Roadside assistance abroad: who pays?

Car breakdowns are annoying, especially on holiday. Is the breakdown assistance abroad covered by your insurance? Does it only pay for roadside assistance in Europe? Not all providers provide the same coverage. Comparis explains.



A warning triangle in front of a car that has been left at a standstill

iStockphoto / trendobjects

1.Assistance via car insurance
2.Roadside assistance abroad via traffic clubs
3.Assistance via car insurance
4.Breakdown service coverage through individual insurance

1. Assistance via car insurance

Have you taken out partial or fully comprehensive insurance for your vehicle? The assistance insurance add-on is often part of this. In addition toroadside assistance, it also covers services such as advice or expenses for a necessary overnight stay. The basic coverage normally only applies in Switzerland.

Depending on the product, the insurance company offers breakdown assistance in Europe. Find out in advance from your insurance company whether the protection also applies to your holiday country. Roadside assistance coverage in car insurance makes sense especially if you have only registered a car in your name.

Accidents abroad: contact insurance immediately

In the event of any damage, inform your insurance company by phone. Let the insurance company handle the rest and act only after consultation. Otherwise, not all costs may be covered.

Car insurance: how to save on premiums

Car insurance companies offer various components and add-ons. Read the fine print and get thorough information. Our tip: compare a range of vendors. The premiums for the same coverage differ significantly in some cases.

Calculate car insurance premiums

2. Roadside assistance abroad via traffic clubs

Three traffic clubs in Switzerland offer their members breakdown assistance. However, not all have the same foreign coverage.

ACS: roadside assistance across Europe

If you are a member of the Automobil Club der Schweiz (ACS), you will receive roadside assistance throughout Europe. The membership fee is 98 francs for the first year. After that, the contribution will increase to at least 130 francs. This means that, in addition to ACS members, all persons living in the same household are also insured.

TCS: ETI letter of protection for Europe and worldwide

As a member of the Touring Club Schweiz (TCS), you are only protected within Switzerland in the event of a breakdown. The ETI letter of protection is used for TCS breakdown assistance abroad. Depending on the coverage variant, the TCS will provide roadside assistance in Europe or worldwide.

The TCS ETI letter is available from 89 francs per year and is only available for members. Young members under age 26 receive a discount. Families and couples pay the TCS from 139 francs per year, while individuals pay 93 francs for membership. 

VCS: ETI letter of protection for Europe and worldwide

The Verkehrs-Club der Schweiz (VCS) also offers membership from 85 francs per year. However, you must also take out roadside assistance cover both in Switzerland and abroad.

The VCS letter of protection covers breakdown assistance abroad and costs 89 francs or more for Europe, with worldwide coverage costing 159 francs. Families pay 107 francs for European protection and 197 francs for global protection.

Our tip: automobile clubs sometimes offer a starter discount on the first annual premium. It is therefore worthwhile to look for special offers.

3. Assistance via car insurance

Have you already taken out travel insurance, or are you planning to do so for your upcoming trip? You can include roadside assistance abroad as an additional component.

As with all providers, the following applies to travel insurance: in the event of damage, inform them quickly. Do not organize anything yourself until you have consulted with them. Otherwise, not all costs may be covered. Comparis has put together the most important information for you: What does your health insurance company's travel insurance cover?

Accidents involving hire cars abroad?

Are you travelling abroad by hire car? Please note: car insurance does not cover damage to your car. You can find out more about this topic here: Tips for renting a car abroad

4. Breakdown service coverage through individual insurance

If you rarely travel, taking out one-off roadside assistance insurance is a good idea. However, coverage is limited in time. Before you take it out, check to see if the coverage is also effective abroad. 

Our tip: we recommend car assistance via travel insurance or at the traffic clubs if you have registered several vehicles. The providers automatically insure every car you register.

This article was first published on 10.08.2016

This might also interest you

Car accident abroad: what you need to know


Insurance for borrowed cars: who pays if there's an accident?


Third-party driver insurance: who needs it and how much does it cost?


Which car insurance do I need?

Welcome! You are now logged in.
Go to user account