There is a lot to consider when you compare van insurance online including the cover features available and the premiums you will have to pay. However, one vital feature that is often overlooked by van drivers is whether or not their insurance will cover them abroad.
Van insurance considerations
Before securing van insurance for driving overseas, you need to ensure you have suitable cover at home. Van insurance has been a legal requirement since the Road Traffic Act was introduced in 1930 and broadly there are three types of policy available. These are:
– Third party only: Covers liability for injuries to others, including passengers, as well as damage to others’ property and liability while towing a caravan or trailer.
– Third party, fire and theft: Everything included in third party only, plus cover for theft of your own vehicle, damages suffered during an attempted theft and fire damage.
– Comprehensive: Third party, fire and theft cover plus cover for loss or damage obtained by your own vehicle as a result of an accident, subject to exclusions. Policies vary but typically include windscreen cover, medical expenses, accidental damage cover and cover for personal effects.
What about van insurance overseas?
When driving overseas you will usually only be offered third party cover, regardless of the level of cover you have at home, unless otherwise specified in your insurance documents.
Usually this cover will apply in the member countries of the European Union (EU), plus the following non-EU countries: Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. However, don’t assume that you are covered in all of these countries without checking first.
You can also obtain a Green Card from your van insurance provider which will typically be recognised in around 40 countries. This indicates that you have the minimum level of cover required by law in the country that you are visiting.
What if you want comprehensive cover when driving in Europe?
If you have comprehensive van insurance at home and also want comprehensive van insurance in Europe, then you must check the terms and conditions of your insurance policy carefully.
In most cases this level of cover is only available as an add-on to a policy meaning you will have to pay an additional premium.
Even if the cover is offered as standard, there will still usually be limitations that apply. Firstly, there may be country restrictions – for example, you may get the same level of cover in France and Germany but not in Eastern European countries. There may also be a cap on the number of days you can spend driving abroad. This can range from as little as just two or three days, to 30 days or even 90 days during a single year. Indeed even if the policy allows you to spend an unlimited amount of time driving abroad, there may be caps on the number of consecutive days you can spend overseas – again, this could be as little as two or three days.
Should you spend more time overseas than is permitted in your policy your cover level may be reduced to just the minimum legal requirement in that country or you may not be covered at all.
As such, it’s absolutely vital to read the terms and conditions of your van insurance policy before you travel. If you are unsure, then contact the insurer and ask the following questions:
– Do I have sufficient cover to drive my van abroad and will I receive the same level of cover overseas as I do at home? If not, what are the limitations? For example, you may receive breakdown cover at home but not in Europe.
– How many days am I allowed to drive abroad – both over the course of the year and consecutively?
Where can you get suitable van insurance for overseas driving?
Use a comparison website to compare van insurance quotes and features from a range of providers. When obtaining a quote, consider the rates both for driving with and without cover abroad to consider how much extra you’re paying for this policy feature and to draw a direct comparison between providers.
Finally, do your best to avoid van insurance claims abroad. Of course, this means driving safely as you would at home but also bear in mind that there may be additional rules to follow overseas. For example, much of Europe has stricter drink-driving laws than the UK; seat belts in the front and rear are obligatory everywhere; and pay close attention to speed limits – in France for example, anyone caught driving at more than 25km/h above the limit could have their driving licence confiscated on the spot.