Driving around Europe may sound like an ideal holiday to some people, but it can quickly turn sour if you don’t have the right insurance and breakdown cover.
All UK car insurance policies are required to have the minimum level of cover to drive in the EU. This means if you have a UK car insurance policy then you automatically have Third Party Only cover when driving in the EU. However this wouldn’t cover you for any damage to your own car or to get your car back to the UK if it could not be driven back.
Most insurers and breakdown providers offer the option to extend your current policy to include driving in Europe for an extra fee.
Recent research by Britannia Rescue shows that 9% of UK adults are planning to drive in Europe this summer, which is 4.27 million people. And one in twenty (6%) drivers who have broken down in the last five years, have broken down overseas.
If your car breaks down in Europe and you don’t have the correct breakdown cover you could be left with some hefty costs to get the car fixed and back to the UK. If a car cannot be fixed, it costs around £1,000 upwards to have it repatriated to the UK.
By taking out European breakdown cover you would be covered for a number of the costs that could arise if your car breaks down while abroad:
- Money towards the cost of a hire car or overnight accommodation
- Bringing your car back to the UK
- Someone collecting your car from Europe when it is repaired
If you break down in Europe and get a hire car for the remainder of your holiday, you cannot drive the car out of the country. This means you will potentially have to find other means of getting back to the UK, which can be expensive if booked at the last minute. This can particularly be a problem for those who have loaded up the car with luggage – say for a camping holiday – who then have to pay extra to load this onto a plane.
It’s not just breaking down or having an accident that you should think about if you are planning to drive abroad this summer. Here are some top tips to consider if you are planning on driving abroad this summer:
- Do a thorough check on the country you are travelling to and the driving laws of that country. For example it is illegal to drive with spare petrol in your car in some European countries such as Greece and from July 2012 motorists driving in France must carry a breathalyser kit in their car. Get a warning triangle, a complete set of bulbs, first aid kit and a fire extinguisher. This should comply with most European countries' laws. Visit www.drivingabroad.co.uk for tips and information.
- Plan your route before you leave. If you have a portable sat-nav system, check if you can download a map of the country you'll be visiting.
- Do a thorough check on your car to make sure that it is roadworthy. Check the tyre tread and if you are travelling on unusual terrain, make sure you have the correct tyres for the conditions. Check the oil, engine coolant and windscreen wash is full.
- Consider taking out European breakdown cover. Breaking down abroad can be very stressful and costly. UK cover can usually be extended to cover you while driving abroad and provides peace of mind should things go wrong.
- Make sure you have a rear GB sticker and headlight beam deflectors.
- If you wear glasses when driving, make sure you have a spare set with you.
- Check your driving licence is valid for Europe.
- Tell your insurance company when you're going abroad and find out what to do if you have an accident.
For more information on car insurance visit the LV= website