Whether you are travelling abroad for business or leisure, European breakdown cover is invaluable if you have car trouble while you're away.

However, the level of cover offered by different Euro breakdown cover policies and providers varies greatly so it is important to make sure you choose a breakdown cover Europe policy that is adequate for your travel plans.

Even the most basic single trip European car breakdown cover is likely to provide you with access to a 24 hour English speaking helpline. This in itself can be incredibly helpful and reassuring, especially if you do not speak the language of the country you are travelling in.

When you place a call to your provider's helpline, operatives will determine your location and arrange for a qualified local mechanic or partner breakdown service to come to your assistance.

The mechanic sent will attempt to repair your car at the roadside and if unable to do this, will tow you to a nearby garage where more extensive work can be carried out.

Features of breakdown cover abroad

It is important to bear in mind that most insurance policies place a limit on the cost of labour covered, so if more extensive work is necessary you are likely to have to contribute to the cost.

Policies will also differ in the way they cover additional parts; although most will cover the cost of parts being located and sent from the UK if they are unavailable locally, the majority will not actually contribute to the purchase of the parts themselves.

If the mechanic or garage deems your car irreparable, most European breakdown cover service providers will cover the cost of your car and its passengers to be repatriated.

More comprehensive levels of cover will also pay out for emergency accommodation and alternative travel arrangements for the remaining duration of your trip. However, it is important to be aware that some European car breakdown insurance policies will not pay out for repatriation of a vehicle if the cost of transportation to the UK is greater than the value of the car itself, so always check the small print.

Most providers offer European breakdown cover single trip policies which will cover your car on the continent for a specified number of days. For this reason you must always remember to notify your provider if you intend to extend your trip. More comprehensive levels of single trip European breakdown cover will also cover your car for a set period prior to your departure date, offer cover for older vehicles and supply a hire car if yours is unfit.

For frequent European travellers, annual breakdown cover is also available and can be an economical choice if you are likely to made several trips to Europe during a year.

Some comprehensive UK breakdown policies include European assistance and although more expensive, this can be an economical option if you require a higher level of regular cover. However, check the details as some only offer 'weekend break' cover for locations in Western Europe within a specified distance of a recognised port.

Policies vary between providers and most offer several levels of cover with additional options such as caravan, trailer and tent cover, emergency accommodation and onward travel and the cost of an additional driver if the named driver falls ill.

It is worth noting that if you ride a motorbike you can also find motorcycle European breakdown cover that will offer mostly the same features.

How to choose the best continental breakdown cover

Policies also vary as to whether they cover a specified driver or a specified vehicle. The vehicle option is often cheaper, and it can work out to be the more flexible and economical choice if more than one individual is likely to be using the car whilst abroad.

It is also important to check whether the provider covers accidents as well as breakdowns.

Whilst driving abroad it is vital that you carry your passport, driving licence (both photocard and paper counterparts), insurance and European Breakdown cover documents with you at all times in case of car trouble.

It is also important to remember that the mechanic sent is unlikely to speak English and that providers are unlikely to be able to guarantee a response time unlike in the UK; if you are having difficulties, the providers helpline should be your reference point.

By matching the level of breakdown cover to your travel requirements, you should be able to enjoy your trip with the peace of mind that should anything go wrong with your car, you will have quality assistance in place.

So, when you're undertaking a European breakdown cover comparison, check the options available on cover details as well as just price.

Other useful resources for finding the best European breakdown cover available: