Money Matters Team

Top tips for driving in Europe

By Money Matters Team 12/06/2013

Hitting the road this summer?

Take your own car on the trip of a lifetime.

If you're one of the 10 million people who will travel abroad by car this summer, as reported by, it's time to start getting prepared.

Taking your own car abroad – six useful facts

1. Are you insured to drive in the country? Some policies will insure you to drive in EU and certain non EU countries too for a particular time period; it's best to check with your insurer to see which countries and the duration of time away you're covered for, in case you need extra cover for your chosen destination or length of stay.

2. What level of car insurance do you have for driving abroad? reports that many drivers assume they're automatically covered for driving abroad when, in many cases, they might only have basic Road Traffic Accident (RTA) insurance.

3. Fast fact: Did you know? ? Some cover levels are based on the time spent abroad and the car’s insurance grouping.

4. You may have to inform your car insurer that you're going abroad; they may also be able to tell you which aspects you're covered for – and extra cover levels.

5. According to research published on, almost half of the drivers surveyed were unprepared to take to the roads abroad, having done nothing towards learning about local driving laws.

6. It may be tempting to drive to the ferry terminal or Eurotunnel thinking you have the right car insurance cover for your trip away but it's always best to check. And, where paperwork is concerned, the research showed that 63% of people revealed they would set off without checking if they have the valid paperwork for driving their car in another country. 

How can you prepare for driving overseas?

• Work out how long your journey might take, remembering to take any rush hour periods into account.

• Do you know foreign rules of the road? In France, for example, you must now carry a breathalyser in your car. A fine of 11 Euros can be imposed on those found driving without one.

• The Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers a handy interactive resource where you can find road regulations by country.

European Breakdown cover

You may have broken down, but what if your language skills break down too? It could be worth checking whether your policy covers breakdown costs if your car becomes acquainted with the hard shoulder. Some policies may include European breakdown cover as standard or you may be able to add it as an optional extra.

What to look out for

• Protect you, not just your car; personal cover provides assistance, whether you're in your own car or someone else's.

• Protection – a fee for replacement car costs, or rebooking travel tickets if your car breaks down up to seven days before you leave.

Remember, driving abroad doesn't have to drive you up the wall. A little preparation and anticipating the unexpected could help ensure your trip abroad is the holiday you wished for…  

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.