Don’t risk driving abroad this summer without the right cover

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Thousands of Brits will soon be heading abroad in their cars on the big annual summer getaway to continental Europe via ferries and trains.iStock_000009986143XSmall

But a good many either won’t realise they don’t have the right car insurance for driving outside of UK jurisdiction, or will wilfully ignore the potential costs and pitfalls involved with doing so.

Why you need different insurance cover for abroad

The vast majority of standard British motor insurance policies won’t cover you for driving on the Continent or further afield.

But without arranging the right insurance, you could be in serious trouble; it’s not much fun breaking down on the hard shoulder of a foreign motorway, or busy ‘A’ road, without speaking the local language and not knowing who to call for assistance.

Not only that, if the police stop you, you could face a fine or, worse still, your car being impounded.

You risk large costs

The costs would soon mount up without cover, and you’d have to cover the bills. Once you’ve paid potentially large towing fees to get you to a local garage, you might be ripped off once they realise you can’t communicate with them very well and are somewhat desperate!

Not only that, your car might need repatriating to the UK, which can be very expensive indeed.

All-in-all, for the sake of saving a few quid, you could face a bill for thousands of pounds.

Don’t simply go for the cheapest

As with much insurance cover, it’s tempting to simply go for the cheapest quote you’re given.

By law, the minimum requirement you need to drive in Europe (at least in EU countries) is a ‘green card’, or motor insurance certificate. But bear in mind this is similar to only having third party cover in the UK, so your cover is extremely limited.

The better policies will cover you in the same way a fully comprehensive policy does for driving on British roads.

Cost and essential features

The most cost-effective route is often to simply ask your current provider to tack European (or worldwide even) cover on to your existing policy as an ‘add on’.

But check the details carefully; cover for driving abroad varies greatly from policy to policy, and there are a number of important features that a sensible motorists would consider ‘must haves’:

Length of time allowed abroad – This is usually up to 90 days, but can be more or less depending on your requirements and the type of policy.

The countries you’ll be driving in – Motorists might assume they’re covered to drive anywhere in ‘Europe’, but the chances are they aren’t. Check which countries might be excluded.

Repatriation – Check the terms of a policy if your car needs bringing back to the UK by mechanical means. Cheaper policies might exclude this, or pay out only up to a small amount.

Accommodation – Many motorists might reasonably want extra days or emergency accommodation included while a car is being fixed. If you think that’s something you’d want, check your policy offers such options as they’re not always included.

Vehicle hire – You might need a replacement car while yours is being fixed or taken back to the UK (or possibly scrapped!). Most policies will include this, but cheaper policies might put serious limitations on the type of car you can hire and the length of hire allowed.

Breakdown cover – Cover for breaking down in Europe isn’t included as standard in many policies, but having no roadside help available when abroad can put you in serious difficulties. It can usually be added to existing European cover, or bought as a stand-alone policy. The former is usually cheaper, the latter often more comprehensive.

Policy Expert

The customer service team at Policy Expert is always on hand to help – either online or over the phone. Whether you want assistance in finding the right policy or even handling a claim, we make sure it’s all handled by experts. For more information on what‘s covered under your Car Insurance policy, speak to one of our experts on 0330 0600 600 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.