Almost a quarter of British adults will drive abroad this summer, in their own car or one they have hired, and many admit the thought makes them anxious. Yet the majority will not take simple steps to reduce the chances of something costly going wrong.

Financial website GoCompare said that 19 per cent of travellers feel stressed about getting behind the wheel overseas, while only 39 per cent are fully confident, with driving on the opposite side of the road, different signage, rules and regulations the main causes of concern.

In many cases, they are right to be worried. One in ten are likely to be stopped by foreign police and, according to insurer Admiral, a quarter of all accidents involving British drivers happen in August, the peak month for driving overseas.

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Nevertheless, GoCompare said, 71 per cent of drivers taking their car abroad will not bother to check if they are fully covered by their insurer, and 35 per cent rarely or never research motoring requirements for their destination.

When the comparison site analysed 263 comprehensive policies it found that while 89 per cent cover foreign use as standard, only 10 per cent give full cover in exchange for an extra payment and the remainder do not provide any overseas protection at all. The timespan covered varies too, lasting from eight to 365 days a year.

Drivers should not assume that their breakdown policy will be valid either. Just 11 per cent of policies provide EU cover, 46 per cent are UK-only and the remaining 43 per cent will add cover for a further premium.

Matt Oliver, spokesperson for GoCompare, said: “Call your insurer to discuss your plans and, if necessary, upgrade your policy to foreign use, which will provide comprehensive cover to drive in Europe. Otherwise, if your car is stolen or damaged, you could be in for a very nasty and very expensive shock.”

There are important differences in driving rules, including speed limits, traffic signals and priorities, between countries, so drivers should research these before leaving home.

Many European countries require drivers to carry a ?rst aid kit, ?re extinguisher, warning triangle, re?ective jacket, headlamp beam re?ectors and spare bulbs.

Those heading to France must have a personal breathalyser kit with two disposable testing units, and if children under 10 will be in the front seat, a special restraint is a legal necessity.

Anyone going to Paris, Lyon or Grenoble has to display a windscreen sticker showing their vehicle’s emissions levels.

Wherever you are driving, you must take your original log-book as proof of ownership. Leased vehicles need a VE103 ‘vehicle on hire’ certificate to prove they have permission to go abroad.

You will also need both your driving licence and your insurance certificate. There must be a GB sticker clearly visible on the back of your vehicle if the number plate does not have one.

And remember to check oil, water, windscreen washer ?uid, tyre wear and pressure and to programme your insurer’s details into your phone before setting off.

If you are hiring a car, read the small print carefully before signing the paperwork and make sure any existing damage is recorded by the hire firm.

According to insurance website iCarhireinsurance, one in three hirers feel their provider misled them about the total price and more than half were shocked by the cost of extras.

The firm’s chief executive Ernesto Suarez said there are a number of steps drivers can take to keep costs down.

“Take your own child’s car seat and satnav, don’t just pick them up from the rental company, and buy your excess waiver insurance from a specialist insurance company before you travel,” he said.

“Think carefully about putting that extra driver on the rental policy, and always make sure you know the fuel policy when you book.”

All drivers going to the Continent should download a European accident form, which goes by different names in different countries.

If you are involved in an accident, note the exact location, date and time. Take pictures of all vehicles involved, showing their registration plates, and get names, addresses, phone numbers and email details for any witnesses.

Call your insurer immediately for advice on what to do next, and do not sign anything unless you understand every word.

If the incident involves another driver, they should present you with an accident form in the local language, which you must complete. Use your English version to understand the information required for each section.

Lorna Connelly, head of claims at Admiral, said: “To ensure an accident doesn’t ruin your holiday, we’re calling on all drivers to make sure they’re well informed, so if the worst should happen, they are properly prepared.”