Motoring overseas? Then get your cover up to speed

Many drivers wrongly assume their policy provides comprehensive protection in Europe. Laura Harding shows how to get a continental upgrade

If you are one of the three million British drivers heading off to the Continent this summer, ready to explore in the comfort of an air-conditioned car, make sure your cover is as good as the scenery.

The most common mistake is to assume your fully comprehensive insurance will cover you in the Tuscan countryside or the French Riviera.

All UK car policies provide the minimum protection required by law in some EU countries, which is road traffic accident cover. So even if you have the most comprehensive insurance at home with firms such as esure, Direct Line, Swiftcover, Barclays or Admiral, you may only have third-party insurance abroad. If you hit another vehicle or cause injury, you will not have your own costs covered, only those of the third party.

Peter Gerrard, head of insurance at price-comparison site, says British motorists often take it for granted they have more protection than that. "Never assume you are covered abroad – always check your policy. It's very easy to think that because you have paid your premium, your insurance will be valid overseas."

Most car insurers can easily upgrade your policy so that when you drive in continental Europe, you are covered to the same extent as you are in the UK. This, though, comes at a price. Norwich Union charges £25 for a year's cover for trips not exceeding 90 days, while a typical add-on with Direct Line costs around £19, based on a 36-year-old driving a Ford Fiesta. The RAC will upgrade basic cover for £25 per year to offer the same level of protection in most European countries as customers receive in the UK.

Tesco also offers a comprehensive add-on to UK insurance. The policy includes roadside assistance and recovery, emergency repairs, a replacement vehicle while the car is off the road, delivery of replacement parts, legal advice and expenses, and help if the driver is ill. For up to eight days the package costs £45, increasing to £65 for a trip of up to 22 days. Meanwhile, for an additional cost of up to £23, esure, Direct Line, Swiftcover and Barclays will upgrade your policy to cover you for up to 90 days in Europe. Admiral will insure you for 30 days.

But for full peace of mind you could check out the Post Office, Marks & Spencer, Churchill, Endsleigh and the AA, all of which automatically apply the same level of cover when you're driving in Europe as you enjoy in the UK.

Don't forget to take your insurer's contact details when you go on holiday; in the event of an emergency, you will need to get in touch.

If you're venturing further than the EU, you will need a green card from your insurer. This is a document recognised internationally as proof of your insurance and it specifies that your cover meets local legislation. Some firms levy a nominal fee for supplying the card.

Should you decide to rent a car instead of taking your own vehicle abroad, the price will include fully comprehensive insurance – but be aware of an inflated excess charge. This varies from country to country but can be as steep as £1,000 on the Continent. The specialist provider says almost four out of 10 holidaymakers are unaware they could be liable for such costs if they have an accident.

"If you rent a car you will automatically get insurance, but you should be wary of excesses," says Mr Gerrard at "You might want to buy an excess waiver policy, where you pay a bit extra but then will not face an excess if you make a claim."

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Law Costs

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?