European motorcycle breakdown cover guide

motorcycle breakdown cover 2019 1 - European motorcycle breakdown cover guide

Annual breakdown cover or Single Trip? Our guide helps you choose.

There is a motorcycle utopia out there, where the roads are well surfaced, free from traffic and the locals really do like motorbikes. That utopia is a 30-minute Channel Tunnel ride away and it’s called… France!

However, no matter how great Europe is for biking adventures, if you don’t have a motorcycle breakdown cover policy in place before you go, you’re risking a dream trip turning into a bit of a nightmare.

There’s only one thing worse than your motorcycle breaking down and that’s your motorcycle breaking down while you’re in a foreign country.

Sure, even with a European policy, if your motorcycle breaks down it’ll still be a massive ball-ache and really put a downer on your trip but with a quality assistance package in place, it doesn’t mean the end of your holiday. You’ll be given roadside assistance or whisked to a local garage where they can fix your bike. In the worst case scenario, your bike will be recovered back to the UK, saving you a couple of grand in the process.

Of all the things to skimp on before a European motorcycle trip, the £40 it costs for European cover isn’t one of them. Hopefully you’ll never need it but it could be the best £40 you’ve ever spent.

european breakdown cover - European motorcycle breakdown cover guide
Our Pick

Covers cars and bikes, annual or single-trip

A comprehensive Euro breakdown policy that can be bought as an annual policy or pay-as-you-go cover. Complete roadside reassurance with 24/7 English-speaking helpline, any vehicle covered any age, spans 44 countries across Europe. Alternative accommodation and onward travel arrangements. 5-star rated by Defaqto.

European motorcycle breakdown cover: what you need to know

The basics you need to understand before you take our a policy.

1. You can take out single-trip or annual cover

Most of the major providers will cover you from as little as one-day and up to 90-days on a ‘single-trip’ policy. If you’re going away for a week (or even up to a fortnight) then a single-trip policy is likely to be the cheapest breakdown cover.

2. There are different levels of cover

The majority of European motorcycle breakdown cover will cover you for roadside assistance, relay to a local garage and if the bike can’t be repaired; recovery back to the UK. In short; everything you’ll need.

Of the major players, the RAC has three levels of cover:

  • Standard
  • Comprehensive
  • Comprehensive Plus

The AA has two levels of cover:

  • Lite
  • Full

Another good provider, ETA has just one level of European motorcycle breakdown cover:

  • Comprehensive with Europe

The different levels on offer affect how many claims you can make per trip and how much (if any) money you’ll have to fork-out in the worst case scenario.

The ‘light’ European breakdown packages will limit the money that the recovery company is prepared to pay at each stage of your claim (i.e. they’ll pay £500 towards recovery to the UK).

The ‘full’ packages essentially mean you make a phone call and set the wheels in motion and you won’t need to pay any extra costs. A full package costs around 20% more than a light package and for the sake of £10 to £20, we’d opt for the full package, every time.

3. An annual policy doesn’t mean 365 days of cover

Annual European breakdown cover packages usually have a limit. The AA and the RAC have a 90-day limit per trip. Some other providers will offer a maximum of 31 days of cover for any single trip, which is plenty for most of us.

With annual cover, you take out the policy, then call your provider to let them know you’re going abroad and for how long you’ll be away for. Most of these policies don’t limit the number of times you can go abroad in a year, so if you like nipping abroad on an ad-hoc basis, an annual policy is the way to go.

However, keep an eye on the Terms & Conditions documents for any provider. Some of the cheaper providers limit you to a set number of trips per year and a lower number of days of cover per trip – that’s how they keep their costs down.

4. Long single-trip policies can be more pricey than an annual policy

It doesn’t sound logical but here’s an example of how an annual European breakdown policy works out cheaper than a long single-trip policy.

For this quote we specified a 2-year old 2016 Yamaha YZF-R1 and a 2002 Ducati 998S. The table below shows the results for the R1. The Ducati had a very similar output, i.e. an annual policy is cheaper than a long single-trip policy.

Demonstrating how an annual European breakdown package can work out cheaper than a long single-trip policy

ProviderCover7 Days31 Days90 DaysAnnual 
rac motorbike - European motorcycle breakdown cover guideStandard£37.06£85.84£171.29£81.74

rac motorbike - European motorcycle breakdown cover guideComprehensive Plus£47.84£110.79£222.15£117.35

5. Check the country you’re going to is covered

This is definitely something to pay attention to if you’re venturing further afield than the ‘common’ European countries like France or Germany.

The AA splits its European cover into four zones: Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3 and ‘All Zones’. For most European adventurers, Zone 1 covers everything we’ll need:

AA Zone 1 breakdown cover:

Channel Islands
Isle of Man
Republic of Ireland

However, The AA‘s Zone 2 also covers Austria, Gibraltar, Italy, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, the Vatican City and Italy. If you only have Zone 1 cover and you break down on a twisty road in The Alps, you might be up the creek with no paddle in sight!

If you’re a bit of an adventurer and heading further east to countries like Romania or right up into northern Europe, to countries like Norway, you’ll need each provider’s maximum coverage and despite what you might think, those packages aren’t stupidly expensive.

Price comparison websites can catch you out too. While they almost always offer the cheapest packages, you get what you pay for, so check their cover suits your requirements as some will only cover France and Germany and may not cover you en-route to a UK port.

Zone price example for The AA’s European cover

We used a 2-year old 2016 Yamaha YZF-R1 as our bike in order to get these quotes below.

ProviderCoverDurationZone 1Zone 2Zone 3All Zones 
theaa motorbike - European motorcycle breakdown cover guideFullAnnual£106.09£122.85£134.02£139.60

As you can see from the table above, it pays to make sure you’re covered in whatever country you’re in. If you’re nipping into Italy for example, you’ll need The AA’s Zone 2 cover and at £15 more than Zone 1, if your bike conks out on the Stelvio Pass, you’ll be glad you didn’t risk it.

6. A family UK & European breakdown package could be your best bet

The majority of European motorcycle breakdown cover is in addition to any UK cover. The AA and the RAC, for example, will sell you a UK policy or a European policy and not one policy that covers both.

In fact, some providers refer to it as ‘European breakdown insurance’ and that’s in reality what it is: an insurance policy against you breaking down. If you do break down, the UK-based provider sources help from the country you’re in and they foot the bill – they ‘lose’ as it were.

However one provider’s package looks like a great buy if you want a combined car and motorcycle European breakdown package.

ETA’s ‘Household – Comprehensive with Europe‘ package covers up to 5 people in the same family, regardless of the vehicle you’re in. It’s a full UK national recovery breakdown cover, covering cars or motorbikes and it’s also a full European cover package too. The price? Just £160 for the year.

That’s great value for money when you compare it to the rivals. The RAC offer a UK-only national-level package for just one person at £119. If you bolted on the RAC’s Comprehensive Plus annual European motorcycle breakdown cover, that would cost £117.35, meaning you’re looking at £236.35 for just one person.

At £160 for the year, ETA’s breakdown cover is good value for money just for one person but the fact it covers you and up to 4 others in the same household, across the UK and Europe in cars or on motorbikes – that’s a pretty good deal. Just one policy to renew once a year to cover yourself, your partner and your kids.

The AA’s European policies start from £7 per day, so you can just grab the cover you need and pay as you go.

The cheapest European motorcycle breakdown cover

We looked at all of the comparison websites to find the cheapest deal. Unlike insurance, you rarely get different rates from the different comparison websites when it comes to breakdown cover.

We tested MoneySupermarket, GoCompare, and Compare The Market – all the prices were the same.

We’d go with Money Supermarket purely based on the fact they ask the least amount of questions and it takes less time to fill out the form.

Our scenario for a quote was a Saturday to Saturday quote which works out at 8 days. We quoted for a 1-year old Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade and the cheapest quote was £24.45 from Eversure. We hadn’t heard of Eversure before but they’re an insurance company and their feedback for their insurance packages on Feefo is 99% from more than 3,500 reviews.

If you’d be happier going with a ‘known’ brand, The AA‘s price for the same scenario was £41.06, the RAC £47.84 and younger upstart ETA are just £25.25.

European motorcycle breakdown cover FAQ

Can I get classic motorcycle European breakdown cover?

Yes. Most providers deem your bike to be a classic if it’s more than 15 years old. These providers vary their policy price depending on how long you’re going away for, which countries you’re visiting, the level of cover you require and the age of your motorcycle. When we compared a 2-year old Yamaha R1 to a 16-year old (classic!) Yamaha R1 on The AA‘s Full Annual policy, the prices were £41.06 compared to £93.27 for the classic. So if you have an older motorcycle you can still get cover, you’ll just have to pay that bit more.

Do I need UK or European breakdown cover for the Isle of Man?

If you’re going to the Isle of Man to watch the TT or the Manx GP, you’ll need to check your UK provider to see if they cover the IoM. For example, The AA don’t cover you on the Isle of Man on their UK policy. The RAC class the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey as the UK, so you don’t need any additional cover if you have a UK policy with the RAC.

Can I get European breakdown cover for my scooter?

Yes, all of the providers who offer motorcycle cover also cater for scooters all under the same mechanism.

Can I get motorcycle breakdown cover for Africa?

In short, no. If you’re venturing to North African countries like Morocco or Tunisia, you’re going to have to seek assistance over there. Our advice is to liaise with one of the many adventure travel companies in those destinations – they’ll help you arrange your trip and keep you under their wing.