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A survey by the RAC in June 2009 found that 12% of those surveyed had experienced a vehicle breakdown while they were abroad on holiday and 10% had been in an accident.
When things go wrong on holiday, the combination of language barriers, unknown repair costs, unfamiliar locations and the desperate need to get home on time can be a scary combination.
That’s why I would always recommend that anyone planning on taking their motorhome to Europe has European breakdown cover. Even if you are a mechanic, you may still need your vehicle recovering to a garage – or even to the UK. This will cost a lot of money if you don’t have European breakdown cover.
How Does European Breakdown Cover Work?
Most of the major UK breakdown operators have European services. This doesn’t mean that they actually operate abroad – instead, they have agreements with breakdown organisations throughout Europe who will help you if you breakdown or (in some cases), if you have an accident.
What this usually means in practice is that if you breakdown, a breakdown truck will come out from a nearby garage and either repair your vehicle or (usually) take it back to their garage to be looked at.
The primary benefit is that you will be able to deal with an English-speaking agent when you phone up for help. In addition, some services will also arrange for temporary overnight accommodation, a hire car, and other assistance if required. Until you experience it, you won’t appreciate just how much stress and hassle this saves you.
Who Provides European Breakdown Cover?
Both the AA and the RAC provide European breakdown cover:
The only European breakdown service I have personally used is the AA European Breakdown Cover (Ad⇒) . At the time I used it, a few years ago, it was run from a central office in Lyon, France, by a highly professional, multi-lingual team who organised everything that’s required when you breakdown.
I’ve called out the AA European Breakdown service on two occasions while abroad — for an accident and for a breakdown. On both occasions, the service was excellent. In my view, AA European Breakdown Cover (Ad⇒) is a very good service and I would recommend it.
There may be other services that are equally good, but this is the only one I have used so can personally vouch for.
(Disclosure: I paid for my AA European Breakdown cover myself and have no relationship with The AA other than as a satisfied customer.)
The most important thing to remember when purchasing motorhome breakdown cover is to check that your motorhome will be covered. Make sure you are certain that the type, weight and size of your motorhome are acceptable to your breakdown cover provider. If you tow a trailer, make sure you understand whether that will be recovered if necessary, too.