European breakdown cover: what you need to know before you buy

There is a lot more to European breakdown cover plans than meets the eye, make sure you know all the facts before you take out a plan.

Caroline Ramsey Published on 10 October 2018. Last updated on 20 January 2021.
European breakdown cover: what you need to know before you buy

Driving abroad can be a fun and exciting experience, but what happens when something goes wrong with your car and you don’t speak the local language? Having a European breakdown cover plan in place will help to save you time and stress if your car breaks down during a business trip or holiday abroad.

What is European breakdown cover?

European breakdown cover is similar to UK breakdown cover, except that your car will be covered should it break down whilst driving in a European country. A European breakdown cover plan will allow you to get help from European roadside assistance who will either get your car repaired at the scene or towed to the closest car repair garage, depending on the severity of the problem.

Driving abroad can be a fun and exciting experience, but what happens if something goes wrong with your car and you don't speak the language?

Most drivers will have a UK breakdown cover plan in place and many providers will also offer European breakdown cover too, which can be added to an existing cover plan. Check your existing UK breakdown cover plan just in case European cover is included and if not then it’s a good idea to purchase the add-on for peace of mind and to save yourself some money.

Is European breakdown cover worth it?

European breakdown cover can be a good idea because if your car breaks down in a European country, then you might not be able to speak the local language in order to call for roadside assistance, a tow or to converse with a local car mechanic to get it fixed and the costs of bringing your car back to the UK could also be covered, saving you a lot of money.

Another advantage to having European breakdown cover in place is you won’t need to make any of the necessary arrangements yourself; your European breakdown cover provider will deal with the hassle on your behalf. You won’t be left with the headache of struggling to find the nearest car mechanic or how to contact the local roadside assistance for help.

If you have a second home in Europe, have friends or family that are living abroad or if you frequently travel to Europe on business, then it is really sensible that you have a European breakdown cover plan. However, it’s also worth having a plan if you’re just going over to Europe on a short trip, or even if it’s your first time.

How much does European breakdown cover cost?

The cost of European breakdown cover ranges from provider to provider, but having said that, most European breakdown cover plans are relatively affordable with average prices starting under £10 for a single trip and going up to £100+ for annual multi-trip policies, depending on the plan and what is included. You can find out more about the costs of European breakdown cover and compare prices with our comparison service.

Many people aren’t aware that there is a one-off price to get a tow if your car breaks down on a motorway, added to that is the extra costs involved when getting your car repaired at a nearby garage. Should your car need to be transported back to the UK to get it repaired, the costs can skyrocket up to four figures.

In most cases, the price of the tow alone will cost more than the average European breakdown cover plan, so paying for a cover plan can be a good investment that is worth considering.

Where can you buy European breakdown cover?

There are a number of European breakdown cover plans and providers with competitive prices that you can choose from, so there is no excuse not to look into European breakdown cover before you set off. The first place to start is your UK breakdown cover provider; many will offer an additional cover plan for driving in Europe which will save you time researching the web.

Ensuring that your car is covered if it breaks down in Europe is going to give you peace of mind should the worst happen.

If you don’t already have a UK breakdown cover plan and you will only be driving in Europe for a short period of time, then you can either buy single trip European breakdown cover to cover you during a holiday or business trip or, if you are planning on driving in Europe regularly, then you might want to consider purchasing annual European breakdown cover.

How does European breakdown cover work?

Should your car break down in Europe, you should be able to enjoy the same bonuses and benefits of a UK breakdown cover plan, if you have a European breakdown cover plan. You won’t be left marooned at the side of the road or on a dangerous motorway, but instead you will be able to call for roadside assistance and get your car towed to the closest car repair garage.

If you are unlucky and you need to use your European breakdown cover when you are abroad, once you have safely arrived at the nearest garage, you should give your European breakdown cover provider a phone call to go over the next steps. Make sure you keep any receipts from the particular roadside assistance company that rescued you, as the costs can be claimed back from your European breakdown cover provider.

Can you get cheap European breakdown cover?

There are several ways that you can reduce the cost of your European breakdown cover. One of the easiest ways is to check when your UK breakdown policy is due to be renewed and ask them if they provide European breakdown cover as well. You should be able to get a good deal on a new European breakdown plan if you’ve not made any roadside assistance calls during that policy year.

However, it’s unusual for breakdown cover providers to recognise customer loyalty and provide discounts on this basis, but there certainly is no harm in asking. Before you look at the rest of the market, make sure that you read the fine print of what the European breakdown policy actually covers. You need to make sure that all of your needs will be fulfilled by your new plan.

About the author:

Well-established content creator who specialises in the personal finance industry. More than a decade of working in editorial teams, she offers highly tailored content covering a number of topics. Read more

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