Car insurance for driving in Europe


More than 2 million holidaymakers will drive their cars overseas for a cheaper summer holiday thinking that they are fully insured – but the chances are they won’t be.

Around a third of drivers believe that because they pay for comprehensive cover at home, they have the same benefits when driving abroad.

But most insurers include small print in the policy that reduces cover as soon as you drive on the train or ferry.

Some car insurance firms do not differentiate between driving at home or overseas – these include the AA, Marks & Spencer and Endsleigh, providing the cover is needed for less than 90 days, which is obviously plenty of time for that summer break.

Check  your policy small print

 Many more offer one of two levels of cover –

  • Either the minimum car insurance cover required by law in the country where the motorist is driving
  • Or third party cover only

Several european countries, including the UK, set minimum car insurance cover at third party – including the main ferry port landing places of France and Belgium.

If you know you are likely to drive your own car overseas when you renew your cover, look for a policy that offers enhanced protection while outside the UK or the option to upgrade for a reasonable charge.

Breakdown cover in Europe

Hiring a car while overseas does not count as the car hire firm will arrange local insurance that meets at least the minimum legal requirement in that country.

Regular overseas drivers, commercial drivers or motorists with caravans or camper vans should consider taking out specialist cover in the UK for trips abroad.

Another point to check is breakdown cover. Not all European countries have the same ‘open all hours’ ethic as the UK, so getting a tow or roadside assistance can be hit and miss.

The AA and RAC offer european breakdown cover, but only if you arrange the policy – a polite euphemism for ‘pay for’ – before you leave the UK.

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2 Responses to Car insurance for driving in Europe

  1. Mike says:

    Some really useful advice, something I can pass onto my students.

  2. elcamo says:

    Very interesting indeed.
    Do you know by any chance which insurer would provide a full cover for a car that stays abroad all year long?
    I know 90 days is the usual limit but I’m interested in more.
    Thanks
    J.

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