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Insuring your classic car for driving abroad

Published 04 April 2019

If you’re planning on driving your car abroad, then the chances are you’ll need additional cover. We can’t see into the future, so we can’t tell you what’s going to happen after Brexit – but we can tell you what you need to know (and do) right now.

Before you travel

Before you go, it’s a good idea to get your car checked over by a professional. A basic service will do it the world of good, but don’t forget to tell your local garage that you’re planning to cover plenty of miles shortly, so you want the car to be in tip-top condition. If you’ve been ignoring any niggles (grumbling wheel bearings, sticky clutch) now’s the time to tackle it. If you’re going somewhere hot and you know your car runs a bit warm when sat in traffic, then be proactive. Flush the cooling system, check the radiator for blockage and the water pump for leaks. You could also consider fitting an after market electric fan. And, if your classic does suffer from fuel vaporisation, then now’s the time to reroute the fuel lines away from a hot engine lump. And, of course, getting the used to cover decent mileage beforehand won’t hurt – no classic likes to go from fully laid-up to 1500 miles overnight.

We’d also recommend putting together an emergency tool kit to make sure you’re prepared should the worst happen. This might include a basic toolkit – there’s no point taking metric spanners if all your bolts are metric; but you could also take an adjustable spanner to cover all possibilities. You’d also be surprised how many breakdowns can be sorted out through the judicious use of Duct Tape and/or heavy-duty string. But keeping exhaust repair kit handy is also a smart idea, as is a top up for your oil.  A sharp knife and a hammer will probably be in your boot already, along with a wheel brace, decent jack and air compressor. An empty spare fuel can is also a good idea.

Do your research

Next up, you’ll need to look at the driving rules and regulations for the country (or countries) you’re planning to visit. If your speedo only read in miles, then you’ll need to find some way of telling the speed in kilometres. This can be done with a simple stick-on satellite navigation unit (an extra bonus as you get maps). Alternatively, you can use the GPS on your phone to find your way and monitor your speed… although make sure you’re sorted on the data roaming front otherwise you could face a large bill. You’ll also need to think about what to do in areas where there isn’t any mobile phone signal. Wait... did someone say maps?

Like a good scout, you’ll also need to be prepared. France, for example says that you must carry a high-vis jacket up front with you at all times, while in Poland you need to have your headlights on at all times. Luckily, there are various European travel kits you can buy before you go that contain most of the items you’ll need. In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, it’s quite likely that you’ll also need an Insurance Green Card and an International Driving Permit. It’s a good idea to have copies to hand of all your important driving documents, too – just in case. You can read the latest Government advice here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-to-drive-in-the-eu-after-brexit

Also make sure you’ve got a good idea of various speed limits and driving laws for the countries that you’re visiting. Forewarned is forearmed.

Insurance

When it comes to insurance, every provider is different but here’s a rough idea of what to expect. For example, Hegarty offers 90 days of European touring cover as standard as part of its policy – and this also includes European breakdown recovery. If your insurer does offer cover, check that it’s fully comprehensive and not just third party.

European Breakdown Cover

Perhaps the most important part of your policy for driving abroad is breakdown cover - which is not always included, but is normally offered as an additional extra. If you're arranging it through your insurer, make sure you’ve got the relevant telephone numbers to hand. Is there someone there to take your call 24/7 all year round? Are the advisors English speaking?

Every policy is different so find out what happens in an emergency. Will the party recovering your car have experience of dealing with classics? Will your car just be recovered to a local garage? Or will they find a marque specialist for you? What happens if it needs specialist parts? And what happens if it can’t be repaired? A lot of the time it will be recovered back to the UK, but this can take longer than many people expected. You’ll also need to know what happens once it’s back in the UK – will it be returned to your driveway or can you ask for it to be moved to your preferred specialist? It's also worth finding out if they'll provide a hire car so that you can continue your holiday and if they'll offer overnight accommodation if you're stuck waiting for your car to be repaired.

Exactly what is offered by European breakdown cover can vary wildly, so ask as many questions (and get as many answers) as you can before you go - you don't want to find out an important part of the policy is missing when you and your Morris Minor are stranded in the middle of nowhere at 2am.

 

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