A Guide To Getting Car Insurance When Traveling Abroad
If you are planning on driving abroad this year, it’s worth understanding what the requirements are before you drive off into the sunshine. Regardless of whether you are planning on driving inside EU countries, such as France or Spain – or even further a field, there are some things you need to know, so read our quick guide below to find out more.
Driving abroad can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many countries with so many different laws that are unfamiliar to us. As such, it is important to prepare for journeys abroad, whether you are traveling to parts of Europe or other parts of the world. Fortunately, car insurance companies can provide you with that little peace of mind that helps to ease the fear of driving in a foreign country. Of course, whilst traveling abroad, there are some things that you should check before even considering your car insurance, things such as speed limits and the side of the road they drive on.
If you are with an existing car insurance company, you should check to see whether your current policy covers you when traveling abroad and the extent to which your policy may cover you. This includes both breakdown cover and medical expenses that may be incurred following an accident or breakdown abroad. Depending on where you are going, you may also need a Green Card which provides proof of minimum insurance. Some countries require you by law to own an International Driving Permit. An IDP is required in many countries because it translates the contents of your license into several different languages, making it easier for authorities to interpret. The RAC or the AA can issue you with an adequate IDP if it is required.
Remember that you must have a visible GB sticker on your car when travelling abroad if your number plate does not include this already and headlamp converters are required if you are driving on the opposite side of the road. They divert a headlight’s beam pattern to make it suitable for driving on the opposite side of the road and are easy to install (most of them are universal and so fit any car). Some countries, such as Austria and Belgium, require you to wear a high visibility jacket whilst driving an Austria makes it compulsory to include a First-Aid kit within your vehicle.
You should always notify your insurance company when you are planning to travel and drive abroad. They will appreciate the notification, and it may help should you be forced to later make a claim or require assistance. Car insurance companies make a distinction between European Cover and Worldwide Cover, so it is important to check this beforehand. Companies such as the Greenflag, AA and the RAC only provide cover for travel in Europe, for example. Even if you are insured, an insurance policy without breakdown cover could end up costing you a small fortune.
Greenflag offers European Breakdown Cover with their Euro Plus package. This package also includes full UK breakdown cover and allows you to travel for up to 90 days in Europe and still be covered, as well as 24/7 roadside assistance in any European country and local vehicle recovery. The AA offers a very similar package, only they include vehicle recovery back to the UK or onwards to your destination (whichever is the cheapest) as well as emergency accommodation and transport arrangements such as car hire. Another advantage of AA’s European cover is that you get a 30% discount when you purchase online.
The RAC promises to fix your car at the roadside or tows it to the nearest garage, give you a replacement driver if your original driver is taken ill, will help to cover the costs of continuing your journey or returning to the UK, cover emergency repairs of up to £150 and, with their comprehensive Euro package, cover you for single or multiple trips per year, depending on your needs. There is also a 10% discount for purchasing with the RAC online and an extra 10% for existing RAC members, giving you up to a whopping 20% saving.
Worldwide insurance is a little trickier to get hold of, if you’re planning to insure your car for travel to countries outside of Europe. Right now, the easiest option for insurance while abroad in somewhere other than the EU is to hire a car for which insurance is often provided as part of the contract (though this should, of course, be confirmed beforehand). If you do plan on hiring a car whilst traveling the world, there are insurance companies who offer hire car insurance packages to cover you in case of an accident. Most car hire companies, however, will offer you a Super Collision Damage Waiver, which reduces your financial liability to a limited amount, which is probably adequate cover for most.
The prospect of traveling abroad in Europe or elsewhere without adequate breakdown insurance is a daunting one, as it means having to arrange and pay for roadside recovery and return to the UK yourself, in a language that you will most probably be unfamiliar with. Your breakdown cover may also not be as extensive as you think it is. It is important to check the small print of your car insurance policy. Some clauses place a cap on the amount; they will be willing to spend on you in the event of a claim, as well as a limit on the amount they will spend to get you and your passengers to a specified destination. There may also be restrictions on the specific countries in which you are allowed to travel. If you are only traveling abroad once per year, it is probably more beneficial to look for a specific single trip policy, as offered by the RAC, as this will save you money long term.
The last thing you want to discover after you have broken down in Europe or worse, elsewhere in the world is that you are not covered by your existing insurance policy and have to fork out the money to pay for repairs, transport hire and possibly extra accommodation, as well as dealing with authorities who will most probably be speaking in a foreign language. No doubt many tourists have had their holidays ruined by this kind of nightmarish situation, but it can be avoided by considering the above points concerning car insurance and breakdown cover abroad.