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Interview: Correct behavior for breakdowns abroad

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What should I watch out for if my car breaks down abroad ? Our expert Guido Binder, Head of 24-hour Customer Service, provides answers to the most important questions

What should I watch out for if my car breaks down abroad?

The first thing to do before driving abroad: bear in mind that different countries have different rules. As such, before your vacation, you should find out which items you should carry with you in the country you will be driving in—and in the countries you will pass through on your journey. This will save you a lot of hassle with the local police in the event of a breakdown or an accident.
In addition, before you start a long journey, make sure that your car has been serviced and is ready for use, and that all of the key systems have been checked—battery, oil level, tires, lights, brakes, engine, fan belt, etc.

What do you recommend I do if I break down abroad?

Call us in any case, around the clock, on +41 58 218 11 00. We will organize roadside assistance and, if necessary, check for alternative options for your onward journey or journey home, as well as transportation for your vehicle. Even if you do not have insurance coverage, we would be happy to help you in an emergency. You would need to pay any costs incurred by yourself on site.

Special rules in France: only certified towing services are permitted on freeways. You can call for help from any SOS telephone, or call 112. Contact us immediately if you cannot continue your journey or if you have any questions.

Even if you do not have insurance coverage, we can advise you if you break down or have an accident abroad—around the clock: +41 58 218 11 00

Guido Binder, Head of 24-hour Customer Service

How am I protected with AXA if I break down?

If you have chosen OPTIMA car insurance with accidental damage coverage from AXA, you are insured for traveling through Switzerland and Europe. This includes the recovery of your vehicle, its return to Switzerland, and your return or onward journey up to a certain amount. For the COMPACT and BASIC options, it depends on which modules you have included.

Is the car not repaired abroad?

That’s up to you, but do you even have the time to wait until your car is repaired? In addition, many customers prefer to have their car repaired at a garage they trust. In this case, we organize for your car to be returned to a garage of your choice within Switzerland.

Do you cover the cost of a replacement vehicle?

Yes: depending on requirements and availability, replacement vehicles or other means of transport are insured for your onward journey or journey home—even for the duration of the repairs—with the new “replacement vehicle service” module. You will also receive more benefits if you have concluded INTERTOURS travel insurance with us, rather than a mobility module as part of your normal car insurance.

The costs of your onward journey or journey home are covered in accordance with the limits in the contract. If there are no hire cars available, we turn to other means of transport. For hire cars, the provisions of the hire company apply, e.g. it may not be possible to drive a hire car to Eastern Europe.

In which countries do you offer roadside assistance?

Throughout the whole of Europe, we work together with selected assistance partners who have suitable roadside assistance networks. Our selected partners have a roadside assistance network throughout the whole of Europe, including neighboring Mediterranean countries.

How do I get a replacement vehicle, and what should I watch out for?

When organizing your onward journey or journey home using a replacement vehicle, there are a few conditions that must be met. Depending on the country or the hire car office, there may be rules about minimum ages and driving licenses. In addition, regardless of the booking method, a credit card (note: prepaid cards do not always work) in the name of the driver must always be presented at the hire car office. Furthermore, other restrictive provisions may apply depending on the country—for example, restrictions regarding exit from or entry into countries in Eastern Europe with hire cars.

We would be happy to give you more information about the options available to you for your onward journey or journey home using a hire car. 

How does my car get back to Switzerland after a breakdown?

We organize return transportation through a specialized company that loads your car onto a car transporter truck and brings it back to Switzerland, straight to the garage of your choice. Please be patient: 95% of cars are transported back to Switzerland within two weeks. This is because the transport company usually transports several broken-down vehicles back to their destinations in one single collection.

How long does it take for help to arrive in the event of a breakdown?

In Switzerland, roadside assistance reaches you within 30 minutes, and you will be up and running again within one hour in over 90% of cases. When you are abroad, it can take longer. In particular, this is because a roadside assistance service often has to travel further to reach you. But even there, we have chosen especially reliable partners who will do all they can to help you as quickly as possible.

What is important to note as a customer with DrivePartner or the myAXA app?

As a customer of AXA, you have the option of incorporating DrivePartner—a smart app—into your car insurance for free. With the help of this service, you can request roadside assistance while transmitting your location directly from the app in the event of a breakdown. After crossing the border, you will also receive an SMS containing the most important information for the country you are visiting.

Furthermore, our customer portal app, myAXA, also offers you the option of requesting roadside assistance via the app in the event of a breakdown—even from abroad.

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    Guido Binder

    Guido Binder is Head of 24-hour Customer Service, and provides information about interesting services on the topic of travel.

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