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How to make sure you're insured when driving a car abroad

Love getting behind the wheel and exploring new places when you’re abroad? If so, it’s worth checking you’re covered before you jump into the driving seat.

Driving your own car

Where are you travelling to? Some countries may be covered on your policy, while others may not be. Most insurance policies will allow you to drive in European countries, but double check, as some only give you third party cover. This is the legal minimum level of car insurance.

If you only have third party insurance, and you were in an accident that was your fault, your insurer would pay to fix the other car or property, but you’d have to pay for all the damage to your own car. Plus, if your car was stolen or damaged while you were abroad, you wouldn’t receive a penny. With that in mind, you might want to speak to your insurer to see if you can pay extra to upgrade your cover. Make a note of the phone number you’d need to make a claim or get advice while you’re away – just in case.

If you have our car insurance, you’ll be pleased to know we offer fully comprehensive cover for up to 90 days in Europe and selected other counties, though terms and conditions apply.

You should also contact your breakdown cover provider, to let them know about your travel plans, and make sure you’re covered if you breakdown. Being stranded in a foreign country, would not only be stressful – you might have to pay a substantial amount to be rescued.

Driving a hire car

When it comes to hiring a car, always check what’s included. In most counties, you’ll be expected to have three types of basic cover – cover for theft, cover for damage and cover for injury or property. Most car hire companies will include all three in their fee, but do your homework.

Other requirements

You should always have your driving licence with you and, if you’ll be driving outside of Europe, you'll need an International Driving Permit (IDP) too. You can buy one from the Post Office, the RAC or the AA, for £5.50 – as long as you’re aged eighteen or over.

If you’ll be driving on the opposite side of the road to the UK, don’t forget to fit a beam converter kit to your lights, so you don’t dazzle other drivers.

You’ll need a Green Card with you if you’re visiting Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Israel, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey or Ukraine. In other European countries you won’t need this document, which proves you’re insured to drive, although it is useful if you have an accident as it makes exchanging details much easier.

To find out more about the Green Card system, click here >

It’s always best to be prepared, so it’s a good idea to have a first aid kid, red warning triangle, torch, reflective jacket, tool kit and fire extinguisher in your boot. The chances of needing them might be slim, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Some countries make carrying them a legal requirement, so double check before you travel.