Hiring a car is an essential part of a holiday abroad for more than two fifths of drivers (43%), but one in five (20%) don’t like driving abroad, according to a new survey by Opinium, for iCarhireinsurance.com.

Nearly one in five (19%) say the locals drive too fast or crazy, and they don’t trust foreign drivers (17%), while a similar amount (18%) are just nervous about driving on the other side of the road, feeling they are more likely to have an accident (15%).

Over one in ten (12%) find left-hand drive cars more difficult to park; and the same amount (12%) have driven on the wrong side of the road by accident.

Parking abroad is a big issue for drivers, with nearly a fifth (17%) admitting to finding the parking rules confusing, and 14% admitting to parking in places where they were not sure it was allowed. It is a serious concern, though, and not just because of the risk of a ticket, as 3% say they have parked near a beach or river and returned to find the hire car flooded!

Nearly one in ten (8%) have had a parking ticket abroad; 4% have had to pay an on-the-spot fine; 3% have had a car clamped; and a further 3% had a car towed for parking in the wrong place. However, one in twenty (5%) have been let off a parking ticket when the parking officer realised they weren’t local.

It seems that fear of the unknown is a big reason for people not enjoying driving abroad, with 13% saying they wouldn’t know what to do if they broke down or had an accident and one in ten (10%) say they often don’t understand the road signs. Car hire drivers (8%) also worry about breaking local drink-driving rules by mistake.

Preparation is key, with nearly half (49%) of drivers saying that they plan routes before they arrive, and 45% ensure they have cash ready to pay for tolls etc.

Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO, iCarhireinsurance.com, said: “It’s understandable that people may feel nervous about driving in a different country, especially when the car is left-hand drive, and they have to drive on the other side of the road. However, preparation is key and hopefully by genning up on the rules of the road in the country you are visiting, and finding out what support is available from the rental company if you do break down, or have an accident, will reassure you. In fact, when it comes to damaging a hire car, the majority of our claims actually happen when the hire car is parked, so it isn’t actually the driving you have to worry about.”

He continues, “Nearly a third of hire car drivers are unaware that if their hire car is damaged or stolen, they are liable for the excess cost which is on average around £2,000*. Excess insurance can give valuable peace of mind, especially for those nervous about driving abroad.”

Rental desks charge on average £136* for a week’s excess cover, and often sell an additional tyre and windscreen policy for on average £31*. Whereas an excess policy from a specialist insurance provider, like iCarhireinsurance.com, covers damage, theft and tyre and windscreen cover, and starts from £2.99 a day for a European policy or £42.99 for an annual policy.”

Disclaimer: All prices contained in this article were correct on the original date of publication. Prices may change over time, so for current prices, please get a quote.