How to steer clear of the motoring minefields

George Campbell highlights the perils of having to make an unscheduled pitstop in foreign territory

Whether you are only making a day trip across the Channel to France, driving on business or holidaying overseas, both the AA and the RAC reckon it is vital that you take out full insurance cover before setting off.

If not, the consequences could prove expensive, particularly if you are involved in an accident or if your car is stolen.

A breakdown requiring recovery from Rome to London, can cost more than pounds 1,000, for instance.

"Even basic roadside assistance can cost an average of pounds 90 when you're abroad," says the RAC.

Staying abroad while your vehicle is repaired is not a cheap solution. Hiring a car for seven days costs pounds 400 on average, while freighting repair parts from the UK could add a further pounds 114 to your final bill.

Personal repatriation due to vehicle breakdown, theft or driver illness is even more costly. A party of four from Rome to London can expect fares of between pounds 800 and pounds 1,200. Should expert medical help and a fully equipped flying ambulance be required, then costs rocket.

Your UK motor-insurance policy will already cover you to drive abroad, but it only provides the minimum cover required by law in the EC region and does not include theft, fire or damage to your vehicle, and may not completely cover your liability to other people. So it's wise to ensure that you have the same level of cover when abroad as you have in the UK.

AA Insurance highlights the fact that one in four insurance companies make a charge to extend cover abroad. On average, this is a flat fee of pounds 21, but some insurers charge as much as pounds 24 plus a 70p a day surcharge, bringing the cost of a two-week trip to pounds 33.80p

Among the cheapest deals at the moment are those offered by Eagle Star Direct and Zurich Municipal, which include 60 days overseas cover in their policies. By contrast, Direct Line charges pounds 31 a month.

"The whole issue is a minefield for the consumer," says AA Insurance man Andrew Howard. He advises policy-holders when comparing general motor premiums from one company to the next, to check that they won't be asked to stump up extra premiums every time they take their car abroad.

The RAC is calling on the insurance industry to issue annual cover for Europe as part of any motoring policy.

Ask your insurer for a Green Card before you go. It provides no cover in itself, but is widely accepted by authorities abroad as cover provided by your policy. The RAC's insurance compliance manager, Nigel Richardson, said: "It's becoming less important to carry a Green Card within the EU, but some countries and some insurers still insist on it or will limit cover to the legal minimum required in the country in which the vehicle is being driven."

The Green Card can also save time and frustration if there is an accident, as police officers throughout Europe can easily recognise it.

The RAC issues 58,000 policies every year, yet still receives calls from British motorists having problems in continental Europe and don't possess comprehensive motoring or personal cover.

Insurance adviser James Wootten stresses the need to examine your policy carefully before the holiday because a policy that appears cheaper than its rivals it can turn out to be more expensive if key benefits that a competitor offers cheaper, or free, are taken into account.

"Most insurance companies will penalise you if you switch mid-year, but if you ask them for extra cover when you renew your policy, you should get an attractive offer and, in many cases, it could be free."

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

    Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

    Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

    £45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project