Breaking down is stressful at the best of times, not least while travelling abroad. Read this guide to better understand European breakdown cover, so you can feel confident on your journey.
In This Guide:
- What is European breakdown cover?
- What does it cover?
- Am I still covered now we have left the EU?
- Where will I be covered?
- What to do if you breakdown in Europe
What is European breakdown cover?
If you are planning on driving in Europe, be it for recreation or business, it is important to get European breakdown cover. Standard breakdown cover does not extend to trips abroad, unlike car insurance with European cover.
Once you have European breakdown cover, it will give you many of the same benefits as standard breakdown cover, such as roadside assistance and tow services to nearby garages.
What does it cover?
The two main types of European breakdown policies offer the same level of cover, but over different periods of time.
A single trip policy will cover a short trip, usually between 1 and 31 days.
Meanwhile, annual or multi-trip policies will cover you for a whole year from the start date of the policy.
While single trip policies work out cheaper, it’s important to note whether you plan to drive in Europe frequently over the course of a year, as renewing your policy may prove costly.
While most European breakdown providers will offer the same cover as what you will find in the UK, some will offer varied cover so it’s important to check before committing.
Things to look out for include:
- 24/7 assistance - Check if the provider offers 24hr cover to avoid being stranded at night.
- Towing - If your vehicle can not be repaired at the roadside, it will need to be towed to a garage. This will likely be expensive if you’re not covered.
- Cost of claim limit - Some providers will cap the cost of the claim, meaning you will have to pay the remaining balance.
- Assisted travel - The provider will help you reach your destination via other means if your vehicle can’t be repaired in time.
- Repatriation of vehicle - If your vehicle cannot be repaired in the country of breakdown, the provider will help get it back to the UK. Some providers will also extend this to passenger repatriation.
In addition to these, it is important to check if the provider covers common areas such as misfuelling, lost keys, courtesy cars, and callout limits.
It is also worth noting that providers will often offer personal or vehicle cover.
If you have personal European cover then you will be protected no matter what vehicle you are in (providing the vehicle meets certain requirements; usually private registration and age of the vehicle).
Am I still covered now we have left the EU?
Your breakdown policy should not be affected by Brexit and will still offer the same cover, unless your provider has contacted you to tell you otherwise.
If you’re unsure, it is best to contact your provider before you travel.
Where will I be covered?
This depends the policy you insure your car with. It is worth checking with your insurance company first.
If you are covered, it is worth noting that car insurance providers tend to put countries covered under European breakdown into three specific zones or regions.
Most policies should cover you in all zones, but it’s important to check where you are covered before traveling.
Your provider may also offer varied cover depending on what zone you are in:
- Zone 1: Andorra, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands and Republic of Ireland.
- Zone 2: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Gibraltar, Italy, Liechtenstein, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.
- Zone 3: Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia (west of the Urals), Serbia, Slovakia and Turkey.
(Note: Some providers may zone countries differently, so check with your provider before your journey to ensure you are covered in the country of travel.)
What to do if you breakdown in Europe
Different road laws and language barriers can make breaking down abroad additionally stressful. But there are certain steps that should be taken to ensure your safety and help support breakdown claims if needed.
- Pull the vehicle over as far from traffic as possible and put hazard lights on (and sidelights if driving at night).
- Exit the vehicle and ensure yourself and all passengers are far away from traffic.
- Contact your provider so you can inform them of the situation and what country you are in. In most cases they will help you with calling out for assistance.
- Contact local road assistance if you don’t have cover. In an emergency call 112 in any EU member state.