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Rising costs lead drivers to question breakdown cover

An increase in the cost of living has left drivers looking for savings in their motoring costs, including cancelling their breakdown cover

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An increase in the cost of living has left drivers looking for savings in their motoring costs – including now cancelling their breakdown recovery, worrying new research has discovered.

Rising fuel costs, increases in parts and labour prices and a general upsurge in the cost of living is hitting motorists hard and they are looking for areas in which to claw back some everyday outgoings.

Now new research has revealed that one of those considerations is to cancel their breakdown insurance.

The findings, from road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has revealed that one in five (21%) of the 1,000 drivers surveyed are considering cancelling their recovery cover.

Within the findings, half (50%) of 18-24 year olds questioned said they have considered cancelling their cover, compared with just 14% of 55-64 year olds and only 7% of drivers over 65.

Answers also varied according to region, with nearly half (44%) of Londoners stating they’re thinking of cancelling – the most likely to cut these costs – compared with just one in ten (10%) of residents from the North East.

Though it saves money in the short term, cancelling your breakdown recovery outright could prove to be quite counter-productive. In the unfortunate event that you become stranded by the roadside, without cover, you could end up paying through the nose to sign up for a membership on the spot in an effort to get on your way as soon as possible.

In addition, the longer you spend on the roadside, the more exposed you are to potentially fatal accidents. “Most fatalities on motorways involve a stationary vehicle, so having cover means you are more likely to be rescued quicker, reducing your chances of being hit on the hard shoulder or in a running lane,” says Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart.

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There are ways to save money by altering your breakdown cover instead of cancelling it – keeping you on the road while putting a dent in your expenses:

Breakdown recovery policies can essentially be split into two types in the UK – personal cover, where you can claim on any vehicle (as long as it meets the requirements stated in your policy) whether you are the driver or a passenger, and vehicle cover, which lets you claim for a specific vehicle.

If you have a personal cover policy, choosing to cover just one vehicle instead could net you a big saving – potentially cutting your monthly spend on breakdown cover in half.

The large majority of breakdown cover policies in the UK are national – covering drivers across the UK should their cars start to faulter. However, if you only use the car to nip around town and not much else, a local cover policy may be more appropriate, and cheaper too.

The next step up from national coverage, some providers offer European breakdown cover. These policies are quite expensive, and definitely not necessary unless you travel by car in mainland Europe on a monthly basis.

If you currently have European breakdown cover, consider the savings you could make opting for a local or national cover policy, and only consider upgrading to European cover when it’s time for the family holiday.

Breakdown policy providers also offer a few optional policy extras that can hike up your monthly payments, including key replacement, battery replacement, tyre replacement, and cover for when you use the wrong fuel at the pumps. If you have any of these, it’s a good idea to assess if these are really necessary.

Also, remember to update your policy so that it reflects your current status. Have you sold your second car? Then you need to change that multi-car breakdown policy. No longer using the trailer or getting rid of the caravan? Then they need to be removed from your breakdown recovery policy.

With cost-cutting in mind, it is crucial to repeat your shopping around every year before accepting your renewal quote. It’s a common ploy from the big providers to offer you a cheap rate when you first sign up, then jack the price up to double or more when you need to renew it a year later.

When it’s time to renew, check the best offers elsewhere then call your current provider and demand that they match the best price you can find, even if it’s a big difference. It’s almost certain that they’ll do so, or at least offer you something competitive.

If you conclude that your car’s breakdown cover is still too expensive to keep, Neil Greig explains that there are a number of things you can regularly do to avoid breaking down in the first place.

“While we will always urge motorists to take out breakdown cover, those who are unable to afford it during such straitened times should carry out a series of regular vehicle checks themselves, which may prevent any avoidable breakdowns.

“These include ensuring engine oil is topped up, checking tyres daily, practising good driving habits and paying attention to warning lights and strange noises.”

Additional reporting by Sean Rees

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Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.