Driving in Europe: Your insurance needs

A camper vanA road trip can be a great way to see more of the Continent, while driving to a European holiday destination is often cheaper and less hassle than taking a plane.

But an estimated one in 10 Britons who drive overseas have some sort of accident while away, so it is vital to check your insurance before heading off.

What cover do I need to drive on the Continent?
The most basic level of cover for driving on the Continent is known as an international motor insurance certificate, or a 'Green Card', which your UK insurer should be able to provide on request.

You would be expected to present your Green Card if you were involved in an accident while in Europe, so it is important to contact your insurer to get yours before setting off.

However, a Green Card is the lowest level of European car insurance, and may offer less than third party cover in some countries.

Am I not covered by my UK policy then?
While certain insurers such as Endsleigh provide their fully comprehensive policyholders with cover for 90 days of driving in Europe, other insurers automatically downgrade policies to the minimum level – normally third party only.

If you do not get it as standard, you will therefore need to pay for it, while even those who are covered will need to contact their insurers to activate the insurance.

The cost will depend largely on the same factors that decide your standard premiums. In other words, the age, make and model of your car and how long you have been driving will all play a part.

However, the price will also be affected by the length of your trip. If you are only going abroad for three days, for example, Churchill will provide comprehensive cover free of charge.

Anything else I should know?
Some European car insurance policies will only cover you in countries that belong to the European Union, so don't forget to check that the countries you plan on visiting are included.

You should also make sure that the cover provided by the policy lasts for long enough to cover your entire trip - especially if you are away for more than 30 days.