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RAC urges motorists to ‘take cover’ if heading on a European road trip

08 Apr 2013 at 15:07

With half-term school holidays coming up and more Brits than ever before opting to leave the crowded airport terminals behind and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road as they take their cars on trips to European destinations, the RAC is urging the estimated one in three British motorists  who don’t take out breakdown cover to think again.

Every year the RAC handles more than 50,000 calls from customers who break down in mainland Europe needing specialist assistance. Last year, the five most common countries for UK drivers to break down in were: France (60%); Germany (9%); Spain (9%); Belgium (5%) and Italy (4%).

The top problems experienced by UK drivers are:

  1. Engine faults – 21%
  2. Tyres – 11%
  3. Accidents – 7%
  4. Gearbox and clutch issues – 5%

RAC European Breakdown figures also revealed hundreds of vehicles that break down abroad each year require repatriation to the UK.

Drivers with older cars should take heed as 70% of breakdowns abroad occur with cars that are more than five years old, while nearly four in 10 (37%) repatriations dealt with by the RAC in 2012 were for cars that were more than nine years old.

And, as the number of Britons choosing to save on air fares and take European road trips increases exponentially each year, the number of breakdowns and repatriations is only going to rise further.

According to the RAC’s statistics, Brits who break down abroad without adequate breakdown cover could be faced with a hefty average bill of up to £1,000 if they break down in France, but double that amount if they find themselves stranded further afield for example, in Southern Spain or Italy, and their car needs to be recovered and returned to the UK. This could mean some unfortunate motorists face the prospect of actually paying nearly as much as the cost of their holiday just to get their car back home.

But it’s not just breakdowns that can blight a driving holiday. A car crash abroad without the necessary breakdown cover in place could result in British holidaymakers not only facing crippling costs but having to make recovery and repairs arrangements and negotiate prices while dealing with potential language barriers and cultural misunderstandings.

RAC European breakdown operations manager Dave Huggon said: “Driving abroad might seem like a great way to save money. Families can make significant savings by opting to drive to Europe rather than shelling out on airfares, airport taxes, baggage handling fees, not to mention airport car parking charges.

“However, failing to ensure that you have European breakdown cover in place could mean that your budget break on a shoestring becomes an extremely expensive excursion indeed.

“Many motorists make the costly mistake of assuming their vehicle has the same level of breakdown cover abroad as it does at home – sadly, this may not be the case. You need to carefully review your policy before you set off and check that it covers roadside assistance, recovery and repatriation, whether you break down or crash.

“If you don’t have adequate cover for your driving holiday, you need to ensure you either increase your existing contract or take out standalone European breakdown cover for complete peace of mind and to avoid unnecessary stress and significant additional expense.”

The RAC offers single trip European breakdown cover and comprehensive single or multi-trip annual policies to help keep UK drivers on the road in almost 50 countries across Europe.

Benefits include roadside assistance and repair whenever possible or towing to the nearest garage, English-speaking incident managers on call 24/7 and help with repatriation back to the UKii. The comprehensive European breakdown cover also includes emergency repairs of up to £150iii; a replacement driver if the driver is taken ill and help covering the costs of accommodation, continuing your journey or getting back to the UK.

For more information, visit or to get a quote, call 0870 333 2784.

Dave Huggon added: “Breaking down abroad is a sure-fire way to ruin your holiday and could cost you thousands of pounds if your car has to be recovered and returned to the UK, so check you are covered before you set off.

“RAC European Breakdown cover provides just that peace of mind as 90% of customers who broke down in 2012 said they were satisfied with the level of service they received. This includes both service at roadside and the speed with which calls for assistance are answered. Last year we’re proud to say that our teams answered 93% of calls within just 15 seconds.

“Even if you have the right cover in place ‘prevention is better than cure’ so it’s always a good idea to take some preventative steps to ensure your car is in good working order before you pull on to that ferry. While we can’t predict every eventuality, simple tasks such as checking your tyre pressure and ensuring your oil and water levels are topped up can make all the difference between an enjoyable, stress-free driving break and a huge holiday headache.”

To find out country-specific driving requirements, visit the Driving Abroad pages in the Travel section on

– Ends –


If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Pete Williams: 07768 811 595 /

Simon Williams: 07725 822107 /

Notes to Editors

i Daily Mail, September 2011
ii Excess applies
iii Covers emergency labour costs only

About RAC

With around seven million customers, the RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, insurance, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information – the RAC is able to meet drivers’ needs.

The RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its customers and ranked first for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study 2006 to 2009. The RAC was also the top-named breakdown organisation in the July 2009, January 2010, July 2010 and July 2011 half-yearly UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service.

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