Aug 132010
Culture Spain


I was prompted to write this as some close friends of ours had their car written off yesterday.  Thankfully, they were not in the car at the time, which was parked outside their villa.  Amazingly, the Spanish lady driver of the moving car was distracted by a wasp – to such an extent that she drove onto the wrong side of the road and crashed head on into my friend’s car!  Thankfully she was fine but our friend’s car took a major hit that has crumpled much of the front of the car.  As to the wasp, I have heard nothing more…

Of course, the only blessing to this accident, from my friend’s point of view, is that it will be a clear cut insurance claim.  They can, obviously, not be held liable and (in good time!) the claim will, doubtless, be settled in their favour.

Certainly, the course of car accidents in Spain matches, in my experience, exactly that of the UK.  If anyone is hurt then the police must be called immediately and always an exchange of details must be completed before either party leaves the scene of the accident.

Fortunately, everyone in Spain must, at all times, carry some form of identity with them.  In the case of the Spanish this is an obligatory identity card whilst foreigners should, at the very least, always carry their NIE number or passport.  This makes identifying people quick, relatively certain and easy.

When it comes to car accidents in Spain, insurance companies act exactly like those in the UK once a claim has been registered.  They will send an expert to check the state of a damaged vehicle and then decide upon how the claim is to be settled.  Obviously, if there is a dispute or injuries then this can sometimes take quite a while and will be handled by the insurance company lawyers.

Since living in Spain, I have had one major (head on!) accident and, some years ago, my wife had her car hit (not badly) by a lorry.  Both claims (thankfully we were blameless both times) proceeded just as if we had been in the UK – with one rather important difference!

The difference is that it is very hard to get compensation for any car rental fees incurred as a consequence of your car being badly damaged.  If your car insurance policy does not provide for car rental in the event of an accident then you are highly unlikely to be able to include this in your claim against the person who was to blame for the accident.

As you can imagine, not being able to claim for car rental fees in Spain is something to bear in mind – before you gaily rent another car to replace your damaged one, as your case meanders its way to settlement.  In the case of my head-on collision, my hoped for reimbusement of 600 Euros worth of car rental never occurred, despite 100% of the fault being declared as the other driver’s!

As always with the reality of daily Spanish culture – matters are invariably just a little different from our own country!  Sometimes, as with claiming back car rental fees in Spain, the difference can be expensive!

So, if you have an accident in Spain – be wary about renting another car, whilst feeling, mistakenly sure that the fees will be paid!  Indeed, it is well worth considering obtaining a car insurance policy in Spain that includes car rental cover in the event of an accident!

Incidentally, in case you get the impression that drivers in Spain are any worse than in the UK or elsewhere – then this has not been my experience.  Your chances of having a car accident in Spain are probably neither greater nor less than anywhere else in the world.  As a whole, I have found that the driving culture of Spain is generally fine (although the parking is totally – and rather wonderfully – chaotic!!).

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  6 Responses to “Car accidents in Spain”

  1. Three quick observations, comparing Spanish custom & practice with the UK.

    i) Spanish insurance companies are extremely owerful and presumptuous in their day to day dealings with their clients and it is virtually unknown for the innocent victim/ drivers to say to their own company “You keep out of this and I will deal directly with the insurers of the driver who caused the crash.” As a consequence you are always at a disadvantage in never having any dealings with the other company and you are invariably fobbed off by your own company who are only too pleased to tell you how slow, obdurate unreasonable the other company are but who will never let you deal directly with their rivals nor pressure them to perform.

    ii) Despite the value of the rules regarding carrying identity and filling in accident forms (the latter an insurance industry concept rather than a legal issue) there is nothing to prevent another motorist hitting your car and driving off. It is not infrequent in my experience. It last happened to me about 4 months ago and when I went to the police with the number plate and description of the car in question they were totally uninterested in the issue.

    Even if s/he does stop, they are not obliged to fill in the insurance form still less sign it.
    (A tip. fill in your own details before the accident. It saves time and it gives you the whip hand. Whoever produces the form and draws the scene of the accident has a head start.)

    iii) Insurance companies have at least 2 weeks before they need to even acknowledge a claim received and they use it.To the full.

    On the issue of paying for car rental, ultimately it is a question of the company which insured the driver at fault keeping their own costs to a minimum and gambling that you won´t go to court. Certainly your Spanish insurance company will not, in my experience, put any pressure on the other “rival” company on your behalf.

    Oh, one final point. Recommended compensation levels for personal injury are very low and restrictive by European standards and there is very little popular pressure that I can see to make them more realistic.

  2. Thank you for that – a good and helpful response to my Post. In fact, I have found (apart from the infuriating car hire issue!) that the two insurance companies that I have used were reasonably fair and efficient ref. the two claims (one major) that I have made. However, it is always great to hear someone else’s experiences.

  3. i was run over,whilst waitng for children to cross the pedestrian x-ing on my fully insured motorbike. the person who dragged me under his car,(no skid marks),was relealesd. his vehicle was not tested ,nor towed to be inspected.for the past two years,ive been fighting against the amputation of my leg. en fin;”se alguen tiene ganas,para matar un ser vivo,no hace falta una pistola.simplemente,hay que atrepellolo.” GUY WELMAN SCRATTON.

  4. Hi Guy,
    I’ve been wondering how you have been doing all these years.
    Hope your leg is better.

  5. Well well now Vanassesa, looks like you have been keeping busy. Hope all is well with you and the kids.Aloha,Guy.

  6. Very busy, still traveling around. Going to Hawai this summer

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