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What to do if there is a crash abroad

Auto vacation accident abroad insurance-abroad

Trouble on vacation: a rear-end collision can happen quickly. One should not even get involved in a dispute with the other party involved in the accident. It’s good when you’re properly insured

Source: Getty Images / OJO Images RF

A traffic accident is always annoying. If it happens abroad, it can get complicated because different laws apply. Many insurance companies offer special packages, but some are pointless.

D.he trip is almost booked on the Internet when an advertising banner literally shouts at you: “Do you really want to forego insurance cover?” Many experts actually advise answering this question with a yes. At least as far as special vacation packages are concerned that combine several insurances. "Often risks are insured that are already covered by other insurances," explains Bianca Boss from the Association of Insureds (BdV).

Simone Weidner from Stiftung Warentest says: "Sometimes you have five policies that you don’t really understand, and if you go into the details, the benefits due to upper limits and deductibles are often lower and more limited than with individual insurance."

The two experts also advise taking a closer look at insurance services offered by credit card companies. The prerequisite for insurance cover is almost always that the trip is paid for with a credit card. And the protection is often less comprehensive than with regular insurance.

This may not apply to health insurance. It is true that every insured person in Europe, for example after a traffic accident, has the right to treatment at the national standard with his or her health card, as Simone Weidner explains. And that also in popular travel destinations that have concluded corresponding agreements with Germany, such as Israel or Turkey.

International health insurance doesn’t have to be expensive

But this standard is not always what a German patient would like. In addition, it can happen that you come across a doctor who only accepts private patients. That is why the editor of the magazine “Finanztest” recommends taking out health insurance for travel abroad. "It doesn’t have to cost more than ten euros for individuals or 20 euros for families and is valid for several vacations a year."

It is indispensable for holidaymakers who travel further afield, for example to the USA or Australia. The statutory health insurance does not replace a cent of the treatment costs incurred there, even afterwards. Whereby these “are often significantly higher than in Germany”, as Weidner says. On the other hand, privately insured persons have full insurance coverage in most tariffs worldwide.

But even private individuals do not always pay for the return transport to Germany. With travel health insurance, however, this service is always included, but differences were found in the current test by Stiftung Warentest: Some insurers only pay when it is medically necessary, "that will not be the case with a hospital stay in Austria," says Weidner.

With other insurers, the repatriation is also covered if it is "medically not sensible and justifiable," says Weidner. "This is important for seniors who would otherwise be lonely in a medically well-equipped hospital for a long time."

And even if you don’t really want to worry about it when planning your vacation: Travel health insurance also pays for the repatriation in the event of death, on average up to 10,000 euros, some even as little as 5,000 euros.

But it is not only your own health that is at risk from accidents abroad. If you want to be well protected, you should plan early and observe deadlines. "You have to take out your traffic legal protection at least three months in advance," advises BdV specialist Boss, and pay attention to global coverage. However, it is not possible to book fully comprehensive car insurance only for vacation, as the policies are always valid for a whole year, as Boss says.

Protection letters that guarantee breakdown assistance or a replacement car after engine failure can also be taken out for the duration of a vacation, but this does not include compensation for the value of one’s own car. And when traveling to exotic countries, it is essential to find out beforehand whether the insurance is even valid there. If this is not the case, often the only thing that helps is a change of insurance, says Boss.

Abroad, the coverage amounts are often lower, warns Alina Schon, spokeswoman for the Association of the German Insurance Industry. This means that the insurance of the person who caused the accident may not reimburse the entire damage to your own car. For these cases there is international damage protection, which can be included in normal motor vehicle liability insurance, says Schon.

Local attorney can be useful

The lower amounts insured also harbor another risk: in the event of an accident with personal injury or substantial property damage, you can still be held liable as the person who caused it. In this case, the experts recommend the so-called Mallorca Policy, which, according to Bianca Boss, includes flat-rate coverage for personal injury and property damage of up to ten million euros. It is sometimes included in vehicle insurance for your own car, but it can also be taken out at short notice and costs around 20 euros per month, according to Boss.

If an accident actually does occur, the European Accident Report can help: This is a form available in all European languages ​​in which details about the accident and those involved can be noted. It can be requested from insurers or automobile clubs or downloaded from their websites.

Volker Lempp, traffic lawyer at Auto Club Europa (ACE), however, warns against overestimating the accident report: “This is not an official document.” If you are involved in an accident, the main decision is: “I’ll get a foreign lawyer and try to arrange everything on site, or do I take care of it from Germany? "

If someone was injured in the accident, you can’t wait to return and you should hire a lawyer. Since the law of the accident country applies, he knows the laws better, but is more difficult to reach from Germany.

If the accident happened within the EU or in the states of the European Economic Area (EEA), things can also be settled from Germany via a so-called claims settlement officer of the opposing insurance company. The advantage of this procedure, which is agreed in an EU directive: "Even if the foreign insurance company remains inactive, you will receive compensation after five months at the latest," says Lempp.

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