Monday, March 29, 2010

What You Need To Know About Foreign Car Insurance

Driving in a foreign country is not exactly like hopping in a car in America. To make sure a trip is safe, sound and legal, there are things you need to take care of before you go. Beyond planning the route and securing a rental, you will also want to look into foreign car insurance.

Depending on the country you plan on visiting and driving in, your insurance may not be valid on the roads. To be 100 percent certain you have your legal bases covered on this front, make sure to:Check with authorities in the country you plan on visiting - To find out exactly what the insurance requirements are for Americans driving in your country of choice, go straight to the source.

Check with local authorities. If language barriers or other problems get in the way, contact the American Embassy for detailed information. In some countries your standard car insurance policy will be enough to cover rentals. In others, however, special policies are required.

Check with your insurance company - Even if you find out your country of choice recognizes American coverage, it is still a good idea to check with your insurance company directly. They may have provisions that negate or limit coverage when you are on foreign soil. Some policies, for example, only cover travel in the United States and Canada. Do not panic if your coverage does not apply. You can generally purchase a temporary policy through a rental car company.

Beyond making sure you have insurance coverage in place, there are a few other things you will want to plan ahead to make certain you are legal on the roads. Before heading out on a trip that will involve driving in a foreign country, be sure to:

Look into licensing requirements - Many European countries recognize American licenses, but not all of them do. Be certain you know the laws for where you are going. You may be required to obtain an International Driving Permit before you go.

Study up on local driving laws - The highway laws in some foreign countries can prove to be rather quirky. Make sure you understand the rules of the roads before you get behind the wheel. It is also a very good idea to study road signs and what they mean before you head out on your trip.

Map out your drive - It is never a good idea to get behind the wheel of a car in a foreign country without knowing where you are going. Map out routes in advance and check into localized driving conditions.

Do not go alone - It is always better to have a trusted companion along for the ride. Your second can help you keep an extra set of eyes on the road and the road signs and can also handle navigation details.

Making the decision to drive in a foreign country is a great way to get to see the sights that are not in the touristy areas. Take care though to have insurance and other details in place before you head out on the open road.