Breaking down abroad
European breakdown cover explained
Many businesses cannot function properly without their vans. If the van breaks down, supply chains can be broken, processes can be interrupted, people and equipment can be left in the wrong locations and deliveries can grind to a halt. This is why van breakdown cover is an essential purchase for any operation running commercial vehicles of this nature.
The purpose of commercial van breakdown cover is to minimise disruption and delays by getting the vehicle back on the road swiftly. The cost of buying the cover can be well worth while given the potential impact of a van being off the road for any length of time. Both financially and in terms of damage to your company’s reputation.
What’s more, the alternative – paying a one-off fee to have your vehicle towed to the nearest garage for repair – can work out to be extremely expensive. And it could take longer, making the problem even worse.
As with any contract of this nature, it is important to know what sort of service you require, and to understand the various products that are available. For example, according to the way your business is set up, you can choose between a ‘personal’ and a ‘vehicle’ policy.
The personal version is where a named individual is covered on any van. This means the particular person can climb into any vehicle knowing that they are protected. Crucially, the person is covered whether they are driving or are a passenger – a valuable option for firms with a busy, mobile workforce.
A vehicle or ‘van specific’ policy is where the van itself is protected, regardless of who is driving it. This gives considerable flexibility, as drivers can be allocated to vehicles without having to check that they have cover in place under their own name.
The personal cover option tends to be the more expensive because the firm providing it has no knowledge of the vans that will be used. But the way you operate you van or vans should give you a strong idea of which sort of cover would suit you better.
As with the car breakdown cover; commercial van breakdown cover offers various levels of protection and service.
The basic offer is usually known as roadside van breakdown cover. Here your policy will arrange for your van to be repaired at the side of the road. If this is not possible – because the problem is too serious to rectify at the roadside – then your van will be towed to the nearest local garage, where you will need to sort out and pay for the repairs yourself. But it’s still useful, because if the problem can’t be fixed, at least you’ll get the tow – something that would cost towards £100 if you paid for it on the spot, perhaps more if you got stranded on a motorway.
One up from roadside is national cover. Here you get the possibility of the problem being sorted out at the roadside but, if it can’t be fixed, you’ll be towed to your destination of choice (rather than the nearest garage). However, you may find there are some geographical restrictions or stipulations – there may be a mileage limit in operation, so you would not be covered beyond a given distance from base.
The next grade of commercial van breakdown cover includes the ‘home start’ service. This removes any geographical or mileage limits as well as providing for repairs to be made if the van won’t start when you try to set off from home or get into work and attempt the first journey of the day.
Each step-up in the level of service will, as you’d expect, increase the price you pay. It’s a question of determining what quality and scope of provision you are happy with.
The top – and most expensive – level of cover is known as ‘onward travel’. This includes the core roadside assistance but also provides for any accommodation or vehicle hire costs that might be triggered by the breakdown. There will be limits on how much the policy will pay out, but there should be enough for reasonable expenses.
If you have business on the Continent – either on a regular basis or as a one-off, perhaps to visit an exhibition – you need European van breakdown cover. It is essential to check that this cover is in place if you need it as it will not be included as part of a standard package. If you risk a trip abroad with no cover in place, you face huge potential costs in getting back to the UK
You can find out more about what you’ll get with this service on our European breakdown cover page.
Not every van breakdown cover contract will be the same – even at the same level of cover provision. For example, different providers might impose different restrictions on the amount of time that a mechanic can work on your van at the roadside before additional charges will be levied.
Or there might be restrictions on the size or weight of vans.
This is the sort of information that will be included in the small print.
The best way to drill into the detail is by accessing the leading providers of commercial van breakdown cover via the MoneySupermarket.com van breakdown cover comparison service, where you will also find some of the cheapest deals and best value offers available on the market.
You should also read through our money saving tips to ensure you get a cheap price on the level of cover you decide is right for you.
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