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Am I automatically insured

to drive my car in Europe

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If your car is insured in the UK you're automatically insured under European Law. However, take note the cover is only the minimum of 3rd party fire and theft.

What is 3rd party insurance cover

3rd party insurance is where only the other person's car (or cars in case of a multiple pileup) is insured if you cause the accident. Plus, as the name suggests cover is also offered if you car is stolen or catches fire.

Basically your insurer pays the costs for the other vehicle but you have to pay for your own repairs which could be extremely expensive, especially if your car is written off.

But if you're in an accident caused by another driver's then their insurance will pay for your damages.

How to get fully comprehensive insurance when driving in Europe

Most car insurance firms will offer fully comprehensive cover for a small fee but this will usually be for a set period of time, say 2 weeks or 1 month.

Some firms, notably SAGA offer free European insurance as part of their standard policy. Useful if you spend a lot of time in Europe.

Finally, it's always a good idea to phone your insurance company when heading abroad to -

a) let them know, and
b) make sure there are not any conditions or other important points to note

Don't disregard this point because there have been some horror stories in the past where -

  • People had an accident when on holiday
  • Thought they were covered
  • But the terms & conditions indicated the insurance company had to be notified when the car was taken outside of the country otherwise no automatic cover
European Breakdown insurance is also a good idea

Having broken down on the motorway in Belgium at 8pm on a winter's night I can fully vouch for getting European breakdown cover. Both the AA and RAC offer this as an add-on to their standard UK policies but personally I think they're too expensive whether for the UK or abroad.

I use QuoteLineDirect for around £60 per year which covers me for breakdowns in the UK and includes up to 90 days European breakdown cover with no trip lasting more than 30 days.

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