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Here’s how my car insurance left me stranded

Here’s how my car insurance left me stranded
Image source: Getty Images

Did you realise that your car insurance might leave you stranded? That’s because most policies don’t provide travel home if your car is unroadworthy after an accident.

It happened to me this summer. Having a nasty car accident on holiday in Cornwall was bad enough, but what happened next was even worse! I phoned my insurance company and found out that they would only provide travel home for my car, not for my family! 

So, my husband and I were stuck in Cornwall with no car and four young children. We needed to get my family home to Suffolk, but no hire cars were available and there were no train stations within an hour’s drive.

Let’s take a look at why I wasn’t covered for onward travel after a car accident and how you can prepare so the same thing doesn’t happen to you.

Why wasn’t I covered by my car insurance?

I was shocked to find that most car insurance policies don’t cover people for onward travel after a car accident. And yes, you’re still not covered even if you have fully comprehensive insurance cover!

Many fully comprehensive car insurance policies offer a courtesy car. But that’s only available once your car has been towed to your home town and is being repaired.

In fact, according to their website, Direct Line is the only car insurance company to offer onward travel after an accident on their comprehensive car insurance policies. 

I have breakdown cover as well, but that was no good as that’s only for breakdowns and not accidents.

Check your car insurance policy

It’s worth checking your car insurance policy to see what would happen if you had a car accident on holiday. When checking, consider the following questions:

  • Are you covered for onward travel after an accident?
  • Will you get a courtesy car once your car has been towed home and is being repaired?
  • What is the excess on your policy?

What are your options if your car insurance doesn’t include onward travel?

If you want to avoid being stranded on holiday, then there are two things you can do.

Set some money aside

It’s a good idea to set aside some emergency savings in a separate account to cover any big bills or unexpected costs. And this is one of those times when you might need to dip into your emergency savings.

Here is a list of the extra costs you might incur if you have a car accident and don’t have onward travel cover:

  • Taxi to the nearest train station. I was quoted £70.
  • Journey home on the train. It cost £250 to get my family home, and it would have been more expensive if I hadn’t had a Family Railcard.
  • Car hire for the journey home. I was quoted £800 for a seven-seater car that I could pick up in Cornwall and drop off in Ipswich.
  • Car hire while your car is fixed. It took three weeks for my car to be repaired. Luckily my policy included a courtesy car, but it would be an extra cost if yours didn’t.
  • Car insurance excess. Mine was £400.

And here’s a list of the money that was wasted because my family had to come home early:

  • Hotel for two nights £200
  • Entrance fees £50

Think about your destination

If you’re planning a holiday, then check whether your car insurance company provides transport home after an accident. If not, then it makes sense to do a bit of forward planning.

Are there train stations or hire car firms within a reasonable distance of your holiday destination? And would you be able to get a taxi to the nearest station if you can’t drive home? As I found to my cost, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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