Although all our vehicles are usually in fantastic working condition, there is still the possibility of your hire vehicle breaking down during your hire.

We have a support team in place to help you with one, in the event of it happening but it’s practical to read up on what to do first.


Step 1. Safety

Stay calm and move out of traffic. Whether your rental car breaks down while stopped in a car park or while driving down the motorway, you should never react by panicking.

Always stay calm, and keep a level head. If you’re driving, steer the car to the side of the road and bring the vehicle to a complete stop, engaging your hazard lights (the button with a red triangle).

  • We don’t provide safety devices in our hire vehicles, such as flares or reflective devices, so if you’re at the side of the road then it’s wise to remove your passengers and your belongings and put some distance between yourself and the road.
  • Do not attempt to drive the car further after a breakdown. Doing so could further damage the vehicle and put yourself and your passengers at risk.
  • If there is smoke rising from the vehicle then get a safe distance away, in case of fire.

Step 2: Contact

Call for help. Once you’re safely out of traffic, use your mobile phone to contact our Roadside Assistance Service on 0151 319 0257.

Our branch phone numbers are available on the Drivalia locations pages should you need to contact them.

  • Please NOTE unless you have purchased our Tyres & Windscreen insurance cover, you will have to pay for the cost of the replacement tyre.
  • If you don’t know the name of the road or town you are on, try to remember the last signpost you saw or any distinguishing landmarks/points of interest. Some companies may be able to trace your exact location using the GPS on your mobile phone, but you’ll need to switch this on first under > location settings.

If you’ve been in an accident, you will need to call the branch immediately. They may be busy on the phone with other customers so keep trying until you get through. The staff member at the branch will fill out an accident form for insurance purposes and explain what will happen next for you.

  • Take plenty of photographs of the vehicle after an accident, as they may later help for insurance disputes.
  • Do not attempt to engage in any deals or compensation with the other party, regardless of who is at fault. Never accept money for damage caused to the hire vehicle, it will not be accepted by Drivalia as payment for damage and you could end up paying twice.

Step 3: Waiting for Assistance

The breakdown assistance company will give you an ETA (estimated time of arrival) so if it’s over an hour then you’ll need to find somewhere suitable to wait it out. We have had cases of customers breaking down in rural Ireland or Scotland where there are many, many miles between garages and towns.

If you break down late at night then you could be in for a very long wait. If the vehicle isn’t smoking or leaking oil, and is pulled over or parked somewhere safe, away from traffic then there is no reason why you can’t wait inside your hire vehicle.

  • If you are going to be waiting longer, then it’s best to walk or take a taxi to the nearest town so you can find somewhere indoors to wait, especially if travelling with young children.
  • To prepare and plan for a breakdown as best you can, we suggest packing bottled water, blankets, a mobile phone charger and comfortable shoes in the boot.

Step 4: Moving On

As long as the damage to the vehicle has not been caused by you, Drivalia will endeavour to provide you with a replacement vehicle on the same day.

Availability allowing, it should be a similar category to the one that broke down so you won’t have to worry about fitting in your existing passengers and luggage.

The breakdown assistance company usually recover the vehicle and the Driver (passengers will also be recovered space permitting) to the nearest branch.

  • Don’t leave any of your belongings in the car as you may not be getting back into the same vehicle afterwards. Remember to take photographs of the fuel gauge, mileage and any damage caused.
  • You won’t have to pay for the breakdown assistance as long as your insurance covers it but it’s wise to hold on to any paperwork you’re given for roadside assistance to later claim back from Drivalia.

Step 5: Insurance

Call your insurance company shortly after the breakdown. Once you’ve communicated with the rental company, you’ll need to call your own insurance company.

Explain the circumstances of the breakdown and describe the specific problem with the rental car. Clarify whether or not you are at fault for the breakdown, and ask if damages and repairs will be covered by your insurance.

  • When you call your insurance company, state something along the lines of “I’m driving a rental car in Newcastle, and the car just broke down on the side of the road. The engine stopped running, although I did nothing to put myself at fault. If the rental company refuses to pay, will my car insurance cover the cost of repairs?”
  • If the breakdown-related damages are not your fault and the rental agreement states that the rental company will pay, your insurance company may not need to get involved. It’s still best to contact the insurance company though, in case the rental company tries to make you pay for damages for which you were not at fault.

Before travelling, you should find out ahead of time what type of rental-car coverage your insurance company provides. Even if you have a good vehicle insurance plan, if you get into an accident in your rental car, your insurance will likely only cover damages to the other vehicle, leaving you responsible to cover damages to the rental car.

  • To start this conversation, try explaining, “I’m going to be renting a bigger car soon in London. Does my car insurance cover my own vehicle in the case of a breakdown, or if I get into an accident in the rental?”
  • Tell the company whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, as this may make a difference in the insurance rental-car coverage.
  • Also ask if your insurance will cover fees charged by the rental agency, for example, repair and towing costs.

If your insurance company does not provide coverage for damages to rental cars, you can work around this problem by purchasing rental insurance from Drivalia before you begin driving the car—this will insure any damages to the rental car for which you are responsible.

Ask in branch for the best prices and most up-to-date insurance covers.