Advertorial: Taking your car abroad

May 21, 2010

With a range of convenient ferry links and the channel tunnel, driving abroad is increasingly easier and popular, giving the English the freedom and control over when and where they choose to travel. Whether for business or for a holiday, taking your car to the continent can bring a range of advantages and benefits, dispensing with the need to hire a car or use public transport. But if you don’t prepare yourself and your vehicle for going abroad, it can be a very stressful experience. To avoid problems, prepare your trip well and make sure with your car insurance company that you’re fully covered to drive abroad.

Car Insurance abroad

Under EU law, all British motor insurers must automatically provide third-party cover in all EU countries as part of the terms of insurance. It’s a relief that, if you’ve got cheap car insurance in the UK and decide to take your car abroad on a whim, you’re not breaking the law by driving uninsured. However, having full comprehensive cover in the UK doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have the same cover abroad. Some policies allow 60 days of cover per year at no extra charge, but normally you have to pay extra to extend your cover.

If you carry your insurance certificate, it’s not necessary to take a green card with you as proof of cover. However, the green card is a handy document if the local police want to know whether you are properly insured because it is issued in several languages. Most insurers issue a green card for free if you ask for it. It’s also advisable to ask your car insurance company for European accident statement forms. In the unfortunate event of an accident, you will need these forms for noting details on the spot.

Be well-prepared

Before you leave, you should check the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the driving laws of the countries you are visiting. Be aware that, if you’re travelling to Europe, local speed limits might be in kilometres instead of miles. Whilst you’re abroad, it’s best to drive defensively and be very alert because the local driving style may differ from that of the UK. Especially if you’re not used to driving on the right side of the road, it’s crucial to be well-rested and take regular breaks.

Driving and drinking is never a good idea, but you should especially avoid the combination when you’re abroad because the alcohol limit may be lower than in Britain. Alcohol will influence your ability to react to the different driving style of other motorists while driving on the other side of the road. If you don’t want to risk ruining your trip, it’s best not to take any risks.

It’s also a good idea to prepare your car for the trip. Make sure you can comply with the vehicle requirements of your destination. If you service the vehicle before leaving the UK, you will reduce the risk of it breaking down.

Avoiding the hassle and stress of a breakdown

The cost of bringing back a broken down car from mainland Europe can work out at well over a thousand pounds. Having no breakdown cover abroad could therefore leave you with a bill higher than the cost of your holiday. If you want your car to be repaired in a foreign workplace, you might have to wait for days if they need to order parts. Also, the language barrier could lead to a lot of problems when trying to arrange for a replacement car. If you want to avoid all these problems, it’s worth looking into car insurance policies with European breakdown cover. Things to consider when choosing your cover might include features such as emergency roadside assistance; a replacement car if your car cannot be repaired; the return of your car to an address in the UK; and, if the only designated driver is unable to drive, a replacement driver cover to get everyone home safely.

When choosing a policy, it is very important to look at the terms and conditions. There may be restrictions on the amount of time that the cover will apply, so before deciding on which policy is right for you it is worth considering the likely duration of your time abroad for that year. Some policies will offer a multiple trip option, so if you are planning on taking your car abroad more than once in a year, it could be more cost effective to take this option. Good car insurance will help you to achieve that well deserved peace of mind during your holiday.

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