Motorhome insurance: Breakdown and recovery abroad
If your motorhome needs to be repatriated to the UK, will you have sufficient cover? It’s an especially pertinent issue if your motorhome is very long, tall or heavy... We ask specialist motorhome insurance provider, Comfort Insurance, what you need to do to make sure you have the cover you need when motorhoming abroad.
For many people, the whole point of investing in a motorhome is to enjoy the open road, and that often means in far-flung countries across the Channel.
But what if your motorhome fails to proceed half-way up a Norwegian mountain pass? What if you crash your campervan in Montenegro? You can’t just call any old breakdown service; you need specialist cover that’ll allow your motorhome to be recovered to a garage so it can be fixed, or brought back to the UK if it’s terminally kaput.
With most breakdown policies, in the first instance your vehicle is recovered to a garage which will try to effect repairs. This may take some time because of the parts taking a while to be delivered, so you may be provided with a hire car to get home and you’ll then be flown out to collect your motorhome once it’s fixed.
Only if there’s no chance of reviving it in Europe will your motorhome be repatriated to the UK.
European breakdown cover isn't always standard
Most insurance policies come with European breakdown cover built in – but not all. If you’re going to cross to mainland Europe, don’t think about doing so without having cover in place; the cost of repatriating your motorhome to the UK (or even getting it recovered to a garage in Europe) will probably give you palpitations.
Whether your breakdown cover is bundled in with your insurance, or you buy it separately, the rules are the same. Make sure that you’re covered for any likely eventuality. The sort of thing that might scupper you is an over-long stay overseas (120 days on one trip is normal but 30 days isn’t rare), having too many people to repatriate (eight is the highest limit we found) or breaking down in a country that isn’t included in your policy.
So, while all of eastern and western Europe should be fine (but may not be, so check), cross over to Morocco and you’ll probably be left high and dry.
Recovering a motorhome abroad
Something else that can cause grief is a motorhome that’s too big or heavy to fit onto a regular recovery truck. If you’re towing a car, that may cause problems, too. The typical limits are eight metres long, three metres high and 2.3 metres wide, with a maximum weight of 3,500kg. If your ’van exceeds these limits you can get cover, but probably not with any policies bundled in with your insurance.
As ever, before paying for any product, check the terms and conditions and ask pointed questions if necessary. Colin and Sandra Eccles should have done that before they set off for Germany in their Hymer.
Colin explains: “After someone crashed into us in Frankfurt we discovered the breakdown policy didn’t cover accidental damage. We had to pay over £4,000 for the motorhome to be brought home, as the breakdown provider had a £200 limit on claims. To add insult to injury they would only repatriate the motorhome – not Sandra or me, so we had to make our own arrangements, which added another £700 to the bill. Getting back this money took ages and ultimately we were still out of pocket. Our breakdown policy was separate from our insurance in the hope of getting a higher level of cover, but when it came to the crunch we were left high and dry.”
Ben Cue, Director of Operations at Comfort Insurance, advises: “Check you have repatriation cover and what countries this includes. Also, check any financial limits. A £1,000 limit may seem great when you take out a policy, but when it comes to transporting a 3.5-tonne vehicle to the UK from the other side of Europe it won’t get you far. Comfort Insurance has recently increased its limit to £5,000 as a direct result of increased costs for recovery. We found that we needed to increase the cover to ensure that customers have the protection they need.”
This feature first appeared in What Motorhome magazine.
Want to read more about insuring your motorhome? Check out the rest of our motorhome insurance advice articles here.
For more advice on motorhome insurance,
contact motorhome insurance provider
Comfort Insurance on 0800 0304 206.