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Expat Investor : May June 2008
INSURANCE 10 EXPAT INVESTOR ? May/June 2008 Driving in the dark As many as 17.2million Brits don’t know if their car insurance covers them abroad. uSwitch.com urges motorists to make sure they’re covered before they set off. without getting their insurance lined up properly beforehand. This is a classic case of ‘know before you go’. “Many providers demand extra payment from drivers to take out insurance for overseas use. Even if a policy does extend to cover driving abroad, motorists need to be aware that insurers often limit the number of days that a car can be driven abroad in any one year, and that sometimes you cannot use this allowance in one go – you have to return to the UK in between.” Policies can vary, with some insurers offering up to 365 days a year for free to cover trips abroad, while other providers offer just a few days. Making sure the car insurance is up to scratch may be even more vital, as the euphoria of a holiday seems to bring out the less responsible side of British motorists. When driving abroad, one in 10 (2.8 million) are more likely to break the local speed limit, and four per cent of drivers admit they would talk on a mobile phone without a hands-free set or would not bother to wear a seatbelt. “Motorists really have two choices – they should either check which providers will cover them fully for driving abroad before buying car insurance or, at the very least, pull out their current car insurance policy and check the small print before they go away. If in any doubt, call your insurer before you get behind the wheel,” concludes Mr Thompson. Top tips for Brits driving abroad Before you head off on your trip, check with your insurer that you have sufficient cover for driving your car while abroad and ensure that your policy includes comprehensive ‘foreign use’. Check also the number of days – consecutively and in total in any year – that you are covered for driving abroad, as these can vary from one policy to another. Some insurers will charge a flat fee if you want to upgrade your cover abroad, others will rate the charge on a number of factors. When getting a new insurance quote, ask for a quote with and without cover abroad to find out the cost of adding the additional policy feature and to draw a like-for-like comparison between insurers. If you intend to visit countries which are not included within the insurer’s normal territorial limits (namely outside the EU), a Green Card may be required. Some insurers do not offer roadside assistance insurance in the UK, let alone European breakdown, so you may need to purchase this separately. Europe has strict drink driving laws, at least as strict as in the UK, and in most countries stricter. Seat belts front and rear are obligatory everywhere. Speed limits are implemented rigorously and radar traps are frequent. In France, anyone caught travelling at more than 25km/h above the speed limit can have their licence confiscated on the spot. ? Uncovered: one in ten British drivers think travel insurance covers them for driving abroad. ? Unaware: two out of three don’t realise that many car insurance providers only offer third party cover overseas, regardless of the policy terms in the UK. ? Accidents waiting to happen: 2.8 million are breaking speed limits abroad. ? Unsafe: one million fail to wear a seatbelt or to go hands-free for mobile calls when driving abroad. The British are ‘driving in the dark’ when they take their car overseas, as two-thirds (68%) have absolutely no idea what they are covered for by their insurer. Research by uSwitch.com, the independent online comparison and switching service, also reveals that one in 10 (2.5 million) drivers wrongly think they are covered by their travel insurance for any motoring mishaps they have when they take their car abroad. uSwitch.com warns drivers planning a trip abroad that their domestic fully comprehensive car insurance cover will not automatically extend outside the UK. Under EU law providers only have to offer minimum cover, which is third party only. Basic third party insurance only covers the damage you cause to another vehicle or driver – it does not cover against theft, accidental damage to your car or injury to yourself. In some cases, a policy can be upgraded to fully comprehensive insurance, but drivers will incur an additional cost if it is for longer than the free period offered by the provider. And be warned, research by uSwitch.com has found that few major providers automatically offer more than three days cover for free whilst driving abroad. Aron Thompson, Head of Insurance, says, “This is a major issue for holidaymakers, as they can end up facing an unpaid claim if they drive their car abroad expatinvestor.com
July August 2008