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Last updated
October 25th, 2023

What is European breakdown cover?

European breakdown cover protects you if your vehicle breaks down while you're overseas. If your car breaks down without it, you may have to pay hundreds of pounds out of your own pocket.

The best European breakdown cover can include roadside assistance if your vehicle stops and won’t restart during a journey. It even helps with costs if your car needs to be taken back to the UK for repairs.

If you visit Europe often, it's a good idea to compare quotes and find a European breakdown policy that can cover your vehicle overseas. Don’t just opt for the cheapest – pick the policy that best suits your needs.

European breakdown cover is not included in standard UK breakdown policies."

Do I need European breakdown cover?

Whether you need this type of insurance will depend on your circumstances and what cover you already have in place. There are two ways to get European breakdown cover: 

  • Add it to your policy if you already have standard breakdown cover

  • Buy a standalone European breakdown cover policy for your trip

How to choose the best European breakdown cover

It’s important that you find the right cover for your needs, so here are three things to consider during the decision-making process:

Consider the type of policy you need

There are two main types of European breakdown cover to choose from; single-trip policy or annual and multi-trip policy. Which one you choose will depend on how often you plan to travel around Europe – if you only plan on going away once, single-trip will be the cheapest option.

Look at the extras

Try not to focus on finding the cheapest deal as this might not be the most suitable cover for you long-term. Marginally more expensive policies might include benefits that give you more protection if something happens.

Take your time

When you are looking at insurance options, it’s always better to shop around and not rush your decision. Compare quotes from a variety of providers and always read the policy details to fully understand what is and isn’t covered.

What is covered?

Europe-wide breakdown policies broadly offer the same cover as standard UK policies, including 24-hour helplines, roadside assistance and vehicle recovery. 

With European breakdown cover your insurer will arrange to send a mechanic to you or meet you at a safe location if your car’s needs to be towed off the motorway by a local operator.

You can also get extra protection with European breakdown cover, including:

  • Cover before departure

  • Vehicle and passenger repatriation

  • Customs duty indemnity

Decide what you need your policy to cover before comparing policies to ensure you get the protection you want.

Which countries will I be covered in?

You should be protected in most of Europe, although most policies split the countries they cover into three zones. Breakdown cover may be offered at different levels in different countries, so check your policy documents for exact details. Not all insurers cover the same countries, and some providers may also define the zones differently. For example, these are the territorial zones as defined by the RAC:

Zone 1

Andorra, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Monaco, the 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, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (South), Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of North Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, , Serbia, Slovakian Republic, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine.

How much does European breakdown cover cost?

The cost of European breakdown cover depends on several factors:

The length of your trip or trips: the price differs depending on whether you're going for a few days or several weeks, over one or more multiple trips abroad. Buying annual European breakdown cover is likely to be more expensive if you’re only travelling overseas once, and for a week or two. However, if you make several or longer trips to the continent in a single year, an annual policy is likely more cost-effective

Which country you visit: while policies usually cover most of Europe, certain countries may be more expensive than others, especially for vehicle repairs. Other countries, such as Russia, won’t be covered by standard policies

The type of vehicle you’re driving: some cars are more expensive to repair in different parts of Europe, depending on the availability of parts. Breakdown cover should cover these costs for you, but your vehicle’s make and model may affect your premiums

The level of cover: the more extensive the cover, the more it will cost

As always, comparing European breakdown cover quotes is the best way to find a policy that gives you the cover you need at a price you can afford.

FAQs

Can I get European breakdown cover for older vehicles?

While some breakdown cover providers will cover cars of any age, others set maximum age limits, such as 16 years. This is because older vehicles are more likely to break down and can be more expensive to repair.

That said, while there are fewer insurers willing to provide cover, and it may cost more, you can still get breakdown cover for an older car. Paying a little more for breakdown cover would still be cheaper than covering any costs yourself.

Can I get cover for a single trip?

Yes, you can get a policy that covers one trip to Europe if you’re looking to go away for one to 31 days. You may be able to get cover for longer trips if you speak to your preferred insurer or a broker.

Will I need to speak the local language to get help?

Even if you’re pretty fluent in a foreign language, the fact that you can call a UK-based helpline to arrange for an engineer to come and help you is a big plus. After all, could you explain exactly what seems to have gone wrong with your car to a local mechanic over the phone?

Can I cover a motorhome or caravan in Europe?

Yes, most policies can protect these vehicles when you go to Europe. Find out what vehicles a breakdown policy can cover here.

What happens if I have to return home before my car is fixed?

Most policies cover the cost of returning your car to the UK. Some also give you a hire car while you wait for your car.

Will I be covered before I go abroad?

Yes, most policies offer cover before your departure. This means you can use your breakdown policy for up to seven days before you leave the UK.

Explore our breakdown cover guides

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What breakdown cover is right for you?
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About the author

Lucinda O'Brien
Lucinda O'Brien has spent the past 10 years writing and editing content for regional and national titles. She applies her industry knowledge to ensure readers can make confident financial decisions.

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