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European motorcycle breakdown cover guide

motorcycle breakdown cover 2019 - 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.

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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 hundreds, possibly even thousands of pounds 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

AA European Motorcycle Breakdown Cover

Simple quote form, annual or single-trip cover

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 age or make of vehicle covered. The cover spans 44 countries across Europe. Comes complete with alternative accommodation and onward travel arrangements and it’s 5-star rated by Defaqto.

Single trip European motorcycle breakdown cover

motorbike european breakdown cover - European motorcycle breakdown cover guide

If you’re heading to Europe for a long weekend or under a fortnight then a single-trip policy is definitely your best option. Even if your motorcycle is over 15 years old (often referred to as Classic) you’ll be able to get a competitive quote.

Household names like The AA offer a pay as you go European policy which is perfect for a single trip.

The cheapest price you’re looking at is around £25 for a single day’s cover up to around £90 for 10 days.

It works out at around £10 per day for their full level of cover but the price depends on the age of your bike, the duration of your trip and which European countries you’re going to.

You can get a quote from The AA here, it literally takes a couple of minutes.

Should you break down or, even worse, crash while abroad, you’ll be glad you had a recovery policy in place.

European motorcycle breakdown cover: what you need to know

The basics you need to understand before you take out a policy from any provider.

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 
theaa motorbike - European motorcycle breakdown cover guideEuropean Zone 1£37.06£85.84£171.29£81.74
theaa motorbike - European motorcycle breakdown cover guideEuropean Zone 2£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.

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, Confused.com 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 £29.80 from Eversure. 

If you’d be happier going with a ‘known’ brand, The AA‘s price for the same scenario was £45 the RAC £55 and younger upstart ETA are just £29.10.

Motorcycle Touring Tips

Before you go
Get a guidebook and find out a bit more about your destination.

Let family or friends know where you're going. Leave your contact details, the locations you're staying in and your insurance policy details.

Note the details of the closest British Embassy somewhere on your travel documents. Handy in case something unexpected happens.

Get the appropriate travel insurance and check it covers the activities you're doing.

Vaccinations & Medication
Check with your GP what vaccinations you might need for the countries you're travelling through.

Let other travellers know of any allergies or medications that you're taking.

If you're travelling within the European Economic Area (EEA)), get an EHIC from nhs.uk/ehic

Passports and Visas
Check your passport is valid.

Fill out the details of your next of kin on your passport

Take a photo fo your passport on your phone. It'll help massively if you lose your passport.

Take some backup cash which you can stash in your jacket pocket or somewhere on the bike

Check with your bank that your cards will work abroad

Check your cards aren't about to expire

Don't carry all your cards with you. Keep a spare in a secure location.

European motorcycle breakdown cover FAQ

Can I get classic motorcycle European breakdown cover?
Yes. If you have an older vehicle, you can get cover. 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.

Who are the European motorcycle breakdown providers?
You can get a policy from The AA, RAC and ETA

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.

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