As a motorist, there are all sorts of on-going costs you need to fork out for, including fuel, tax, servicing and MOT and insurance.
These costs can soon mount up, so breakdown cover may seem like another costly expense and one that could be skipped. But no matter what the car and how well you take care of it, there is no guarantee you will never break down.
If you need roadside assistance – especially on the hard shoulder of a motorway – and you don’t already have cover in place, you will end up paying a substantial one-off price just to be towed to a local garage. The price before repairs will probably be more than you would have paid for a year’s breakdown cover, so buying –cover in advance is well worth considering.
But while you may assume your roadside recovery will give you complete peace of mind, this may not be the case if you’re planning a holiday on the Continent. Many UK policies do not cover motorists driving in Europe – so you need to check the terms of your policy. If not, you could find you come unstuck a long way from home.
So, if you are heading to the Continent, you will need specific European car breakdown cover. You may be able to add cover with your existing provider. Alternatively, you could look to purchase it separately from a provider offering standalone European breakdown cover.
What is European breakdown cover?
European breakdown cover will ensure you are covered when you take your car abroad and drive on the Continent. This will offer you protection should you find yourself stranded during your travels.
With dedicated European breakdown cover, you get the same guarantees as you would with a UK breakdown cover policy – meaning that if you run into trouble, you will get your car repaired at the side of the road or, if that’s not possible, at a local garage.
In more serious cases, if your vehicle needs to be brought back to the UK, your policy will also cover you for this. But crucially, as mentioned above, you must not rely on your existing UK breakdown policy, as many do not offer cover for Europe.
If you have failed to take out specific European breakdown cover this could leave you with all sorts of problems should anything go wrong, as you will then have to arrange for recovery services and repairs in a foreign country.
Not only that, but there may also be a language barrier which could complicate things further.
Put simply, breaking down on the Continent without the right European breakdown cover policy in place would not only be distressing, it could be financially crippling – as you could face a bill of well into four figures to bring the car home.
So while European breakdown cover may seem like yet another motoring expense, it’s a price worth paying for the peace of mind it offers.
This is the case irrespective of whether you are a frequent traveller, a business traveller, or if you’re venturing across the Channel for the first time.
Similarly, it’s vital to have adequate cover in place if you own a second home abroad – or are going to visit friends or family who live abroad or own a second home in Europe.
Read the small print
When buying European car breakdown cover, as with any insurance policy, you need to read the small print, as no two policies will be identical. Make sure you are getting the right level of cover for your needs, including the countries you will be driving through before you get to your destination.
The key here is to scour the small print with a fine-tooth comb and look for any caveats or exclusions. For example, it’s important to check the number of days you will be covered for, as some insurers will place a cap on this over the duration of the policy. Typically the limit may be 90 days during the 12-month period, and there might also be a limit on the duration of any particular journey.
Fail to read this before heading off, and you could find you fall outside this time limit – rendering your cover invalid.
At the same time, some European breakdown cover providers will also place a cap on the amount of money they will spend in any one trip. This means that your provider has set limits on the amount it will pay out to get your vehicle repaired – so familiarise yourself with this before getting behind the wheel.
Another important detail to check is how much the European breakdown cover provider is prepared to spend on getting you – and your passengers – to a particular destination. Once this figure has been reached, it will fall to you to meet any additional costs incurred. The risk here is that costs could soon mount up, and especially if you are travelling with your family.
If possible, you want to avoid having to dig into your pocket to get everyone to the nearest hotel and then having pay for accommodation, as this could see the cost of your family holiday rocket skywards.
A further detail which you should check in advance is the countries which are actually covered under European breakdown cover, as while you may assume all countries on the Continent are included, this may not be the case.
If in doubt, it’s worth putting in a quick call to your European breakdown cover company to check that all the destinations you plan on travelling to are covered under your policy.
Far better to set off on your holiday safe in the knowledge that you have the right cover in place, than to find yourself stranded in Turkey, say, with no breakdown cover at all.
Other types of European breakdown cover
As well as European breakdown cover for your car, it’s worth bearing in mind that you can also buy cover for a host of different vehicles.
For example, if you’re heading to the Continent on two wheels to tour on your motorbike, you should look to take out European motorcycle breakdown cover to give you peace of mind.
Equally, if you’re heading to Europe in a van because you have a lot of gear, or are taking bits and pieces to your second home overseas, it’s also possible to get European van breakdown cover to protect you on the roads.
Both of these types of cover are available through MoneySupermarket.
How to get cheap European breakdown cover
If you’re looking to cut the cost of European breakdown cover cheaply, the good news is there are several steps you can take to reduce the cost.
When your breakdown policy is up for renewal, find out if your existing provider will offer a cheaper deal if you stay with them. When it comes to breakdown cover and motor insurance, there are rarely rewards for loyalty, but you may just find that if you’ve not made a call-out in the past 12 months, you may be offered a discount on your new European breakdown cover policy.
Equally, even if there is a discount up for grabs, it’s still vital that you research the market thoroughly to ensure you are getting the best possible deal for your particular needs.
When choosing any policy, the key is not to automatically opt for the cheapest deal without checking exactly what’s covered, as this is unlikely to offer you the best value for money. Instead, you should look at other policies from other providers to ensure you get comprehensive cover at the best possible price. The easiest way to do this is to compare European breakdown cover prices online, especially as online policies are often cheaper.
Another thing to consider as you purchase European breakdown cover is whether you want a single trip or multi-trip policy. The former is likely to be cheaper and may be more suitable to those individuals who don’t travel to the Continent very often. For more information visit our European breakdown cover single trip page. Equally, if you’re a frequent traveller or own a second home in Europe, a multi-trip policy is likely to offer better value.
Finally, for more tips and advice on how to find the cheapest European breakdown cover policy available to you, visit our money saving tips page.