RSS Feed

Related Articles

Related Categories

The motoring tourist traps in Europe

6th August 2014 Print

British tourists could face bills or fines that run into the thousands as almost one in 10 (9%) will go on a self-drive holiday this year and may unknowingly set off without the correct insurance, breakdown cover or equipment.

NFU Mutual received 156 claims for Continental Roadside Assistance in the last 12 months alone and without specific cover; motorists could face an average bill of £1,000.

29% of people who have been on a self-drive holiday in the past experienced issues, including an accident or breakdown, a traffic or parking fine or a near miss.

Many would have been financially and legally at risk as 10% didn't inform their insurer or roadside assistance company they were driving outside the UK and 6% didn't think to check what additional legally required vehicle equipment they needed (e.g. reflective triangle, headlight dimmers etc.).

Younger drivers are most at risk; 52% of 18-24 year olds and 50% of 25-34 year olds reported experiencing problems while driving on the continent and a quarter of 18-24 year olds failed to inform their insurer or roadside assistance company in advance, and 15% received a ticket/fine/warning.

Victoria Walton, Motor Insurance Specialist at NFU Mutual comments: “Anyone planning a self-drive trip to Europe this summer must check both their insurance and breakdown cover extends to European travel. Our motor policies provide this cover as standard, however some do not and you risk being seriously out of pocket and more importantly breaking the law without the adequate cover.

“There are also lots of different laws that come into place when you drive in continental Europe and they vary from country to country, so be wary.

“You may not know that it is the law to carry a breathalyser in France, illegal to use a hands-free kit in Spain and compulsory that drivers who wear glasses carry a spare pair in their vehicle in Italy and Spain.

“British tourists are also at risk of serious fines if they drive wearing flip-flops or do not indicate on the motorway in Spain.”

NFU Mutual’s check list for driving in Europe:

Check with your insurer if you are covered for European travel as standard, if not you will need to add it on for the duration of your trip.

Check that your breakdown cover includes Europe and make sure you understand the terms of cover – will they recover your car but leave you to make your own way home?

Make sure you display a GB sticker on your car.

Always carry both parts of your driving license, insurance certificate and V5 registration documents.

Make sure you have spare headlamp bulbs as they may be difficult to source outside of the UK and are a legal requirement in France.

Check which extra items you are required to carry in the countries you will be travelling through. Most countries require a first aid kit, extinguisher, warning triangle and bright hazard jacket but they do vary, check

Ensure you plan your journey and take note of your route should you need to inform authorities of your location.

Remember the general emergency number in Europe is 112.

When travelling from one country to another, don’t get caught out – you’ll need to be aware of the laws for all countries.

Keep the number of your European breakdown service and insurer in your vehicle.