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A fifth of drivers worry about driving abroad

03 July 2017
  • 23% of Brits will either drive to the continent this year or hire a car while abroad;
  • 19% of drivers who plan to drive abroad this year say they are anxious about driving in aforeign country;
  • One in ten drivers admitted to being stopped by the police while driving overseas;
  • Only 29% of drivers taking their car overseas check they will be fully covered by their insurer;
  • GoCompare’s interactive European driving map helps motorists drive through Europe.

As millions of Brits motor abroad for their summer holidays, nearly a fifth (19%) admit to feeling anxious about driving in a foreign country.  From driving on the right-hand (‘wrong’) side of the road, to different road signs, rules and regulations, driving abroad can be daunting.  Only 39% of drivers headed abroad this year said they felt confident about their road-trip. 

The research* commissioned by GoCompare Car Insurance found that women (25%) are more nervous about driving abroad than men (16%).        

While many (65%) motorists say they always check the driving regulations and requirements for the country they will be driving in, a minority (16%) believe that driving regulations are ‘much the same everywhere’.  One in ten drivers admitted to having been stopped by the police while driving overseas.

Having an accident or break-down can be stressful enough in the UK but, when it happens abroad it’s important to know you’re insured.  UK car insurance usually provides the minimum compulsory insurance cover to drive in other EU countries.  However, policies don't necessarily offer the same level of protection as in the UK – potentially leaving some motorists unwittingly with third-party only insurance.  GoCompare’s research revealed that only 29% of drivers taking their car abroad check they have fully comprehensive cover; just over a quarter (26%) said they always arrange European breakdown cover.

An analysis** of 263 comprehensive car insurance policies found that while the majority (89%) provide cover for foreign use as standard, 10% only provide full cover as an optional extra, for which a fee was payable.  Three polices provided no overseas cover at all.  Policies varied widely in the length of time European car cover was valid for – from only eight days to 365 days in a year.  Drivers shouldn’t also assume that their breakdown cover extends to driving overseas. While 11% of the policies reviewed provide EU cover, 46% exclude this protection and cover can be added to the remaining 43% of policies for an extra premium. 

Matt Oliver spokesperson for GoCompare Car Insurance commented, “Some motorists could be adding to the stress of driving on unfamiliar roads by not preparing properly before heading off overseas.  Driving rules and regulations including speed limits, traffic signals and priorities differ from one country to the next.  So, it’s essential that drivers swot-up to make sure they stay safe and stay legal.  Our interactive driving map enables drivers to check the key motoring laws of European countries they are planning to visit.          

“If you’re driving your own car abroad, don’t assume your car insurance automatically gives you the same level of protection as you have in the UK.  Call your car insurer to discuss your plans and, if necessary, upgrade your policy to foreign-use cover which will provide comprehensive cover to drive in Europe.  Otherwise, if your car is stolen or damaged – you could be in for a very nasty and very expensive shock.” 

For more information, see GoCompare’s interactive European driving map.

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Notes to editors:

*On 25 May 2017, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,005 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists, 463 said they will drive abroad this year. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

**Defaqto Matrix of 263 comprehensive car insurance policies (9 June 2017) – instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto. Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.

GoCompare is a comparison website that enables people to compare the costs and features of a wide variety of insurance policies, financial products and energy tariffs. GoCompare does not charge people to use its services, and it does not accept advertising or sponsored listings, so all product comparisons are unbiased. makes its money through fees paid by the providers of products that appear on its various comparison services when a customer buys through the site. GoCompare does not sell its customers’ data.

When it launched in 2006, it was the first comparison site to focus on displaying policy details rather than just listing prices, with the aim of helping people to make better-informed decisions when buying their insurance. GoCompare has remained dedicated to helping people choose the most appropriate products rather than just the cheapest, and has teamed up with Defaqto, the independent financial researcher, to integrate additional policy information into a number of its insurance comparison services. This allows people to compare up to an extra 30 features of cover.

GoCompare is the only comparison website to be invited to join the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).