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How to prepare for driving abroad this summerBack

As millions of Brits motor abroad for their summer holidays, nearly a fifth admit to feeling anxious about driving in a foreign country.

From driving on the other side of the road, to different road signs, rules and regulations, driving abroad can be daunting. Only 39 per cent of drivers headed abroad this year said they felt confident about their road-trip.

The research commissioned by GoCompare Car Insurance found that women are more nervous about driving abroad than men.

Make sure you’re prepared for driving abroad this summer:

Check driving laws

While 65 per cent of motorists say they always check the driving regulations and requirements for the country they will be driving in, 16 per cent believe that driving regulations are ‘much the same everywhere’.  One in 10 drivers admitted to having been stopped by the police while driving overseas.

As well as checking which side of the road to drive on, you should also look at the speed limits, what paper or documentation is required by law, alcohol limits and other important rules and regulations.

Matt Oliver, spokesperson for GoCompare Car Insurance, said: “Some motorists could be adding to the stress of driving on unfamiliar roads by not preparing properly before heading off overseas.

“Driving rules and regulations including speed limits, traffic signals and priorities differ from one country to the next.  So, it’s essential that drivers swot-up to make sure they stay safe and stay legal.  Our interactive driving map enables drivers to check the key motoring laws of European countries they are planning to visit.”

Make sure you’re covered

Having an accident or break-down can be stressful enough in the UK but, when it happens abroad it’s important to know you’re insured.  UK car insurance usually provides the minimum compulsory insurance cover to drive in other EU countries.  However, policies don’t necessarily offer the same level of protection as in the UK – potentially leaving some motorists unwittingly with third-party only insurance.

GoCompare’s research revealed that only 29 per cent of drivers taking their car abroad check they have fully comprehensive cover; just over a quarter (26 per cent) said they always arrange European breakdown cover.

An analysis of 263 comprehensive car insurance policies found that while the majority (89 per cent) provide cover for foreign use as standard, 10 per cent only provide full cover as an optional extra, for which a fee was payable.  Three polices provided no overseas cover at all.  Policies varied widely in the length of time European car cover was valid for – from only eight days to 365 days in a year.

Don’t assume your breakdown cover extends to driving overseas. While 11 per cent of the policies reviewed provide EU cover, 46 per cent exclude this protection and cover can be added to the remaining 43 per cent of policies for an extra premium.

Mr Oliver added: “If you’re driving your own car abroad, don’t assume your car insurance automatically gives you the same level of protection as you have in the UK.  Call your car insurer to discuss your plans and, if necessary, upgrade your policy to foreign-use cover which will provide comprehensive cover to drive in Europe.  Otherwise, if your car is stolen or damaged – you could be in for a very nasty and very expensive shock.”

Other top tips for driving abroad:

  • Always check what compulsory in-car equipment you will need in the country you are driving to.
  • Make sure you have all the information you will need to drive abroad in one folder, to include where to go for help should you get into any difficulties on the road.
  • Make sure you’ve fully prepared your car before a trip abroad, for example, if its due a service, get this booked in before you go. Check tyre pressures and top up your oil.
  • Some countries require the appropriate country identification numbers to be displayed on your vehicle, for example the GB sticker needs to be displayed if you’re travelling from the UK.
  • Create a breakdown kit, including a fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, torch, blanket, warning triangle and reflective jacket, a jack and wheel removal tools in case of a puncture.

Posted by Beth Rose on 07/07/2017