Insurance: Road traffic accidents abroad

What to do before departure, after an accident and when you get back to the UK

14 October 2008: Statistics show that the chances of being involved in a car accident in mainland Europe doubles, and it almost triples in Greece and Portugal. Adele Farnaby, Litigation Executive from the Road Traffic Accident team at Simpson Millar LLP, gives these tips for those planning to drive abroad:

Before departure

Contact your insurance company and ask for a 'Green Card'. Although the majority of UK insurers provide cover to drive in most European counties it is advisable to check the level of cover in place. Irrespective of valid UK insurance you may be still asked to produce a Green Card.

Remember to pack

Full UK Driving Licence, Vehicle Registration Document or proof of ownership of the vehicle, UK Insurance certificate and/or Green Card. You may be asked to produce these at the scene of an accident.

After an accident

When exchanging details make sure you obtain the name, address and registration plates of both the front and rear of the vehicle (in some countries these differ). If the vehicle is commercial get the name of the company the vehicle is owned by. Gathering as much information as possible will help your solicitor deal with your claim on returning to the UK. Remember to take names and addresses of witnesses.

When the Police arrive

Take the name, station and badge number of the officer(s) in attendance. In most countries it is law for them to attend. They are helpful as they can assist with any language barrier and their attendance will provide a further record of the accident.

If you are asked to sign a 'Constat Amiable'

It is perfectly safe for you to complete and sign this document. It is simply a method of ensuring that everyone involved in an accident has exchanged the relevant information and if possible agree upon how the accident happened. Make sure you are given a copy and that you understand the information written by the other party.
If you are injured

Seek medical assistance. Keep copies of any documentation provided by the doctor or hospital. Keep receipts for excess payment for medical fees. If your claim is successful you can claim these costs back.

When you get back to the UK

Seek Legal Advice. In the UK victims have 3 years in which to pursue a claim for personal injury and six years for property damage. However in other European countries the time periods are much shorter, for example in Spain you only have one year. It is essential that you get professional advice as soon as possible to ensure your claim is still in date.

This article was written by Adele Farnaby, Road Traffic Accident Team Simpson Millar LLP. Tel: 0844 858 3200

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