Motorhome accident abroad and insurance

Motorhome Accident Abroad and Insurance

Our road accident in Croatia this Summer, brought a complete learning curve in dealing with and understanding insurance. So, we’re going to share our experiences of having a motorhome accident abroad, and how our insurance company soon became an everyday part of our lives.

First, our motorhome accident abroad is the only one we’ve had. Obviously encouraging to say the least.

Incredibly, that’s 23 years of accident-free travels, covering thousands of miles in numerous countries worldwide. So, it’s not something that happens often, or at least we hope not.

However awful the accident abroad has been, especially as it was the result of a “crash for cash” type incident, it’s made us so much more aware of the importance of insurance and question the likelihood of travelling further afield in future. Particularly, countries such as Turkey or Morocco.

That’s simply because of what we now know about insurance, repatriation and dealing with an accident abroad in a motorhome.

Although we’ve used Breakdown Recovery a few times over the years, it’s worth pointing out that it’s obviously different to vehicle insurance.

On the occasions we had to call breakdown, it was for simple things, where a quick mechanic fix on the same or next day, got us back on the road.

In our opinion, a breakdown recovery policy is still essential, and we wouldn’t leave home without it. After all, knowing there’s hopefully help available when you need it, really is important.

Our own breakdown policy at the time of our accident was with Greenflag. Immediately after the accident we gave them a call to see if they could assist us in any way with anything included on the policy. The answer was “no”, due to our incident being a road accident and not a breakdown.

To put it mildly, a motorhome accident abroad and dealing with our insurance company has been an eye-opener.

So, this post is about everything we’ve learnt so far. Remembering, all information is from our own personal experiences, before, during and after our fateful accident day.

We were actually driving to Greece when our accident happened not far from Dubrovnik in Croatia. A few days later, we were due to arrive across the border in Montenegro, before entering Albania and finally Greece.

Before our accident, we’d already crossed through several countries: France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

motorhome accident abroad and insurance

Before leaving home and taking out the insurance, we did lots of homework, because some countries we were wanting to visit were not available for cover on most insurance policies.

In fact, it was week’s of work, hours of phone calls and trawling insurance companies online, to find one that does cover Montenegro and Albania. This is how we came to be with LV, our insurance company.

LV also cover Montenegro as standard, which in itself is difficult to find. Even better, they have an option to buy a Green Card for Albania, ensuring fully comprehensive insurance for the specific dates you have to give them for entering and exiting.

They would only quote for the Green Card once we bought the standard insurance policy. Our Green Card for 7 days in Albania cost £20.80 and came by post within about 5 days. LV said it would be e-mailed too, but it didn’t arrive, so we made an extra call to receive it by e-mail.

They’re also one of the few UK insurance companies where you can buy a Green Card for Turkey and Morocco.

It’s worth sharing some information whilst we’re on the subject, which our insurance claim handler at the Accident Abroad team told us, on the first day we spoke with him. Bearing in mind he’s repatriated 1000’s of vehicles over the years, so knew his onions.

Nigel asked the question, “can we leave Croatia without the van”? Because we know from research on overland trips, that some countries prohibit you leaving the country without your vehicle.

The answer to this came as an eye-opener. The insurance guy said that we can in Croatia, but if we’d have been in Turkey it would have been a different story. That’s because you can’t leave Turkey without your vehicle. If you do leave the country (remember we we’re having to fly home and leave our van) then the authorities can impound the vehicle.

We didn’t go on to ask the insurance handler about Morocco, but it has really put us off taking the risk in these “Green Card” countries. Not least because of the logistics of the insurance company actually repatriating.

I don’t know, because we haven’t been in the situation, but I can’t see a repatriation truck being sent from the UK, all the way across the Mediterranean to North West Africa for example.

That’s if the Green Card is covering fully comp in the first place. As for Albania,(our Green card was fully comp) it’s obviously closer, but the question is still on our minds – would the insurance actually repatriate, although it’s nearer to home than Greece, we’re really not sure.

As you’ll guess, 3rd party insurance for us is now a definite no go!

Ok, so most motorhome insurance policies, if they include cover for driving abroad, will automatically cover the more obvious countries, such as France. However, some countries may not be included at all, even if you think they will be.

For example, last year our motorhome insurance was with The Caravan and Motorhome Club. When we read the policy document before renewing, Slovenia was one country missing on the list of countries they include. Then when we later renewed with the CAMC, the new policy came with a different underwriter, which did include cover for Slovenia. At the end of the day, you need to be so thorough.

Phoning NFU during our search this year, the call handler told us Croatia wasn’t even covered. So it shows just how careful you have to be.

Although, reading this policy document, it looks like NFU cover Croatia 3rd party only, although we were just told they don’t cover Croatia at all. Either way, how many people actually check the lists? I’m not sure we have in the past for visits to Croatia or Slovenia, and I really think we’d presume they just include it as fully comp cover.

NFU insurance countries covered
NFU policy cover
  • We check the countries traveling to are covered on the policy, before leaving home. If it’s not clear on the policy documents we phone and ask. Then make a note of the date, time and who we spoke to.
  • Double check the list of countries in print on the actual policy – they don’t always match what the insurance staff tell you.
  • Sometimes the policy just states countries in Europe. So, we check if this just means EU countries or EU countries with other specific non-EU countries.
  • We don’t go solely by other people, because they may not actually know what their own policy allows – ignorance is bliss. This also applies to those travelling under a policy from a different country. Some insurance companies in other parts of Europe may insure countries that aren’t generally covered by a UK provider.
LV motorhome insurance countries covered
LV Policy cover
  • We print off policy documents before travelling and know where they are to hand in the van. It’s so much easier to have paper in front of you, especially as the police will ask for this at the scene. During our incident, they kept it with them for a couple of hours, whilst compiling the accident details on the roadside.
  • When you take out the policy, it’s worth checking the phone numbers for an accident abroad. Ensure there is a +44 number listed. If there isn’t, phone the insurance and ask for one or a number they use for calling from abroad.
  • The phone numbers on our LV policy, unbelievably, would not work from abroad. This wasted valuable time at the scene, whilst trying to use a poor internet signal to google search for a phone number. So it’s really important to have one which you know will work.
  • Our dashcam footage was undeniably essential in assisting the police and verifying what we’d already told them. In our opinion it’s a must have accessory for travel today.
  • Think about fitting a dash cam if you haven’t already, and know how to download the footage. We had to access our accident footage at the scene for the police, and e-mail it to them on the roadside. This isn’t easy in a stressful situation if you don’t know how to do it.
  • In Croatia, like most countries in Europe a dashcam is legal, some are not, but these are few and far between now. In our accident, the police were really grateful for the dashcam footage, and gave the impression it’s quite unusual to have one at all there.
  • Here’s a list of legality of countries and you’ll see Cyprus, Portugal, Switzerland and Luxembourg are some countries where a dashcam isn’t totally legal. Note: List compiled by Netbase in 2022.
  • Our dashcam is a Netbase and the clarity is superb. It’s hard-wired, but the actual dashcam can be taken out separately. This was really important because we were having to leave our campervan at the side of the road, at the recovery garage. We didn’t want anything of value left inside.
Netbase dashcam motorhome accident abroad and insurance
Our Netbase dashcam
  • Writing down travel dates somewhere to hand is useful – it was one of the first questions the insurance company asked. That’s the date of departure from the UK and the date of our return booking.
  • Before travelling we look at the amount of days permitted by the insurance policy. For example, some limit travel to a set amount of days per trip, such as 30 or 90. Our own policy covers 180 days per annum.
  • It’s also important to have a return booking, as most policies require this. As well, of course for passport control at the border, if you’re travelling on a non EU passport.
  • Our accident was unavoidable and an obvious “crash for cash” type incident. The driver admitted liability at the scene, realising there was dash cam footage.
  • The driver overtook us before doing an emergency stop for no reason. Although he continually came over to try and talk to us, often using the term (which we didn’t know before) for this type of incident “brake check” in the process, we avoided communication with him. Even when he persistently offered his apologies and asked us to go and stay at his house. Instead we spoke directly to the police. 
  • Taking photo’s and video at the scene is essential, they’re needed for the insurance and repair garage.
  • Our accident happened on a bank holiday Saturday. Unbeknown to us, the LV department who deal with accidents abroad do not open weekends and bank holidays. 
  • The was hugely problematic, resulting in 3 days of often inaccurate and misleading information from LV.
  • We had no idea at the time of taking out our insurance policy, that they have no dedicated department open at weekends or bank holidays if you’re accident is abroad.
  • Despite numerous phone calls, automated text messages and literally hours spent speaking to LV during the first 3 days, not only was the information given predominantly incorrect, but the consequences for us were dire.
  • Basically, except for the initial period of sending out a recovery truck to move us, we were left with mostly incorrect information . Remember, the only department who deal with accidents abroad at LV close on a Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday.

With our insurance company, LV, comes a dedicated Accident Abroad Team who are the only department who deal with road accidents abroad.

Once they returned to work after their long weekend off, this is who we then dealt with throughout. Generally, we spoke with the same chap and if he wasn’t available, which was only when he was on lunch, his colleagues were there to speak to.

The team is apparently small, our case handler was at the end of the phone without having to go through a queue system. This is one really positive point to make, because, although our initial involvement with LV was dire, simply due to this department not being open, afterwards it was such a relief to actually have the same person pick up the phone and answer e-mails.

The accident abroad team, who I believe consist of 5 staff members, were actually ok to deal with. Having said that, not everything went plain sailing and there was a lot of correspondence between us and our case handler.

However, the direct access phone line and e-mails just makes the process so less complicated.

Download the App what3words because the insurance company used this to locate us at the scene. Even after LV sent a recovery truck to move us from the scene, remarkably they still didn’t know where they’d sent us to, asking afterwards for our location where they’d dropped us off, and for us to tell them by looking on what3words.

We were at the scene for a few hours whilst awaiting for the police and then recovery from the insurance. Before leaving, the police gave us an accident reference, along with phone number and e-mail address.

They gave us back our documents and a copy of the incident. We were told to get in touch with them after 5 working days to get a copy of the accident report.

Just before we left, the other driver was receiving a fine from the police. Unbelievably, he asked us to pay it on our credit card, because he only had the amount in cash and the police didn’t take cash.

As you can imagine, we made a sharp exit and were only too glad the police we’re dealing with him.

Local’s at the scene were only too willing to mention how the chap was known locally. Unfortunately for us, we just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Our insurance, LV sent a local recovery truck to move our campervan and us from the accident scene.

We didn’t have any information who it was or when it was arriving. Basically, a truck just came and we had to ask if the insurance had sent for it. It turned out it was from a local garage about 10 minutes drive away. The driver said he’d been called out by “Britannia”, this is who LV deal with for recovery.

There was only one cab with 3 seats and only 2 seatbelts, not exactly reassuring after an accident, especially as the recovery guy also had his 7-year old son with him.

Before our accident we had no clue how insurance companies deal with accidents abroad. For instance, LV use a team based in Lyon, France who were dealing with calling & texting us in the first few days.

These are called Britannia Recovery and Opteven International Recovery. Although, they initially sent out the recovery truck, afterwards information was inaccurate and unhelpful in our case.

We thought the insurance company had an approved list of recovery truck partners in each country. Unfortunately, we soon learn they don’t.

LV told us they just do a google search to find the nearest recovery garage to where you’re acccident happens.

LV told us from the onset, we’d be taken to a secure compound, but this turned out to be untrue. Instead, we were moved to a concrete parking space at an outdoor repair workshop, beside the busy main road to Dubrovnik.

We were left with no water, toilet, transport, shopping facility, cafe or village nearby. The garage had no office or reception, no compound, no indoor work areas and no one around for the rest of the weekend. The only thing close was a fuel station.

On either side of the main road, on overgrown grassy areas of land, were vehicle parts, smashed and part-repaired vehicles, trucks, vehicle fluids and old parts scattered around. Everything looked like it had been there for a very long time.

Little did we know at the time, but our van was at the side of the road for a further 3 weeks.

We had no idea what was happening and had to stay 2 nights inside our damaged van with no assistance, and lot’s of false information from the insurance.

The information from our insurance was terrible. From phone calls to say they were booking a hotel for us in Dubrovnik and asking if we wanted them to arrange flights home, to them telling us a taxi was coming at 9am the next day to take us to a car hire firm, where a car was waiting for us.

It turned out there was no taxi, hotel, flights home or car hire firm, we were waiting at our campervan for something that was never going to happen.

In the end, we booked our own hotel and the recovery garage gave us an old car to use to drive to Dubrovnik, the nearest town, a 2-hour round trip away.

Here, we managed to buy suitcases, as we had to now empty the campervan as best we could.

We had to our own book flights home. We booked these on one of the nearest available, which was 7 days after our accident. Naively, we were thinking our campervan would be on it’s way back to the UK by then.

Luckily, there was Croatia’s main tourist hotspot of Dubrovnik airport within a couple of hours from the accident, so flights were pretty regular.

As you’ll see, it’s imperative that you start making notes on everything as soon as you have an accident.

Even after a couple of days, it’s hard to remember which phone call said what and who you spoke to. Then, the series of events is even difficult to remember properly. So, a notebook, list of things as and when they happen and a log from day one is so important.

On the weekend of the accident, LV said the campervan was about to be collected. After collection, it was supposed to be taken to a secure compound overnight. Then repatriation back to the UK later the following day. Unfortunately, this also turned out to be incorrect information.

Once the accident abroad team at LV were open for business, the information given was quite different.

Soon, we realised it was potentially going to be a very lengthy process.

I will write about the full repatriation process in another post. Although it was over 3 weeks before our campervan was collected from the roadside garage.

5 1/2 weeks from the accident day, our campervan arrived at the dedicated insurance approved repair garage in England.

A repair for our campervan in Croatia was eliminated almost straight away.

This was because our campervan was not drivable. Also, repairs were obviously going to have to be done at a proper Mercedes approved repairer. Croatia didn’t have anywhere where we could even try.

Initially, there was a brief option mentioned of having a quick repair, then getting it checked and finished at a garage back in the UK. In reality, this just wasn’t a viable option in our case.

LV told us to get a repair done in country, we’d have to get our own assessment of the damage, obtain a quote and then they’d look at approving it.

Obviously, we couldn’t even drive our campervan to show a garage, let alone find a Mercedes approved repairer. Also, there’s the language barrier and potential future problems that you have to consider.

After discussing the options, the accident abroad department at LV thought repatriation was best and we agreed.

Our accident abroad team at the insurance did discuss a repair in country with us on the first call with them. However, it soon became clear it wasn’t an option in our case, due to the type of damage and the country we were in.

Also, we were told that if we did find a garage to quote and repair in Croatia, if something were to go wrong afterwards whilst away, then we would have to get another repair done with no option then of repatriation.

Basically it was an either or but not both.

Initially, we were unsure of the situation with insurance potentially writing a vehicle off. LV told us the threshold for repatriation, repair or both is 60% of the value of the vehicle. Thankfully, for us, this meant our vehicle wouldn’t be left in Croatia as a write off.

Our accident abroad and subsequent repatriation has been so time consuming. We’ve spent hours on the phone, writing e-mails as well as complaints. It’s in many ways taken over our lives.

But, if we hadn’t done the chasing, following things up and doing our own research, everything would have taken longer. Remember, to make notes after every communication too.

Naively, in the beginning, we thought a local recovery truck would take our damaged campervan to the border, where another truck would take over through the next country.

This is not how repatriation works.

The insurance company use a dedicated UK repatriation company and they wait until they have enough vehicles needing repatriation.

So, in our case, we were the furthest in Croatia, the repatriation company, D & G in Essex were sent to bring our motorhome back. First though, they wait for enough vehicles, then the truck leaves the UK to bring them back.

Our motorhome was collected after 3 weeks waiting and was with vehicles being brought back to the UK from Austria and Germany.

There was paperwork for us to complete straight after the accident and our log book details were given too. This was all needed for the repatriation company.

The repatriation company also have to submit forms for the transit through different countries, this is a T1 apparently. Although, we didn’t have anything to do with this, we were aware of it as it held things up for a while.

Once back in the UK, the repatriation company with our motorhome paperwork, then had to clear customs at a dedicated location near Dover.

Once back in the UK, our motorhome was taken to the repatriation company’s depot in Essex. Initially, we were told it would be moved straight from here to the repair garage near Liverpool.

However, LV then told us they instead were going to switch to using their own recovery unit – Britannia. This then lead to a further 7 days awaiting our motorhome to arrive on the short 4-hour journey up North.

Instead of just driving to Liverpool, our motorhome was taken to a further 4 or 5 depots on different recovery trucks. As you can image, that meant more chasing by us, including to each recovery depot just to try and get our van back quicker.

Finding an insurance approved Mercedes repairer for our damage began as soon as we spoke with the Accident Abroad team. This was when we were in Croatia.

They gave us a list of their approved repairers nearest to our home in North Wales. Then, we phoned round the garages on the list.

During this time, we liased with the Accident abroad team, keeping them informed and confirming the garage chosen.

Only one garage was really an option. That’s because the normal Mercedes approved repairers didn’t take motorhomes, and there were only a couple anyway.

Fortunately, the one garage that could repair, Commercial Colours, were one we knew of before the accident. We were more than happy for our Sprinter to be repaired there.

Once our campervan arrived at the repair garage, the Accident Abroad team finished with us and handed over to LV’s UK claims department.

They called us that afternoon and said from then on we just needed to contact the repair garage for updates rather than themselves.

This is how it’s been since, with only an odd phone call to them. This department are not a personalised team and we don’t have a direct phone line or e-mails. So, unlike the Accident Abroad claim handler, who knew us and our accident without us having to explain a thing, the UK department seem quite different.

Throughout the wait for repatriation, our insurance company, or more precisely, the Accident Abroad team, informed us that repairs were pre-authorised and the garage would proceed with repairs. This was because the garage was one of their approved repairers.

However, this didn’t turn out to be the case. In reality, the repair garage had to submit an estimate, which then needed approving by LV.

This took about a week from arriving at the repair garage to them getting the approval from our insurance.

We had no damage to our motorhome habitation side at all. Our campervan is an original panel van conversion on a Mercedes Sprinter 4×4. So, there was no need for motorhome panels because everything is a standard Sprinter van.

Our van is also one that’s a proper motorhome manufacturer, La Strada, a German company, which we bought new at a UK dealer. So there were no modifications or self-built issues.

At the end of the day, this makes repairs so much easier, as all parts are in stock and next day delivery.

In the first few days after our accident, we submitted a formal complaint to LV, which was added to in the weeks that followed.

Despite chasing for a response by phone and e-mail, we never received one. After 8 weeks, if you haven’t received a response you can then take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. This is what we’ve had to do.

At the time of writing we still haven’t had a response to our complaint from LV and the Ombudsman is now investigating.

At the end of the day LV have brought our campervan back from Croatia and the repairs will be done at the best garage available. For this we are really grateful. However, the service in the first 72 hours fell short of anything close to acceptable. After that the repatriation was slow and not quite what we were lead to believe initially.

But, we like the way our claim person at the Accident Abroad team was available at the other end of the phone or e-mail. It was a personnel touch and he was always courteous and listened.

I really don’t know if another insurer would be any better, in fact, I can only imagine some being much worse. So in some ways it may be a case of better the devil you know.

The repairs on our motorhome are now underway, so we’re hoping to get our van back in the next few weeks. By the time it’s ready, it will be about 3 months since that fateful day in Croatia.

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  1. Thank you for your comments and interesting to hear of your own incident, not pleasant either, but glad you did get it sorted in the end – that seemed to take some time didn’t it? Totally agree with what you’re saying as we’ve said exactly the same about other insurance companies, this may be a good experience compared to others, but neither of us will ever know! Sometimes it’s better the devil you know. We also have travel insurance and they are absolutely terrible to deal with, in fact they make LV look pretty good in comparison!!
    Yes lets hope plenty of great travels ahead for both of us!!

  2. So sorry to read this awful experience but thank you for sharing such useful info.
    We also have a panel van conversion and are with LV and used them when in France last year when the windscreen broke …also on a BH weekend so had similar experiences. They did sort it out in the end but like you we had to do a lot of the legwork and calls and just had to put our faith in the place that was doing the replacement …I think 10 days later and 50 miles away if I recall. …fortunately we were able to drive the van there but waiting around for that time wasn’t easy …it was in that intense heatwave too. Since discovered that we shouldnt have been driving it but ….! Having said that Im not sure if any insurance company is going to be any better? It will be interesting to hear if others are the same! We were also withGreen Flag at the time. Right now we are looking at our next trip over Winter and debating whether to add the Breakdown offered by LV. Decisions decisions….
    Hope you get a decent response from LV and this experience doesn’t limit your future travels.

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