Insurance warning as 4.1m Brits drive to the continent to avoid flying

Car drivers warned to check their car insurance, rescue cover and local driving laws before heading abroad

  • Millions of Brits plan to drive to the continent for a holiday this year, but just 21% check with their insurer before heading abroad.
  • Comprehensive policies may provide third party-only cover in Europe.
  • 68% of drivers DON’T check the driving regulations of the country they visit.
  • GoCompare’s Interactive European Driving Guide helps motorists check local laws.

New research reveals that 4.1 million Brits are planning to drive to continental Europe on holiday this year, many of whom plan to do so because they don’t want to fly abroad due to Coronavirus.1  

GoCompare Car Insurance is warning motorists who plan to take their car abroad to check they are insured to do so because their car insurance may not provide the same level of cover in Europe as in the UK.     

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Policies vary widely in the availability of cover for driving abroad but the research, commissioned by GoCompare Car Insurance, found that only 21% of people check with their insurer before heading abroad. 

UK car insurance automatically provides the minimum third-party cover to drive in EU countries (and any other country stipulated in the policy document).  This covers the driver’s legal liability to others, for example, accidental damage to their property or for injuries but, doesn’t cover the driver for loss or damage to their own car. 

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Fully comprehensive car insurance policies don’t always offer the same level of protection abroad as when driving in the UK.  Therefore, drivers need to check with their insurer to see if their car is covered against fire, theft and/or damage while abroad.  Similarly, motorists shouldn’t assume their UK breakdown cover extends to driving on the continent.

GoCompare Car Insurance compared2 the foreign use cover on 350 comprehensive car insurance policies. Most (88%) automatically provide the same level of cover in Europe, however, 8% only provide comprehensive cover for an additional premium while 3% cannot be upgraded.  Typically, policies cap the number of days you can drive abroad in a year and limit the consecutive number of days in any one trip. The comparison revealed a dramatic variation in the number of permitted foreign use days from eight to 365. 

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Speed limits, traffic signals and priorities, local rules on alcohol limits, safety equipment and even requirements for travelling with children (e.g. age limits for car seats and position in the car) differ between countries.  So, holidaying motorists could face large on-the-spot fines or run the risk of an otherwise avoidable accident if they fail to properly prepare for their trip.  

Worryingly, the research found that many drivers could find them themselves on the wrong side of the law simply because they don’t know the driving rules of the country they are visiting. Over two thirds (68%) of drivers admitted to that don’t bother check the driving rules and regulations for the country in which they will be driving.  Erroneously, 15% think that driving regulations are the same everywhere, while 27% believe that all that they need to do when driving their own car in Europe is to attach a GB or EU sticker to the boot and headlamp converters on to their headlights. 

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To help drivers prepare for their journey, GoCompare has produced an interactive European driving guide.  Country by country, the guide provides essential information on a wide variety of motoring-related matters – from driving licence requirements, fuel availability, motoring fines, to speed-limits and compulsory equipment.

Lee Griffin, CEO and founder of GoCompare, commented, “After months of lockdown restrictions, many people are eager to get away on holiday, some of whom are planning a road trip to avoid flying because of the pandemic.  Driving on the right-hand side of unfamiliar roads, in a country with unfamiliar language, can be a challenge.  So, preparation is vital to make driving abroad both an enjoyable and safe experience. 

“As part of your holiday preparations you should take the time to familiarise yourself with the local driving rules and regulations of the country you are visiting.  Being able to recognise and understand road signs and, knowing what equipment and documents you’re supposed to carry will help to ensure that you’re driving safely and legally.”

Lee Griffin continued, “Car insurance policies vary widely in the availability of cover for driving in continental Europe so it’s essential to speak to their insurer to make sure you have the cover you need.  In the event of an accident or mechanical breakdown, not being fully covered could not only ruin your holiday but leave you with a big bill to get your family and your car back home.”

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