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This past Thursday the family packed up the car and headed to Provence for a long weekend. A trip that should have taken four hours took six when my front left brake started smoking. As my husband kicked the tire (because that’s what men do to fix things), my first thoughts were of our morning disagreement when he declared it was time to get rid of my somewhat beat up Subaru. My second thoughts were, “We’re in a foreign country! What do we do?”

car breakdown

We called TCS, the Touring Club Suisse. In Switzerland the yellow car would find us and fix the problem but in France and any other European country they will tell you to call the local help number, which strangely is 112 (the European equivalent to the American 911). A tow truck showed up within 45 minutes.

The TCS Sociétariat Motorisé (CHF87.00 – 93.00) covers all roadside problems you may have in Switzerland including mistakes you might make like filling the car with unleaded instead of diesel or locking your keys in the car. Don’t laugh. I have a friend who’s done both.

Then there are varying degrees of Travel Insurances offered. We pay the most extensive insurance of CHF 199 that includes holiday cancellations due to illness or injury, baggage insurance, repatriation, medical, legal, translation and automobile assistance for our entire family around the world. So in our case this past Thursday, the TCS is covering the expense of transporting our vehicle to the nearest acceptable garage which cost EUR 150 and our rental car which may be up to 10 days.

Upon returning home I discovered that my normal car insurance also has an “assistance en cas de panne” and I have Subaru Assistance (by servicing my car every year); both cover taxi and train, car rental or flight home as well as towing.

So am I paying too much? That is always the question with insurances. Living in a small country, we are bound to travel outside our border so in my opinion travel insurance is worth the investment. But do your research. I personally like the TCS. They are always helpful and have never turned down a reimbursement. Other companies who offer travel insurance are:

  • Alliance : between CHF 155 and CHF 345 annually for a family of four.
  • Atupri : CHF300 annually for a family.
  • AXA Winterthur: CHF 279.50 annually for a family of four.
  • La Poste : I couldn’t find anything on-line but there are brochures at the post office.
  • STA Travel : I think travel companies tend to be a rip-off.  This group’s premium is CHF 196 for a three week holiday to USA valued at CHF 4,000 for four people.

One last piece of advice. Remember to always have the card with phone number and policy number of whatever company you choose! I wasted precious vacation time and roaming minutes looking for the out-of-country TCS number.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/

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