Traveling abroad has never been easier – and it’s not always necessary to fly. Taking your own vehicle to the continent is just as economical as flying and also gives you the freedom to choose exactly where you travel. If you’re traveling on business, this also means that deadlines, meetings and other business activities can be carried out using your commercial vehicle instead of relying on a left-hand drive hire car.
But before you take your van abroad there are a few things to consider. If you are taking your own commercial vehicle across the Channel it’s vital to ensure that your van insurance covers you outside the UK. The minimum level of commercial van insurance needed to comply with European road laws is the third party, but it’s important to be aware that this may not cover you for a number of situations. It may be advisable to increase the level of your van insurance, particularly if you are driving in a foreign country where road rules are different and unfamiliar.
Remember that you will be driving on the opposite side of the road and this can be disconcerting initially, placing you at a higher risk of having an accident. Ensure that your insurance, whether that’s a simple cheap van insurance policy or fully comprehensive, includes medical expenses should you be involved in an incident. Also, consider that if you are taking goods or valuable equipment abroad then these items are also covered by your van insurance.
Another thing to check on your van insurance is if you are covered for breakdowns outside the UK. You may have to extend your policy to include this eventuality, otherwise, you could find yourself stuck with no way of recovering your vehicle.
Driving in Europe presents a range of different situations that may be unfamiliar to UK drivers. Many major European roads (such as motorways) are toll roads. If you want to avoid paying tolls it is possible to plan your route before you set off to avoid them. However, if you do use toll roads, ensure you have enough money handy to pay the toll at the end of your journey on classified toll roads.
To avoid unnecessary breakdowns, a good check of your vehicle before you leave should be at the top of your list of priorities. The basics such as tires, including ensuring you have a spare in case of a puncture, oil, water, and electrics are all basic checks you should carry out on a regular basis but are particularly important before setting off on a long journey abroad.
Making sure your vehicle is safe and roadworthy may seem like an obvious statement but many commercial van drivers do forget the basics sometimes, particularly if the van is in constant use. If necessary, have your company mechanic or machine shop check the vehicle over thoroughly before you leave.
Ensure that all documentation is in order before traveling. Make sure that your insurance provides the necessary cover to meet the laws on compulsory insurance of motor vehicles in any other country that is a member of the EU and any country which the European Commission is satisfied has made arrangements to meet the requirements of Article 7 (2) of EC Directive 72/166/EEC. This directive relates to civil liabilities arising from using a motor vehicle and should be covered by your insurance policy. If it isn’t you may have to amend your policy so allow yourself plenty of time to ensure all paperwork is in order.
Driving abroad is not that different from driving in the UK. By taking the time to make sure your van insurance and all paperwork are correct, that you have sufficient medical and breakdown coverage and that your vehicle is safe and roadworthy, you shouldn’t have any problems whilst driving abroad.