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Only half of motorists buy European breakdown cover before travelling abroad

20th April 2006 Print

Although it estimates the average cost of repatriating a car and its occupants back to the UK from Europe is around £4,500, Europ Assistance says that less than half the British motorists heading across the channel this summer will take out continental motor breakdown cover.

EA attributes drivers’ failure to take out suitable breakdown cover to a number of causes: In some cases it’s a conscious decision to try to save money, in others it’s a belief that the driver can handle a problem themselves should it arise, so they don’t bother to buy breakdown insurance, even though the modern day car is no longer something a DIY motorist can work on.

Every year EA sees many British motorists travel aboard with a car that is in poor mechanical order, especially those that are more than three years old.

"It’s always the same – you breakdown at 7pm on a Sunday when all the local garages are shut and no one in the car speaks the local language to help you resolve your problem," explained Charles Walckenaer - Managing Director

"Providing European breakdown cover is all about having the right contacts in the right places and that’s where companies like EA come into their own. If it’s not immediately fixable, we arrange overnight accommodation nearby or provide alternative transport to get the driver and passengers to their destination, depending on how long the car will take to fix, and we keep them updated as to the vehicle’s progress. That way they miss as little as possible of their holiday, and all it has cost is the original insurance premium," he added.

EA provides breakdown cover to 1.75m motorists and typical breakdown cover for a family of four travelling on a 15 day holiday in France in July is just £51.27 and a further £20.60 if you are towing a caravan – a total investment of just over £70.

EA has agents in 208 countries. Break down in a foreign country and your call goes straight through to its assistance centre in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is manned by multi lingual assistance specialists.

"Providing overseas motor cover goes way beyond getting the car repaired or the car and occupants repatriated. We may need to arrange hotels, taxis, hire cars, and railway or air tickets. It’s a logistics exercise, and each one is different depending on the customer’s needs; for example if a customer has their dog with them, we need to know when the pet passport expires, as this can affect the timing of the return journey we are arranging. We handle everything from simple breakdowns or flat tyres through to the after-effects of major road traffic accidents," he said.