Car Insurance and Driving Abroad

Car Insurance or Driving Abroad

If you've booked your holiday for later this summer (or are thinking of getting a late deal to escape this dreadful weather!) then you'll no doubt be getting excited about your trip, counting down the weeks or days, checking weather forecasts for your chosen destination, shopping for holiday clothes or so on.

If you're planning on driving when you're abroad it's easy to focus more on the maps or the issue of driving on the 'wrong' side of the road than on the need for adequate auto insurance.  If you're going to be driving as part of a fly-drive package, then you'll no doubt have to arrange insurance for your hire car, the cost of which may be included in the package deal.  But if you're taking your own car with you, it is vital that you remember to contact your insurers before you leave in order to extend your existing cover to allow you to drive abroad.

You are by no means automatically covered to drive your car wherever you want to once you've taken out a car insurance policy.  The risks incurred by driving in Europe are greater than they are in the UK simply because you - or every other Brit on the ferry - are trying to master driving on the other side of the road, read unfamiliar signs or follow unfamiliar routes, all within five minutes of leaving the ferry port (often with very little sleep behind you).  That raises the risk that you'll have to claim against your car insurance considerably, so your insurers would normally seek a higher premium from you to include foreign travel.  If you haven't paid that premium when taking out your car insurance in the first place, expect to pay a little more when you ring to inform them of your travel plans.

You might find that your insurer will cover you at a third-party only level for your holiday at no extra cost.  Whilst that keeps your costs low, think carefully about whether you'd rather pay a little more for the comfort of knowing that your car would be also be covered if you took out insurance at fully-comprehensive level (if you normally have fully-comp, it makes no sense to rely on third-party only abroad).

How much you'll pay for additional cover will depend on the length of your stay or how far you're travelling.  For example, if you were to insure your car with Swiftcover, you would be covered to drive your car in the European Union for up to three days, free of charge, at the level of cover you ordinarily have in the UK (e.g. fully-comp).  If you are travelling for longer, you would need to take out Foreign Use Extension cover before leaving (fortunately, can process that very quickly or your documents are available for download, meaning that even if you only remember to sort this out at 2am on the morning before your flight leaves you can still get cover or documents to take with you).