Like any machine, a car can break down. It can also be the target of malicious acts and you are not immune from the possibility of an accident. When you are abroad, things can become very complicated. However, there are ways to prepare and protect yourself.
With a new car, the manufacturer sometimes offers a support service in addition to the two-year statutory warranty. Before taking out breakdown assistance insurance, it is therefore important to check the cover already in place, as well as the intervention limits (maximum amounts reimbursed). If necessary, take out a contract with a specialist breakdown assistance company or request this option from your usual car insurer.
The car assistance must help you continue your trip (replacement car) or repatriate you. It also ensures that breakdown recovery costs are covered, either by paying them directly or by reimbursing you afterwards.
A replacement vehicle is essential, especially in order to continue travelling while waiting for the repair or to return home. However, the type of cover must be checked (number of days, mileage, authorised drivers).
The territory may vary (Belgium, Benelux, EU, Europe, distance from home). The same applies to a leased or company car. If the country or countries visited are not covered by assistance in the event of breakdown, accident or theft, take out specific assistance cover.
In the event of theft, comprehensive insurance will also come into play. It is necessary to check its geographical scope. The same applies with mandatory third-party liability in the event of an accident. In this case, the authorised countries are shown on the insurance certificate (former green card).
How to call for help?
In the event of theft, vandalism or an accident, you should call the local police. In most European countries, the number 112 is used to call for help. In some areas, there are still orange phone boxes at the side of the motorway. However, it is useful to note or memorise the specific number for the police in each country you visit. If the incident takes place at your holiday location, the help of the hotel receptionist, campsite, town hall or a local resident is often useful. You can also contact your car insurer and travel insurance company directly. Travel insurance often includes cover for the most serious events, with cover for victims and possibilities for repatriation.
In the event of a breakdown, the first response is to call your car and travel assistance, except on motorways where you need to use the emergency telephones or the emergency call number (usually 112). The operator will guide you. Depending on the contracts and risks, they will offer you either a breakdown service or a visit to the nearest garage or one of your choice. In the event of a breakdown on the motorway, it is not always possible to choose your breakdown service. The operators of the motorway network or the authorities sometimes impose secure, specialist services. In this case, you will often have to pay for the service and then have your assistance insurance reimburse you.
Car assistance insurance does not cover the cost of replaced parts and accessories. It will only cover the breakdown recovery, service and possibly the replacement vehicle.