Do the continental with insurance

Cruising down a French motorway heading towards the Med, with the sunroof open and your music playing may seem like a good way to avoid the stress of Terminal 5.

But you could find yourself getting hot under the collar if you don’t check out whether your car insurance covers your Grande Vacance.

Insurer says, "Non"

It’s a little known fact that of the 150 or so car insurance policies available; almost one in ten will not cover you for driving on the continent. This means that if you were to be involved in an accident or to have your car stolen then you would receive no compensation and may have to pick up expensive legal bills yourself.

It isn’t just the smaller providers who may fail to cover you, at the same level you enjoy in the UK, when abroad. Insurers such as Diamond and Norwich Union have policies which will not cover a continental jaunt.

To Bucharest and back…

There are of course insurers who will cover you on the continent. Be careful when reading through your policy to check the number of days free cover you can get as a small number of providers offer just three days, while others offer less than a month.

Most will offer 90 days or more and some are generous enough to offer an unlimited number of days, meaning that you’ll be able to drive leisurely to Bucharest and back if the mood takes you.

Broken in Berlin

It’s important to remember that car insurance isn’t the same as breakdown cover. If you want to be covered against a breakdown then you’ll have to double check your policy to see whether this is included.

The majority of insurers will not offer European breakdown cover as standard, meaning that in most cases you will have to pay extra if you want the peace of mind this service can bring.

Extras don’t come cheap

The limited availability of breakdown cover serves to highlight the fact that if you want all the extras then you’ll have to cough up some extra cash. Services such as windscreen replacement for example will tend to come as standard, but if you pay for a cheaper policy and then need to claim you should expect to pay up to £140 in excess compared to just £40 0r £50 on a more expensive policy.

Courtesy cars are another example of where paying a bit more could save you hours of hassle should you find your car out of action. A number of providers set a limit on the number of days you’ll be able to use a courtesy car free of charge, but if you fork out a bit extra for your policy you should find that your courtesy car is guaranteed until your car is fully repaired.


If you are planning on driving your car abroad then be sure to check out your insurance first but it will pay to check your tyres, oil and take the car into the garage if it’s going to be a long trip. This could save you spending hours at the side of road in a foreign country.

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