Taking your own car on holiday may seem like the easiest option for you but you will need to make sure you have the right insurance cover and documentation to do so. Here’s everything you need to know about driving abroad.

Will my travel insurance cover me for driving abroad?

Yes and no. You will need to speak to your car insurance company to confirm they are happy for you to drive in the country or countries on your itinerary. Your travel insurance is there to cover emergency medical care if you are involved in an accident. Some policies will also offer cover if your car is broken into and your personal possessions are stolen – provided you can prove they were hidden out of sight.

couple driving

Will travel insurance cover me if I get into a car accident abroad?

If, in the unfortunate event you do get into a car accident abroad, some travel insurance companies may pay the below, on top of your emergency medical treatment (amounts will vary):

  • £5,000 if you die (this is often referred to as an accidental death benefit and will be paid to your next of kin)
  • £7,500 if you suffer permanent loss of sight in one eyes or loss of use of one limb.
  • £15,000 for permanent loss of sight in both eyes or loss of use of both arms/hands or legs/feet

It’s worth noting, cover will vary from insurer to insurer, so you should check your policy wording carefully to see what cover you may be entitled to.

If you are involved in a car accident, your travel insurance policy is likely to cover the cost of emergency medical care (exclusions may apply if you are found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, do not have the suitable level of car insurance or if you have put yourself at risk). Generally speaking, medical expenses will be covered up to £10,000,000, and this will include repatriation costs if necessary

If, however, you were in control of the car and you injure someone or damage someone’s property, you will not be covered for ‘Personal Liability’ under your travel insurance – this is an industry wide rule.

If you do get into an accident and cause damage to another individual or someone else’s property, you should contact your car insurance company to see if you are covered for liability with them.

Will travel insurance cover my personal possessions?

Your travel insurance will offer cover the theft of your personal possessions as long as you took all the necessary steps to keep them safe. If you left your possessions in your car unattended and did not hide them out of sight, then it is unlikely that you will be covered by your travel insurance.

What is an ‘International Driving Permit (IDP) and when will I need it?

If you’re driving outside the EU, you may need to apply for an international driving permit (IDP) which will give you permission to drive in over 140 countries, including the USA. You will need this document in addition to your driving license so make sure you have both with you when driving abroad. For some countries, an IDP is a legal requirement whilst others may be a little bit more lenient, but it’s probably best to take both as car rental companies might not let you hire a car without one. Getting an IDP can be pretty handy, especially if you like knowing what you’re doing in advance, the IDP will be valid for a full year from the date of your purchase and you even have the option to delay the start date for up to three months.

If you’re unable to produce an international driving permit alongside your passport depending on the country you may have to pay a hefty fine or your car could get confiscated. No, not a fun situation to be in. To apply for an IDP, you must be over 18 years of age, be a UK resident and hold a full valid driving license.

If you do need an IDP you can only get one from the post office as they are not available online. Your eligibility depends on bringing your driving license, a passport-sized photo that you’ve signed on the back, as well some additional proof of ID.

An IDP will cost £5.50 to purchase, so you’re not going to be out of pocket if you do need to purchase one.

Some countries may require a ‘Green Card’ which you can get from your car insurance company. Your Green Card will act as proof of insurance when you are driving abroad. You can check with your insurer if your policy offers extra cover if your car gets damaged or is stolen whilst your abroad.

Top tips:

  • Although you can get an IPD at 18, some countries will rather you be over the age of 21 to hire a car. Check the advice of the country or countries you are travelling to and see if there are any rules or regulations regarding age.
  • You should also have a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle, even if you have a number plate that includes the GB identifier.
  • It’s also a good idea to get familiar with speed limits and driving rules when driving abroad as they may differ from the ones in the UK.

Before you go

Here are some more articles you might like:

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