Enough European Car Insurance?

People don't know whether they have European car insurance or not, it would seem.

Half of UK drivers have no idea if they're covered or not, if they were to hop over the Channel for a few days in their car, according to a recent a survey reported by 'Which? Magazine'.

In fact, every UK car insurance policy allows the minimum level of cover required by the law in the countries you travel through – normally third-party only.

Got it covered

But if you have an AA Comprehensive Car Insurance policy, you will benefit from fully comprehensive cover for up to 90 days – one of the most generous provisions in the market.

What's more, the cover is automatic: you don't have to let the AA know when you are going and it is valid in all EC countries and several others too.

But other insurers treat European travel differently – ranging from no comprehensive cover at all; a requirement to tell your insurer when you go; some make an additional charge and the duration of the trip can range from two or three days upwards.

Janet Pell, head of AA Car Insurance, points out that driving in Europe can be a real joy. "In many places the roads are quieter than in the UK, are well signposted and are well maintained but you do need to keep up your concentration. It can be easy to find yourself on the wrong side of the road – especially if you are just pulling out of a junction or if you are tired. Take plenty of breaks and don't be too ambitious if you are driving a long way."

Pell points out that to get the most from your holiday, and avoid any unpleasant surprises, it's worth doing a little homework before you go.

Driving in Europe

The AA – as experts in European travel – offers a wealth of travel information and offers and you can check them out on the AA's travel pages here. But here are some things you really must consider.

  • Check the legal requirements.

    Some countries require you to carry high-visibility jackets, first-aid kits, warning triangle, spare bulbs and you could be fined if you don't have them. In most countries it is also forbidden to carry a speed camera detector.

  • Check country-by-country advice before you travel.

    Local rules vary from country to country.

  • Take all of your vehicle documentation with you.

    These could be checked at any time.

  • Don't drink and drive.

    The drink-drive laws in most countries are tougher than in the UK – in some cases, zero tolerance.

  • Can you speak the lingo?

    If not, for maximum peace of mind you should take out European Breakdown Cover which will cover you in the event of your car breaking down from the moment you leave home. Following a serious breakdown or accident, if you car can't be repaired locally it can be repatriated while a loan car is provided so you can continue your holiday.

  • Don't forget Travel Insurance and your EHIC health card.

    The card is free from the EHIC website.

Says Pell: "That might seem a lot to think about. But it's worth it – if you've not driven in Europe before you'll wonder why you've left it so long to do so – the open road beckons and there are countless places waiting to be discovered.



Last updated: 1 June 2009