Uncertainty of driving abroad

As millions of Brits motor abroad for their summer holidays, nearly a fifth (19%) admit to feeling anxious about driving in a foreign country.

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

The research commissioned by GoCompare Car Insurance found that women (25%) are more nervous about driving abroad than men (16%).

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

Having an accident or breakdown 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% of drivers taking their car abroad check they have fully comprehensive cover; just over a quarter (26%) said they always arrange European breakdown cover.

An analysis of 263 comprehensive car insurance policies found that while the majority (89%) provide cover for foreign use as standard, 10% 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. Drivers shouldn’t also assume that their breakdown cover extends to driving overseas. While 11% of the policies reviewed provide EU cover, 46% exclude this protection and cover can be added to the remaining 43% of policies for an extra premium.

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.

‘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.’