If you travel by car to Europe, it may be a good idea to purchase European breakdown cover as you will receive the same protection and assistance as you would in the UK.

You will also get the extra cover for the following:

1. Cover before you leave the UK
2. Vehicle and passenger repatriation
3. Customs duty indemnity

You have the choice of either adding European breakdown cover to your standard car insurance policy or purchasing a separate European policy for a particular trip.

Most insurers provide these two options:

Single trip: This is cover for a specific trip in Europe. Many providers cover a journey of 1 to 31 days.

Annual or multi-trip policies: This policy will cover you for any trips taken to Europe for a year. There will be a limit to the trip duration and the number of claims that you can make.

Being covered will allow you to access a 24 hour English speaking helpline.

If you already have cover for UK breakdown, you may already have European breakdown cover in your policy. Contact your provider to check and see how many trips the policy covers.

I’m not sure what option to choose?

If you are taking one trip with your car to Europe, a single European breakdown policy will work out the cheapest for you.

If you are planning to take your car to Europe more than once, it may be more beneficial to take out the annual policy. Depending on which provider and which policy you choose, you may find that your policy covers up to trips of 90 days, but that may limit you to make only three claims per year.

What does the European breakdown policy cover?

European breakdown cover has the same benefits as a UK policy:

1. Roadside assistance
2. Alternative travel
3. Emergency accommodation costs
4. Parts and labour

There are also specific benefits of the European breakdown cover.

1. Before you leave. The policy will cover you in the UK before your travel abroad. The cover may be up to seven days before you go.
2. Vehicle and passenger repatriation: If your vehicle can not be repaired while in Europe, the cost of getting you and your vehicle back to the UK will be covered. Some policies will provide with a hire car while you wait for your vehicle to be returned to you.
3. Customs duty indemnity: This will cover the cost of import duty if the repair cost of your car is more than the market value and it has to be scrapped in Europe.

Are all the countries in Europe covered?

You should be covered for most European countries. Insurers typically split the countries into three zones:

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, Slovakian Republic, Turkey and Ukraine.

The zones have been defined by the RAC. However, policies may differ. You should always check with your breakdown cover provider.

What should I do if I break down?

If you break down during your trip to Europe you should do the following:
1. Pull over safely
2. Get all the passengers out of the car and to safety
3. Call your breakdown provider on their European helpline number (this will be in your policy details)
4. Give them your policy number as well as your exact location and your contact telephone number.

What happens if I break down on a French motorway?

French motorways are privately managed, your provider will not be able to send a recovery vehicle to you. You will need to use an emergency telephone box which is on the motorway, and the police will send help to you. After you have been towed off the motorway, you can contact your provider, and they will be able to assist you.