a mechanic checking the electrics of a car engine.

Car breakdown cover

At Hastings Direct, we offer four levels of car breakdown insurance, from basic roadside recovery to misfuelling and breakdown cover in Europe.

What is breakdown cover?

Car breakdown cover offers you an extra layer of protection when you're out on the road, on top of your standard car insurance policy. With breakdown cover, you have that extra reassurance if your car lets you down.

How does breakdown cover work?

Damaged tyres, flat batteries, alternator faults, worn out spark plugs… these are just some of the many causes of car breakdowns. While carrying out regular car maintenance will help to limit the chance of your car breaking down, you can't stop it from happening altogether – after all, who can predict a flat tyre from driving over a pothole? This is why many drivers make the decision to take out breakdown cover.

If your car's tyre blows, the engine doesn't start or the alternator gives up whilst driving on the motorway, depending on the level of cover you take out, your breakdown provider will come to your rescue. Breakdown cover is usually offered at the time of taking out car insurance, but it can be added to your policy at a later date if you feel like you'd benefit from the added protection.

Breakdown cover features and benefits


We offer four levels of breakdown cover, provided by RAC:

  • Roadside
  • Roadside & recovery
  • Roadside, recovery & at home
  • European motoring assistance

If your vehicle can't be driven because of a breakdown, your insurer will arrange for the service as shown below.

Service Roadside Roadside
& recovery
& at home
European motoring assistance
Misfueling in the UK ›
If you misfuel your vehicle we will arrange for your vehicle to be drained and flushed of the contaminated fuel, and refuel up to ten litres of the correct fuel.
UK-wide coverage ›
Your insurance will cover you within the UK.
Roadside assistance ›
We will arrange service at the scene of the breakdown. If it cannot be fixed, we will arrange for the vehicle to be taken to a local garage. (up to a maximum of 15 miles)
Caravan and trailer service ›
If your caravan or trailer breaks down in the UK a permanent or temporary repair will be carried out at the roadside. Recovery of your caravan or trailer will only be provided if it is attached to your vehicle and your vehicle has broken down and needs recovering.
Recovery away from home ›
If your vehicle cannot be repaired at the roadside or at a local garage the same day, we will arrange for one of the following: the vehicle, you and your passengers to be taken to your chosen destination or home; bed and breakfast accommodation for one night; or hire of another vehicle of similar size.
Emergency driver ›
If you start your journey and find you are unable to drive due to injury or illness acquired during the journey, we will arrange for a driver to continue the journey or return you and your vehicle to where the journey started.
Cover at home ›
We will arrange to fix the vehicle if your vehicle breaks down at or within one quarter mile of your home.
Cover in Europe ›
Our cover in Europe gives you the benefit of our roadside, recovery and home service levels and provides cover while travelling in Europe with your car in the event of a breakdown.

Do you need breakdown cover?

Owning and running a car isn't cheap, so some drivers avoid taking out breakdown cover as a way to keep costs to a minimum. But this could be a mistake, as if you were to break down and need assistance, the cost of being recovered is likely to outweigh the cost of an annual breakdown policy. Breakdown cover for cars isn't a legal requirement, but taking out a policy with us means you'll have access to a respected and trusted provider if and when you need them.

What to do if you break down

Breaking down is inconvenient and frustrating – and it can also be pretty frightening if you find yourself at the side of a busy or dimly-lit road. Here are some tips to help keep you and your passengers safe whilst waiting for your breakdown provider to arrive:

On the motorway

Motorway hard shoulders are dangerous places to be, so if you think your car can make it, get off at the next service station or junction and find a safe place to park up. If you've no choice but to pull over to the hard shoulder, you should:

  • Pull over as far left on the lane as possible, turning your steering wheel to the left
  • Turn on your hazard lights
  • If it's dark, put on your sidelights, and fog lights if it's foggy and you can't see for more than 100 metres
  • Exit from the left-hand side of the car and make sure all passengers do the same
  • Stay as far back from the road as possible, behind the barrier
  • Locate a marker with your motorway position on it
  • Call for help while waiting with (but not close to) your car
  • The Highway Code advises pets remain in the car unless you consider it to be an emergency situation
  • If you feel at risk due to another person, get back into your car and lock all the doors until help gets there.

If your car gets fixed on the hard shoulder and you're ready to re-join the motorway, be patient and wait for a safe (meaning large) gap in the traffic. If it's clear and safe to do so, use the hard shoulder to build up speed before moving onto the carriageway.

On other roads

Small, fast, winding and dimly-lit roads can be just as scary to break down on, particularly if it's dark and there's no-one around. Here's what to do:

  • Switch on your lights. If visibility is poor due to bad weather or darkness, turn on your car's sidelights. Similarly, if thick fog means you can't see over 100 metres ahead or behind you, use your fog lights
  • Position your warning triangle. If your car's emergency kit includes a warning triangle, place it at least 45m behind your car. This will let other road users know to expect a broken down car ahead of them
  • Stay in a safe place. With the car stationary and warning triangle out, put on your reflective jacket (if you have one) and find a safe place away from the traffic. If there's a safety barrier, stay behind it until help arrives
  • Call for help. When it's safe to do so, phone your breakdown provider for help. If you don't have a phone or it's got a flat battery, you'll need to walk to an emergency phone to call the Highways Agency or police.

What's the Hastings Direct breakdown number?

Taken out a policy with Hastings Direct? Here are the emergency contact numbers you'll need:

RAC car breakdown assistance

You can also report your breakdown with RAC online.

What if you're taking your car abroad?

If you're planning a driving holiday to Europe, you don't want car complications spoiling your trip. Our European breakdown cover will give you reassurance you're well-protected when driving to, around and back from your destination.

Quality breakdown cover with Hastings Direct

Take out vehicle breakdown cover with Hastings Direct and you can boost protection with our range of optional extras, such as enhanced personal accident cover, motor legal expenses and car key protection. Limitations may apply.

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