Let’s be honest: when your motorcycle breaks down, it’s a complete pain in the wotsits.
Whether your bike won’t start at home or if it conks out on the way to work or during a European trip, it’s a frustrating experience and bound to ruin your day.
Having even the most basic motorcycle breakdown cover will limit the disruption and grief that comes with a motorcycle that’s not behaving. With just one phone call you’ll be in safe hands.
Table of Contents
This is a guide to UK motorcycle breakdown cover but check out this article if you’re looking for European motorcycle breakdown cover.
Your guide to cheaper motorcycle breakdown cover
As motorcyclists, we are particularly vulnerable at the side of the road. Unlike car drivers, we can’t so easily sit and wait in relative warmth with the radio for company.
With policies available from under £30 a year, it makes sense to get your motorbike covered as the average cost of a callout and recovery is £250. Ouch. This guide will help you find the right provider.
Nationwide cover, no callout limit
The AA is a quality organisation. With 365-days a year cover, if they can’t fix your bike, they’ll take you to a local bike garage who can. Most of their vans can tow a motorcycle, so you won’t need to wait for a recovery truck. While you can save a couple of quid on cheaper providers, the AA’s service is comprehensive.
Roadside assistance and recovery
If you’re looking for the cheapest motorcycle breakdown cover from a name you can trust, then go with Start Rescue’s entry-level policy. It offers roadside assistance, recovery to a garage or home address up to 10-miles away. It also includes accident recovery, emergency hotel cover and lost or broken key cover.
Motorbike recovery: what you need to know
Our quick guide helps you make sense of the (somewhat) confusing world of motorcycle breakdown cover.
1. There are two types of cover
First, you have to decide: do you want to cover your bike or do you want to cover yourself?
If you opt to cover a bike, this will give you the cheapest cover and is the sensible option if you only ever ride one machine. You provide that bike’s registration, take out a policy and it’s covered. Incidentally, the bike will be covered no matter who is riding it (nice little bonus).
If you opt to cover yourself (also known as personal cover), it will mean that you – the policyholder – are covered on any bike if it breaks down (whether you’re riding, or pillion). As the policy price is calculated by risk, these policies are more expensive as the breakdown provider has to factor in high-risk vehicles.
If you only have one bike, this isn’t a good policy to go for. If you two bikes, you’ll find that most providers allow you to bolt on the additional bike for a reduced fee. You might still find that taking out an individual breakdown package for each bike is still cheaper than personal breakdown cover.
2. There are different levels of cover (usually 4)
The different levels of cover available dictate the features you get with your policy but also the price. All the main providers have very similar levels of cover, so it’s relatively easy to compare between them all. However, they will often call their packages by slightly different names, making things a bit more complicated.
This is the most basic level of cover. A mechanic will come out to you to try and get you on your way. If they can’t fix your issue, they’ll take your bike, you (and your pillion if you have one) to the nearest garage. Usually, the distance they’ll take you is limited to around 10 miles. They’ll also need you to be a set distance from your registered home address (usually a minimum of one-quarter of a mile).
Exactly like the Roadside cover above, but if they can’t fix your motorcycle’s problem, they’ll take you to any garage or address. Some providers limit this to any garage or your home address.
Handy if you want assistance in case your bike won’t start. Home start packages cover you for eventualities that stop you from getting going, like a flat battery for example. Home start is usually a bolt-on to one of the packages above and normally quite a bit more expensive than Roadside cover.
This policy means that the breakdown provider will provide a means for you to carry on your trip, while your bike is sent to another destination (a local garage for example). Let’s say you’re from London and going for a weekend in Cornwall, this package would get you to Cornwall while your bike is taken to a local garage for repair. This could be via a hire car, train or taxi. Another option is they will put you up in a hotel overnight while your vehicle is being repaired. You’d then be reunited with your bike when it is fixed.
3. OK so, there’s one more type of cover: European
Brexit not withstanding, we’re still in Europe (just!) but all of the cover options above will be limited to the UK. If you’re heading to ‘mainland Europe’ you’ll need a European motorcycle single-trip breakdown policy.
If you want European cover, you can bolt it on to most of the policies above with the majority of providers (although some won’t let you bolt it on to a basic policy). However, it’s unlikely to be cost effective as you’ll be paying annually for motorcycle cover in Europe but only using it for a small percentage of the time.
A single trip European motorcycle breakdown cover policy is usually a good value for money option. You can take out packages that cover you for one day right up to annual policies, so you only pay for what you need. Read our European guide to choosing the right cover.
4. You may already have cover with your insurer
Some insurance companies offer breakdown cover as part of their policy but this is becoming rarer-and-rarer as insurers compete for your business on price comparison websites. In order to give you the lowest price, they strip out anything and everything.
If your policy does include cover it may be very limited (i.e. with an excess) or it may not offer any form of recovery.
If the company you insure your motorbike with sends you a Christmas card every year and knows the name of your first-born child, then the chances are you’re paying way too much for your insurance but you might also have a comprehensive policy that includes quality breakdown cover.
Best Buys: motorcycle breakdown cover
If you’re looking for the cheapest motorbike breakdown cover, we’ve compared the household-name recovery services. Our comparison table gives you a good idea of who provides the cheapest service for their most-basic roadside assistance package.
|Provider||Annual Price||Min Dist. from Home||Max Recovery Dist.||Excess||Callout Limit|
|£45||1/4 mile||10 miles||£0||None|
|£45||1/4 mile||10 miles||£0||5 per annum|
|£37.11||1 mile||10 miles||£0||6 per annum|
Our quote was based on a 2-year old 2016 Yamaha YZF-R1 but a 2002 Yamaha YZF-R1 was on average just £10 more expensive.
Best ‘covered on any vehicle’ options
There isn’t a provider who offers a bespoke Car & Motorbike breakdown cover policy. Providers like the RAC do offer an ‘any vehicle’ two-vehicle policy, where you’d nominate the numberplate of both your car and bike. However, these work out as expensive – if not more expensive – as personal cover.
The benefit of personal cover is that it covers you for any vehicle, whether you’re riding (or driving) or pillion (or passenger). So if you sell a bike or ride a mate’s bike or whatever you do; if you’re with a vehicle and it breaks down, it’s covered because you’re covered and you won’t need to constantly update the registration plates on your policy.
Our table below shows you all of the personal policy options from the main providers, with national rescue, i.e. wherever you are in the UK, if you need towing home or to a local garage, you’re covered.
This covers you for a car or a motorcycle, so for most of us, it’s the cover to get.
We like The AA’s cover. For £39.99 a year, you’re covered on anything and you have unlimited callouts.
|Provider||Annual Price||Min Dist. from Home||Max Recovery Dist.||Excess||Callout Limit|
|£55||1/4 mile||10 miles||£0||None|
|£55||1/4 mile||10 miles||£0||5 per annum|
|£51.56||1 mile||10 miles||£0||6 per annum|
The main motorcycle recovery firms
AA motorcycle breakdown cover / theaa.com
As the self proclaimed “fourth emergency service,” The AA are a well established brand name that offers reliable and flexible breakdown cover. AA breakdown cover includes help at the roadside as well as transportation to a local garage for you and your bike if they cant fix it there and then. They will also offer assistance at home for those mornings when your bike just won’t start.
Because they are such a big organisation, you will usually be attended by an AA engineer, who will arrive in a liveried van, meaning you can be sure the you are being assisted by a professional and well qualified mechanic at all times.
RAC motorcycle breakdown cover / rac.co.uk
The RAC offers the same levels of breakdown cover for bikes as they do for cars, including support in the case of an accident, roadside recovery, home start and repatriation to a local garage where necessary. They pride themselves on their ability to fix a large number of motorbike call outs at the side of the road, meaning you can be back on your journey as quickly as possible. Just like The AA, they run their own fleet of vans and highly trained mechanics.
ETA motorcycle breakdown cover / eta.co.uk
If green is your thing, ETA is a carbon neutral provider of breakdown insurance, designed for the environmentally concerned biker. They offer home start, roadside recovery and repair services in one of two ways; personal breakdown that covers you on any motorcycle as rider, or vehicle breakdown that covers a nominated motorcycle instead. They have met their Carbon Neutral status by planting trees in the UK to offset their carbon consumption, which is nice!
Start Rescue motorcycle / startrescue.co.uk
If you are looking for no-frills breakdown cover, Start Rescue offer low-cost cover to riders in the UK. They offer five levels of cover, starting with straightforward roadside assistance right up to comprehensive cover that even protects you against theft or damage to your bike whilst it is waiting to be repaired or recovered. They use local mechanics rather than their own fleet.
Green Flag motorcycle / greenflag.com
The reason Green Flag aren’t featured in this article is that when we tried to use their online quote system it wouldn’t recognise 7 different motorcycle number plates we tried but when we tried a car number plate, it worked first time. Green Flag also use a network of local mechanics to attend to their customers on the road or at home. Unlike the RAC and The AA, they don’t send their own mechanics to the roadside but rely on local mechanics to undertake breakdown assistance on their behalf. This means that they have access to a vast number of mechanics and claim this can help reduce response times.
Motorcycle breakdown cover FAQ
Breakdown cover is fairly straightforward but here are answers to some common questions.
Am I covered for punctures?
Most of the major players: The AA, RAC and ETA will repair a puncture using a plug. While tyre manufacturers advise you to get your tyre replaced after such a repair, it is more robust than using a foam tyre sealant. It’s always a good idea to carry a puncture repair kit with you as you can be up and running in a matter of minutes.
If I’m riding with a friend are they covered on my policy?
No. However there are ways you can get around this, although the breakdown providers would frown on these methods. If you have personal motorbike breakdown cover but it’s your friend’s bike that breaks down while out riding, you can always ‘swap’ bikes and the recovery service will attend to the bike that you’re riding.
Can I change my bike halfway through my policy?
Almost all providers will allow you to change your bike throughout the duration of your policy, most without any charge. However, some providers will not allow you to claim for the first 24 hours after changing your details.
Is there a motorcycle breakdown price comparison website?
A few of the price comparison websites offer motorcycle breakdown cover. However none of them can access rates from the biggest players: The AA and RAC.
The two price comparison sites that we recommend are: Confused.com (the quickest quote form of them all) and GoCompare (cheap prices and it’s easy to amend your quote details).
Do these packages cover me for European trips?
A basic roadside single-bike policy won’t come with European cover. All the major providers offer European cover as a bolt-on but it almost always works out more cost-effective to arrange a separate European breakdown policy that will get you back to the UK in the worst-case scenario.
See our European motorcycle breakdown guide for the best providers.
Can I get classic bike breakdown cover?
Yes. Most insurers classify a 10-year old bike as a classic but some want the bike to be 15 years old. When it comes to classic bike breakdown cover, The AA, RAC and Start Rescue are the major players who don’t mind how old your bike is – the price for a single-bike policy is fixed.
ETA do vary their price according to the bike’s age but when we checked a 2-year old Yamaha YZF R1 versus a 16-year old R1 the price difference was just £10 per annum.
Do new bikes come with breakdown cover?
Yes, some manufacturers offer free UK (and sometimes European) cover with a new motorcycle for the first 12 months or entire warranty period.
It’s amazing that not all manufacturers offer this free for the first 12 months as you would be pretty miffed if your brand-new bike conked out in the first 12 months.
Honda’s package is called Hondacare Assist and lasts for the length of your warranty. Ducati Assistance covers you for 24-months from the time of purchase across the UK and Europe. Kawasaki, Triumph and Yamaha’s package is in conjunction with the RAC and lasts for 12 months. AA Suzuki Assistance is provided for 12-months with every new Suzuki.