If you’re heading abroad with your car for a driving holiday, you’re probably considering an age-old debate: “Should I take out European breakdown cover, or rely on local garages?”
Cautious types will probably upgrade to overseas cover without question, opting for quality services from their breakdown provider. Whereas those who like to wing it (or the forgetful types) will probably hope for the best and opt for local garages.
Which is best?
Research suggests that 1 in 3 Britons choose not to take out breakdown cover when driving abroad. However, this option is not for the faint-hearted and comes with plenty of cautious tales. Consider some of these scenarios should you break down in a European country without pre-arranged cover:
- Parlez…? How’s your French, Spanish or German? Wherever you are, dealing with mechanics when you don’t speak a shared language is extremely difficult. You could find yourself agreeing to anything, with very little idea of what the problem is or how much it’s going to cost.
- Do you know the area? Imagine you’ve broken down on a fast road, or in the middle of nowhere. How do you know where the nearest garage is? And how do you contact them to ask for help? A breakdown service will take care of all of this hassle for you, but only if you take out cover beforehand.
- Counting the costs: Certain breakdown policies include the cost of parts and labour. Without it, you could face sky-high garage costs. Remember, things work differently abroad and with so many independent garages operating under their own terms, each one could have their own costs for towing, assessment, repair and parts.
- In a hurry? Break down during the siesta and you could have a long wait on your hands. On top of that, if it’s a major repair job it could take days to fix your car, and you may be a low priority too. A reputable breakdown company could help push you up the priority list, or organise a hire car or accommodation for you.
- Repatriation: Some breakdown providers offer a repatriation service so your vehicle can be repaired closer to your final destination. Leave this to a garage and it could cost hundreds, even thousands of pounds.
Of course if you’re fluent in the local lingo and if you have friends or relatives abroad, you could get by somewhat easier. But it certainly pays to know your car and to be a little clued-up on the general costs of repairs and services in your holiday destination.
As for European breakdown cover, there are all sorts of different policies to help you enjoy a stress-free escape.
Most policies offer different cover depending on the country you’re visiting, the specific region, and other factors such as the age and condition of your car. Additional cover can be added to meet the cost of parts, labour and repatriation, if required.
You should also consider services like emergency accommodation or a hire car. It will add to the cost of your policy, but what would happen if your car takes 2 or 3 days to be repaired? If you’re travelling alone, or if you have a young family, or if your trip is time-sensitive – such as attending a wedding – it usually pays to be on the over-cautious side.
Most breakdown policies for travelling abroad are flexible, so you can choose cover for a single trip or, if you’re a frequent traveller, opt for annual or extended cover.
All in all, for most of us it pays to take out extra breakdown cover when travelling abroad. After all when you’re heading overseas to enjoy a fun and relaxing holiday, you certainly don’t want to worry about breaking down.