Check your car insurance before driving abroad, urges M&S Bank

19 Jul, 2017

M&S Bank is urging holidaymakers to check their car insurance policy before hitting the roads this summer as research reveals that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of those planning to drive their car in mainland Europe believe they either aren’t, or don’t know if they are, insured to drive in the EU.

When it comes to breakdown cover, more than a third (34%) either don’t know, or say they wouldn’t be covered, if they broke down on one of mainland Europe’s roads this summer. While many policies will offer some form of cover when driving in the EU, the level of protection offered may not be the same as when driving in the UK.

M&S Bank research into car insurance amongst British motorists planning to drive on the Continent this summer revealed that, of those planning to drive in mainland Europe, the vast majority (96 per cent) said that their main purpose for taking to these roads was for a holiday, mini-break, or to visit friends / family.

Paul Stokes, Head of Products at M&S Bank, said: “As British holidaymakers get ready to take to Europe’s roads this summer, it’s important that they check whether they have adequate car insurance, but also breakdown cover in place, before they go on holiday, as some policies don’t offer like-for-like cover outside of the UK; only then will they have total peace of mind, should the worst happen.”

In addition, more than a quarter (26 per cent) either don’t plan to, or don’t know if they will familiarise themselves with the driving rules and regulations of the country they are in, with more than one in ten (11 per cent) saying they don’t have time and six per cent believing that driving in the mainland Europe is the same as driving in the UK.

However, many drivers may be surprised to find that driving regulations can differ widely across many EU countries. For example, if you are travelling in France, vehicles driving through Paris, Lyon and Grenoble must display a ‘Vignette’ (sticker) in the windscreen due to recently introduced low emission zones; failure to purchase and display the vignette when driving in these areas could result in fine between €68 and €135.

In addition, if you are travelling in Austria or Croatia, you would need to carry a first aid kit and warning triangle at all times, while those who require glasses for driving must always ensure they carry a spare pair with them when driving on Portuguese roads.

Paul Stokes continued: “Self-drive holidays are a popular option for many British tourists, so we would urge motorists to do some research into the driving laws of all the countries they will be travelling to before setting off.

“As part of their research, drivers should also consider the length of time they will be away; while some insurance policies include extended EU travel cover as standard, drivers should not assume this is always the case. By taking the necessary precautions before setting off, motorists can help to avoid unnecessary stress and further delays on the roads.”

Top tips for driving overseas this summer:

  • Check the car before setting off, ensuring the oil, screen wash, coolant and tyre pressures are at the correct levels
  • Plan your journey beforehand so you know exactly which regions / countries you’ll be travelling through and then familiariseyourself with the local driving laws
  • Have a travel guide to hand that contains local phrases in case you need to ask for directions or for recommendations of places to stop
  • Make sure you have some local currency to pay for toll booths etc.
  • Bring games / entertainment when travelling with children to ensure they are kept occupied and do not distract the driver
  • Have refreshments in the car to avoid dehydration in the heat