sustainability is important to your business, you can choose a breakdown cover provider with the same values. ETA offers fleet breakdown cover which is 100 per cent carbon-neutral. Vehicles must be under 3.5 tonnes and taxis and private hire vehicles aren’t covered.

Claiming business breakdown cover on your tax return

You can also claim your breakdown cover as a self-employed expense on your tax return. Whilst HMRC has clear rules on what you can and can’t include, your breakdown cover is included as an allowable business expense.

Which breakdown cover do you think is right for your business? Let us know in the comments below.

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Rosanna Parrish

Written by

Rosanna Parrish

​​Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business, specialising in legal and HR content. Trained at London College of Communication, she has been creating content professionally for eight years at publications across the UK and Spain. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world. Rosanna also writes about wellbeing in the workplace. She lives by the sea and does her best writing in coffee shops.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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