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A Risk-Free Road Trip

May 29, 2007

HOLIDAYMAKERS taking their cars abroad this summer need to watch out their insurance may not cover them if they break down or have an accident.

According to research by Marks Spencer Money, only one in five drivers taking their cars to the Continent were covered if their vehicle broke down last summer and only a third were insured if they pranged their car or it was stolen.

Most motorists do not realise that their comprehensive policy will not automatically extend to driving outside the UK and that only one in ten policies includes European breakdown cover.

As car insurance becomes more competitive, these extras are often stripped out.

Yet the average cost of breaking down abroad is Pounds 680. Your insurance policy will provide only third party cover the minimum legal requirement when driving on the Continent.

And comprehensive policies from the AA, Esure, Churchill and Endsleigh will still apply on the Continent.

MS Money's motor insurance includes comprehensive and breakdown cover as standard.

With all these policies you need to check how many days you are covered. Most apply for up to 90, but some restrict you to 30.

You also need to be sure which countries are included. Those in the EU are the norm as well as Switzerland.

You can also add comprehensive cover abroad relatively cheaply.

'It's worth considering as thieves often target cars with foreign number plates,' says Richard Mason of comparison website 'There's also a greater risk of having an accident when you're driving in unfamiliar places on the wrong side of the road.' And for the majority of policies which do not include European breakdown cover for free, you can buy it from the insurer or the AA and RAC as stand-alone policies.

The AA charges Pounds 64.80 for a twoweek holiday for a family of four in mainland Europe and Pounds 117 for annual cover where one trip can last up to 90 days. Members will get a discount.

The RAC's breakdown cover includes you and up to seven passengers in 47 countries.

The cost depends on the number of people travelling, the age of your Compare overseas car, the countries you are driving through and the dates you are away, but policies start from Pounds 10 a day.

Again there are discounts for members and both the AA and RAC have 10 pc discounts for those buying online.

Breakdown cover includes help at the roadside, taking the car to a garage, repairs, emergency accommodation and car hire as well as getting you and your vehicle home if necessary.

For those who often drive to a holiday home, it is worth comparing the cost of policies with and without breakdown and comprehensive cover.

MS Money's motor policy, for instance, which includes both, charges Pounds 255 for a 45-year-old womanwith a 2005 Ford Focus living in Chester with a Pounds 250 excess. Direct Line would charge Pounds 181.65 for the same policy, plus Pounds 113.40 for a year's European breakdown cover and Pounds 23.10 for comprehensive EU cover for nine to 17 days.

You no longer need a green card if you're driving in EU countries and Switzerland, nor do you need an international driving licence if you'll be staying in the EU.

Do tell your insurer before taking your car across the Channel.

'Some insurers don't like you going abroad at all withyour car,' says Ian Crowder of the AA.

'If you are under 21, most insurers will not provide comprehensive cover for the Continent.' [email protected]

Compare overseas roadside policies at insurancefinder WHAT YOU NEED WHEN DRIVING ABROAD

A VALID full driving licence with paper counterpart if you have a photocard.

THE original vehicle registration document.

YOUR motor insurance certificate.

A GB sticker or EU number plates which include the GB symbol.

ADJUST your headlamp beam so that it doesn't dazzle oncoming drivers..

A SPARE set of car keys.

IN CERTAIN countries you need: TWO reflective jackets or waistcoats they are compulsory in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Croatia.

AWARNING triangle needed in most countries and you need two when in Spain.

A FIRST aid kit in Austria..

(c) 2007 Daily Mail; London (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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