You're involved in a road accident abroad

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

If you're involved in a road accident on holiday there may be extra complications and difficulties to deal with.  This page explains what you should do if you're involved in a road accident while travelling abroad.

At the scene of the accident

If you're involved in a road accident abroad, make sure the police are called and that you get a copy of the police report. If you don’t understand what you're being told, ask for an interpreter. If possible:

  • make notes about what happened

  • get photographs of the accident - including pictures of the number plates of the other vehicles involved and their positions

  • exchange insurance details

  • take the names and addresses of as many witnesses as possible

  • don't admit liability or apologise.

If you’re driving in Europe you may have been given a European Accident Statement (EAS) by your insurance company or one may be provided at the scene of the accident. The European Accident Statement (EAS) is a standard form available throughout Europe in various languages. The EAS helps get an agreed statement of facts about the accident and can help with insurance claims. Only sign the EAS when you're sure that you understand the situation. Make sure you’re given a copy of the accident statement.

What happens next?

You should contact your insurer as soon as possible. What happens next will depend on whether the vehicle you were driving was hired and what kind of insurance cover you have arranged.

You were driving your own vehicle

Make sure you tell your insurer about the accident as soon as you can, even if you don’t want to make a claim. Insurance policies have a time limit for reporting accidents and if you fail to meet this you may not be covered. You should give your insurance firm as much information about the accident as you can, as it will help them process your claim.

You should check your car insurance is valid abroad before you travel. Ideally, contact your insurer at least a month before taking your vehicle abroad. If you haven’t checked your policy you may find that you don’t have the same level of insurance as at home. Many insurers offer third-party cover while overseas, not comprehensive cover. This could leave you out-of-pocket if there is damage to your car. If you are going to be driving outside the European Union you should also apply for a Green Card, which proves you have the minimum legal requirement of third-party liability insurance. You can usually get a Green Card from your insurer who may charge you a small fee.

From 1 January 2021 you may need to do other things before driving in Europe. Check before you travel.

You were driving a hire car

When driving a hire car it’s especially important to report even minor accidents to the local police before you come back to the UK. Car hire firms may insist accidents are reported and this can be very difficult once you’ve left the country. Make sure you do not admit liability as this can affect your car hire insurance claim. Contact your car hire company as soon as possible. Some car hire firms have an assistance number in the UK which you should be able to find in your contract. Make sure that you give the company as much information as possible about the accident. Once you are home, write to the company with a full report of the accident. Never have a hire car repaired without getting the approval of the hire company first.

You’ll need to check the terms and conditions of the insurance you took out when you hired the car to see what charges you may be liable for.

Accidents with uninsured drivers

If the accident happened in:

  • a European Union country

  • Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

and was caused by an uninsured driver, you may be able to claim compensation from the country where the accident happened. You claim through the country’s equivalent of the Motor Insurers' Bureau. You can find out more information about this from your insurance company or the British Embassy where you are staying.

Personal injury claims

If you’ve been involved in an accident abroad you may want to make a personal injury claim. However, this can be very complicated and expensive. If you are thinking of making a claim for an accident you had on holiday you should get legal advice.

Next steps

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Page last reviewed on 20 February 2020