Check Your Car Insurance Before Hitting the Roads this Summer

18 Jul 2018 M&S Bank is urging holidaymakers to check their car insurance policy before driving abroad this summer as research* reveals that nearly half (48 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 half (56 per cent) either don’t know if they are, 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, nearly all (97 per cent) said their main purpose for taking to these roads was for their main holiday (61 per cent), mini-break (27 per cent), or to visit friends / family (8 per cent).

Paul Stokes, Head of Products at M&S Bank, said: “Self-drive holidays are an increasingly popular option for many British holidaymakers, with nearly a third planning to drive in Europe over the next 12 months, compared to 11 per cent in 2017.

“However, before they take to Europe’s roads this summer, it’s important that they check whether they have adequate car insurance, and 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 one in ten either don’t plan to, or don’t know if they will familiarise themselves with the road rules and regulations of the country they are driving in, with 11 per cent saying they don’t have time and three per cent believing that driving in 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 regions such as Paris and Toulouse must display a ‘Vignette’ (sticker) in the windscreen due to 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 Croatia, not only would you need to carry a first aid kit and warning triangle at all times, you must use dipped headlights in the daytime from the last Sunday in October to the last Sunday in March, while those driving on Spanish roads and who require glasses, must always ensure that they carry a spare pair with them.

Paul Stokes continued: “As well as doing their homework into the driving laws of all the countries they will be travelling to before setting off, we would urge drivers to also consider the length of time they will be away, as part of their research; 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.”

M&S Car Insurance policies include travel cover within the EU for up to 90 days in any single cover period***. M&S Premier Car Insurance customers also benefit from UK and European breakdown cover, covering the policyholder not just their car.

Top tips for driving overseas this summer:

  • Check your car before setting off, ensuring the oil, screen wash, coolant and tyre pressures are all at the correct levels
  • Plan your journey beforehand so you know exactly which regions / countries you’ll be travelling through and then familiarise yourself 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
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