25.04.2016 Car Insurance
The wait is over - the boys in green are in France for the Euro’s. Excitement is building and we know the green army will be out in force to support them. If you are lucky enough to be travelling to some of the matches by car or campervan, there is a lot happening that you need to be aware of. We want to make sure the craic is mighty but you and your mates have no trouble driving in France:
There is some equipment you are legally required to have in your car in France. Although not all of them are legal requirement here, it makes sense to carry them while in Ireland too so it’s a worth wile investment.
This might seem like an obvious one but it is surprizing how often it is forgotten in the excitement, especially if you don’t normally need it on your holidays abroad. You will need a full valid driving licence to hire a car or if you are stopped by police while in France. An international driving licence is not needed for France but is a requirement in Spain and Italy so if you are hiring cars or campervans in either of those countries and driving to France make sure you apply for one in good time. Applying is relatively straight forward but you will need:
✓ Photocopy of your driver’s licence
✓ Passport photo that you have signed on the back
✓ Copy of a utility bill from the last 3 months as proof of address
✓ Completed application form
It is a requirement for every car in France to have a warning triangle and high visibility vest. There are often checkpoints at ferry terminals to make sure cars disembarking is carrying everything needed. Both items are easy to find in a local DIY or car store. There are some affordable bundles containing other useful equipment too.
Since 2012 it has been a legal requirement for cars to carry a breathalyser with an NP mark. Although fines for not carrying a breathalyser are currently suspended it is better to comply especially when there are affordable options available.
There is no doubt smart phones are amazing. For many of us they are our phone, camera, GPS and computer all in one. Google maps is brilliant when you have all you can eat data at home, charges for data while abroad can be much higher. If you are willing to spring for the roaming charges or using offline maps, you can find a handy stadium map here. If you are Snapchatting friends and family at home to show them what they are missing your battery may not last as long as you need it to. So don’t be stuck on the 8hour journey from Bordeaux to Lille and bring a good map. Familiarise yourself with the roads you need to travel to get from city to city.
We are becoming increasingly familiar with tolls in Ireland however tolls on the continent are much more frequent and usually cost a lot more than we are used to. A trip from Le Havre to Bordeaux via Paris costs €74.20 in tolls so don’t forget to factor those in when planning to drive in France.
If you have been watching the news lately you may have heard France mentioned for a number of reasons. If you haven’t, it’s important you know what’s happening before you travel. The current situation (week 7th June):
Although we don’t like to think about it, the terrorism risk for France remains high throughout the Euro’s. The French authorities are taking unprecedented precautions in terms of policing to lessen the chances of something happening but they cannot rule out the possibility entirely. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs recommend Irish visitors to France exercise a high degree of caution while in the country:
• Be aware of your surroundings
• Know where your friends are
• Be alert
• Follow any security advice issued by the French Authorities
Road closures or diversions may be in place so be vigilant when driving in France. It is also worthwhile registering with the Department of Foreign Affairs so they can get in touch with you in case of emergency.
Don’t forget to bring your passport and ensure it is in date. It is recommended that you carry it with you at all times, you are likely to be asked to produce it. Although they aren’t very cool it’s worth investing in a neck wallet to stop your passport slipping out of a pocket as you travel. Just in case scan and email a copy of your passport to someone at home, so if it is lost or stolen on the trip you can show the scan to the Irish embassy.
There is a general strike in France at the moment over opposition to changes in French employment law. The strikes have had significant impact so far with flight cancellations due to air traffic control strikes and fuel shortages as a result of blockades at fuel depots.
There were problems in the last week of May with petrol shortages, these have eased because the French government have started using petrol reserves which should last for 3 months. The advice from the AA when driving in France is make sure you have a full tank of petrol when you leave Ireland, don’t try to bring extra fuel in jerry cans - you will not be allowed travel by ferry with them and start looking for places to fill up once your tank hits half empty.
In France, as in much of mainland Europe, cars drive on the right. This can throw up some unexpected challenges, especially if you are travelling by ferry and driving your right hand drive car to the Euros. Remember if you are driving a right hand car on the right hand side of the road you will have very little view of the road in front of you. Our tip for driving in France is leave a greater gap between you and the car in front so you have more time to react should something unexpected happen and avoid overtaking, it is not worth the risk. Here are some more tips for driving on the right.
Alcohol levels on the continent are the same as in Ireland at 0.5 but best to avoid alcohol altogether when driving in France, an unfamiliar country on the other side of the road. Remember you may still be over the limit the morning after a session. The only cure is time so don’t take any risks and wait it out.
Speed limits on French motorways can be from 110 – 130km per hour, keep an eye out for signs. Secondary roads will vary, much like in Ireland so it is best to keep your eyes peeled for signs.
If you are an AIG customer your car insurance policy allows you to drive in Europe for up to 30 days. Easily enough time to catch all the Irish games!
If you are renting a car in France avoid unnecessary costs with car hire excess cover. If a rented car is damaged or stolen there are often very high excesses to be paid. This policy covers these and helps you and your mates avoid unexpected costs for your rented car in France.
If your car insurance is with another company, make sure you check with them to ensure you are covered to drive while abroad.
Should something happen that requires hospital treatment while you are travelling in France you need a European Health Insurance Card as a minimum to be treated in a French hospital. The card does not cover the cost of returning home or any costs associated with a longer stay in France, to cover these potential costs you will require private travel insurance. If you have a health insurance policy that covers treatment abroad travel insurance will not be as expensive. We offer comprehensive travel insurance for you and the entire family.
France has been facing some very unusual weather conditions for the time of year with large amounts of rainfall causing the Seine to flood parts of Paris. Although this has caused terrible traffic problems in the city, flood waters are abating and will hopefully be gone by the time the green army reach French shores! Make sure you double check this before you travel though.
Once you have ticked all these items off your list, go and have the craic that the green army are known for, no matter where in the world we travel! Hopefully we can provide some light relief for an increasingly weary French public. Check out this video from Poland to remember. #COYBIG!
If you’re one of the unlucky ones not going to France, here are 10 Stunning Cities for a Weekend Trip under 3 Hours from Dublin.