What Is European Breakdown Cover?

James Rodriguez James Rodriguez  updated on February 26, 2021

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You are hitting the road in Europe and you'd like to get properly covered in case your vehicle breaks down whilst you are travelling on the continent?

You are wondering what is European Breakdown Cover, and which insurer to go for?

We will tell you everything you need to know in the below guide.

What is European Breakdown Cover?

European breakdown cover is basically the exact same cover than standard breakdown cover, except that the policy will cover if your vehicle breaks down wherever on the continent.

Taking out European Breakdown Cover will ensure you that you will get assistance if your vehicle breaks down on the road side as long as you are travelling across a country covered by your policy. Depending on the level of policy you will choose, your vehicle can be brought to a garage or you can get a courtesy car whilst your vehicle is brought back home by your insurance company.

European cover is, in most of the cases, an optional extra for which you need to pay an extra charge. You do not need it if you are only planning to drive in the UK.

What is the best European Breakdown Cover in 2020?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, insurers might struggle to provide you assistance in some countries. Check before leaving the UK.

AA European breakdown cover

AA offers you European Breakdown Cover starting from as cheap as £7 per day. The company has over 40,000 garages partners in 44 countries in mainland Europe.

Key benefits with AA European Breakdown Cover is that you will get:

  • 24/7 english speaking helpline
  • a Defaqto 5 stars rated breakdown cover plan
  • covers any vehicle: cars, motorhomes, vans, motorcycles, caravans etc.
  • up to £50,000 onward and accomodation travel expenses in case your vehicle breaks down.

RAC European breakdown cover

At RAC, you can choose between two levels of European breakdown cover, both rated 5 stars by Defaqto. Both plans offers a dedicated 24/7 English speaking helpline.

ComprehensiveComprehensive Plus
PremiumFrom £7From £9
  • Unlimited roadside assistance
  • £150 garage labour costs
  • £500 accomodation costs or £1,500 onward travel expenses
  • Up to your vehicle value for repatriation costs
  • UK roadside assitance up to £300 and 48 hours before you leave

  • Unlimited roadside assistance
  • £1,000 garage labour costs
  • £1,200 accomodation costs or £3,000 onward travel expenses
  • Unlimited repatriation costs
  • Unlimited UK roadside assitance up to 7 days before you leave
  • New tickets if you miss your ferry or train because of a break down
RAC European breakdown cover plans

Why do I need European Breakdown Cover plan?

Having your vehicle breaking down on the side of the road always is always very annoying. But it can become a real nightmare when it happens far from your home, on family holidays for instance. Additionally, getting your car brought to a garage or getting your towed vehicle recovered to the UK if it can't be fixed can lead to thousand of pounds unexpected expenses.

For instance, if you are driving in France and your vehicle breaks down, calling a tow truck will cost you:

For 10 km £90£126
For 20 km£109£163
For 30 km£135£181
For 40 km£181£226
For 50 km£208£371
Costs of breaking down

So image your vehicle breaks down 100 kilometers away from any tow truck agency and you need your car to be brought to a local garage.....

If you are driving outside the UK, you must absolutely consider taking out European Breakdown Assistance to travel with complete peace of mind. Your UK breakdown cover policy will, in most of the cases, not cover you if your vehicle breaks down on the continent.

Should I take out personal or vehicle European breakdown cover?

When taking out a breakdown cover either for nationwide assistance or European one, you will have the choice to take vehicle or personal European breakdown cover plan.

  • Vehicle European Breakdown Cover means that you car is covered if it breaks down in Europe during your trip;
  • Personal European Breakdown Cover means that you, as an individual, will be covered in case your vehicle breaks down, whatever the vehicle is providing it respects the age and registration criteria.

Always check Personal breakdown cover exclusions. If you are driving an old car whilst travelling, you might not be covered in case it breaks down.

What types of European Breakdown Cover are there?

You can pick between two types of European Breakdown Cover:

  • single trip European breakdown cover: this plan will cover you for a single trip from the UK to mainland Europe and for a limited trip duration (it can be from one day and up to 90, 180 days or even more depending on the insurer)
  • annual multi-trip European breakdown cover: this plan will cover you for all your road trips on the continent. It is recommended if you often drive in Europe. A duration limit will apply on any of your trip.

What does European Breakdown Cover includes?

Usually European Breakdown Cover include the following features:

BenefitsWhat is covered
Roadside assistance 24/7You will get Roadside Assistance cover in Europe for the duration of your trip. Countries included and trip duration are stated in policy schedule.
Roadside assistance can be unlimited. Or you can get a number of call outs as well as a claim limit per policy period.
You should get a 24/7 assistance as people require immediate support if their vehicle breaks down on the motorway in the middle of the night.
Onward and accomodation travel expensesThis will cover your travel expenses costs if your vehicle breaks down in a middle of trip. Usually, you may get covered for:
- a courtesy car if your car needs to be repaired at a local garage or any alternative transportation costs (train, ferry, bus etc.)
- accomodation if you need to stay next to the garage whilst your car is being repaired.
A limit apply.
Vehicle recovery home to your original destinationThis will cover the cost of recovering your towed vehicle to the UK if it can not be fixed or repaired where you are.
Courtesy carThis is usually included in the Onward travel and accomodation expenses cover. Most insures will provide you with a courtesy car whilst your car is being repaired after it broke down.
Parts & LabourIf your car needs to be repaired including new spare parts and labour costs to replace them, this will cover the cost.
European breakdown cover features

What are the optional extras you can get on top of your basic European breakdown cover policy?

On top of your basic insurance including a number of call outs, roadside assistance, a certain limit for onward travel and accomodation and home start rescue, you will be able to get:

  • lost car keys cover: if you loose your car keys and you need replacement.
  • wrong fuel cover: if you need drainage and your engine is damaged.
  • repatriation of passengers to the UK: this will cover the cost of being repatriated to the UK by any alternative mode of transportation as you can't go home with your own vehicle. This cover can be either included as standard or available as optional extras.

What vehicles do European Breakdown plans cover?

Usually, European Breakdown Cover plans assist any type of vehicle including:

  • cars
  • motorhomes
  • motorcycles
  • caravans
  • minibuses etc.

However, some exclusions often apply. For instance, if your vehicle is above 10 years old or if your vehicle is more than 3.5 tonnes or up to 6.4 meters long. You must check upfront what are the insurer's main exclusions.

What should I pay attention to before taking out a European breakdown cover?

Before purchasing a breakdown cover you must pay attention to:

  • the list of countries included in your policy schedule
  • the duration of trip allowed for which you will be covered whilst driving in Europe
  • if you can call your insurer 24/7 for roadside assistance
  • if you can get a courtesy car to continue your trip
  • if your cover includes towing services, onward travel cover and vehicle recovery to original destination, as those unexpected expenses may quickly become a nightmare if you are not properly covered.

How much is European Breakdown Cover?

The average price of European Breakdown Cover is around £66.

However you can get cover from as cheap as £7 per day, for a single trip cover. An annual multi-trip cover will often cost around £80 per year.

What affects my European Breakdown Cover premium?

The European Breakdown Cover premium you will have to pay mainly depends on:

  • destination and trip duration
  • single or annual multi-trip breakdown cover
  • vehicle or personal breakdown cover
  • your car, make, model and age.

Compare cheapest European Breakdown Cover

To compare cheapest European breakdown cover deals, nothing simpler. You can just refer to our comparison tool above which lists best and award winning breakdown cover in the UK including European cover options.

The more comprehensive cover you choose, the cheaper will be the european cover.

What should I do if my vehicle breaks down in Europe?

If your vehicle breaks down whilst you are driving in mainland Europe, there are some basic gestures to adopt in order to stay safe:

  • pull over on the roadside, far away from the traffic
  • get out of your car and stay behind any motorways' barriers
  • once you (and the other passengers) are safe, call your insurer and ask for immediate support
  • if you are not covered with European Breakdown Cover, then you can call 112 which is the emergency number for all EU countries.