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A handy reference guide to driving in Spain brought to you by w w

Know Spanish? Know the law? Know what documents to carry? This essential guide prepares you if you are ever stopped by the Guadia Civil or involved in a fender bender

driving in spain & your car insurance

Driving in Spain and Your Insurance Published by Copyright Š 2009 No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except without the prior written permission of the publisher. Requests to the publisher for permission should be emailed to: Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of warranty: The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy of completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or website is referred to in this work as a citation and/ or potential source of further information does not mean that the author or the publisher endorses the information the organization or web site may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware that internet web sites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Driving in Spain


1.1. The Roads   1.1.2. Toll Roads   1.1.3. Roundabouts   1.1.4. Parking   1.2. Speed Limits   1.2.1. Speed Cameras   1.3. Traffic Signs   1.3.1. Sign Vocabulary   1.4. What you need in your vehicle   1.5. The Spanish Point System   1.6. What to do when stopped by the police   Chapter 2: Your Car Insurance


2.1. Third party and fully comprehensive   2.2. Saving money on your insurance   2.3. What to do when making a claim   2.4. Spanish Insurance/British Insurance   2.5. Extras   Index


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Chapter 1

Driving in Spain In This Chapter 1.1. The roads 1.2. Speed limits 1.3. Traffic signs 1.4. What you need in your vehicle 1.5. Spanish point system 1.6. What to do when stopped by the police


riving in a foreign country is never easy. New roads, unfamiliar landmarks, unknown place names, different signs, and if you’re from the UK you’ll probably be driving on the other side of the road too.

1.1. The Roads Spanish roads today are considerably better than they were just a few years ago. We now have many decent dual carriage ways and some great free and toll motor ways have been built. You still find the odd pot-holed roads but these are gradually being replaced by new gentler ones.

1.1.1. Motor ways There are two classes of roads in Spain that we would describe as a Motorway. The Autovia - which will have an A designation (e.g. A-7), and the Auto Pista with an AP designation (e.g. AP-7). There may not be a great deal of difference between the two, regulations are similar, though the latter is likely to have wider hard shoulders, longer acceleration lanes at junctions, and may be a toll road.

1.1.2. Toll Roads Some Auto Pistas in Spain are toll roads but signs directing you towards them will clearly indicate this with the word “Toll”. (Peaje) The costs vary though and some tolls are considerably more than others.. However, you may find that a particular Auto Pista does have not have a toll on its entire length, particularly near cities where it is busier The AP-7 from Alicante to Barcelona for instance, is only a toll road for approximately half of its distance.

1.1.3. Roundabouts The roundabout is a recent introduction into Spain and most Spanish don’t seem to have fully understand the rules of the roundabout yet. Most do not understand that if you want to go round the roundabout (anticlockwise) you need to be in the left lane as you approach it. The majority will simply dive unexpectedly from the right lane into the roundabout, cutting up anyone coming along in the left lane. You just don’t expect it and I can’t understand why they risk everything just to get round a roundabout. Just be careful and watch the car to your right of you may just lose the front of yours. 2 DRIVING IN SPAIN & YOUR CAR INSURANCE


1.1.4. Parking Pay attention to parking laws. If you leave the car too long or park in a restricted area, your car may be towed. A sticker is left on the curb telling you where the car has been taken. The fines and fees are high to get your car back. Dealing with some companies is difficult if you don’t speak Spanish.

1.2. Speed Limits There are general speed limits for each of the different types of roads in Spain: •

120 km/h on motor ways

100 km/h on dual carriage ways.

90 km/h on single carriage way roads.

50 km/h in towns.

Roads also tend to have speed limits for bends and advisory speed limits if it is raining (lluvia). Regardless of the official speed limit, however, the prevailing rule is that drivers must adapt their speeds to adverse road and weather conditions – in other words going more slowly, if necessary since in an area where it does not rain very often, it can be surprisingly slippery when it does.

1.2.1. Speed Cameras Speed cameras are becoming more used throughout Spain. There are the fixed type as well as mobile cameras on tripods by the side of the road. The fixed cameras are not as obvious as those in the UK but there are signs posted that you are entering a camera area.

NOTE: You are not allowed to have a radar speed detector in your vehicle, let alone use one.

1.3. Traffic Signs Signposts in Spain are often inadequate, this is especially true in most rural areas. Most road signs are international, but as with just about everything else in Spain there are local idiosyncrasies. In some areas, direction signs disappear (this seems to happen most when you are nearly at your chosen destination - a shopping mall for example!) and signs out of towns are non-existent or are extremely hard to find. Make sure you have a good map! In and around many major cities, the signs can be very confusing, this is due to the vast number of roads, routes and destinations.

TIP: Look out for the road number, as well as the name of your destination. Often only road numbers or towns are listed, and not both.

Most traffic signs are the same as in other European countries but painted lines marking carriage ways and the sides of the road are many times faded. andalucía, the Canaries Islands and Madrid are said to have the best maintained traffic signs. 5 DRIVING IN SPAIN & YOUR CAR INSURANCE


1.3.1. Sign Vocabulary bus stop



cruce curve — curva



dead end

sin salida


desvío, desviación

downtown, city center






no entry

entrada prohibida

no passing

adelantamiento prohibido


de sentido único, sentido obligatorio


estacionamiento, aparcamiento (Parking is sometimes symbolized by a capital E or capital P, depending on the region.)






prohibido, prohibida

road closed

camino cerrado



speed bump



alto, pare or stop, depending on the region

speed limit

velocidad máxima (typically indicated in kilometers per hour, often abbreviated km/h


peaje, cobro


vista de interés


ceda, ceda el paso

1.4. What you need in your vehicle The following items must be carried at all times when driving in Spain. •

Drivers license

Insurance documents including an insurance accident report form, to be filled in if involved in an accident. Also, receipt proving vehicle insurance (usually issued by your bank)

Ownership documents (or rental documents), including ITV record Card (Spanish equivalent of the MOT) and your matriculation card (vehicle id details) for the vehicle.

Wearers of spectacles should carry a spare pair

Fluorescent jacket (for all occupants) to be worn if you get out of your car on the hard shoulder of a motorway or major road.



Two warning triangles to use as a warning if broken down

Fire extinguisher (recommended)

Spare light bulbs and fuses along with the tools to change them.

First-aid kit (recommended)

1.5. The Spanish Point System The new Spanish point system starts with points that can be deducted due to driving offences, rather than the UK system were points are added. In Spain drivers start with 8 points and those who already have three plus years start with 12 points. Drivers can earn two extra points after an additional three years with no offences. The maximum amount of point is 15 - one more point awarded after three more years with a clean record. The points are to be deducted when the fine becomes fixed. When you receive the letter with the fine there are three things you can do.: •

Pay up within a month and get a 30% discount and get the points deducted.

Launch an appeal within 15 days.

Do nothing! Beware, if you do nothing the fine is considered fixed after a month and your points will be deducted. If you don’t the fine unpaid, it will be taken from your next tax rebate or your bank account.

You can check your points balance at the Traffic Department website – (Only available in Spanish). There are courses you can take once every two years, consisting of 12 hours of classes for a cost of €170. You are guaranteed to earn 4 points at the end of the course. If you have lost your license you must take another course at the cost of € 320. This course is 24 hours in total. If you pass the final exam you will receive 8 points. NOTE: Passengers can lose points too. If you are a passenger in a car and not wearing your seat belt when stopped your license will be deducted the three points, even if the driver is wearing his. Following is a list of ways you can loose points in Spain: Speeding - Between 2 and 6 points depending on how far above the speed limit you were travelling. Using the mobile phone or any other apparatus considered a distraction – 3 points. Not using your seat belt or helmet for bike riders – 3 points. Drink driving – 4 or 6 points.



Points can also be lost in the following circumstances: 2 points will be taken for: Dangerous parking Using radar speed trap detectors Forgetting to turn on your headlights Taking a child under 12 as a passenger on a motorbike 7



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3 points will be taken for: Making an illegal turn Driving too close to the vehicle in front 4 points will be taken for: Driving without the correct license Taking a vehicle onto a motorway that is not authorized Reversing on a motorway Dangerous driving or overtaking Blocking another driver from overtaking Jumping a red light Disobeying police instructions Throwing any dangerous objects from the car – this includes cigarette butts Driving with too many people in the vehicle 6 points will be taken for: For extreme dangerous driving, which could be, for example, taking part in racing, driving against the traffic and so on. Professional drivers risk losing six points if they do not respect official rest periods

1.6. What to do when stopped by the police If you are pulled over, don’t compound your problems by not putting on your safety jacket. Spanish law states that these must be worn whenever you stop by the side of a highway. Remember to put your jackets on before you get out of the car. There must be a safety jacket for each person in the vehicle. If you are a tourist, the Police are entitled to ask you to pay your fine immediately. If you can prove that you reside in Spain you can pay sometimes later. If you are unable to pay immediately, the police can impound your vehicle. It then makes sense to pay immediately, especially as there is a 20% “discount” if you do. Make sure you get a receipt.



Chapter 2

Your Car Insurance In This Chapter 2.1. Third party and fully comprehensive 2.2. Saving money on your insurance 2.3. What to do when making a claim 2.4. Spanish insurance/British insurance 2.5. Extras


our vehicle must have at least third party insurance and you must carry proof of this insurance at all times. This should be in the form of a receipt, usually from your bank. In general, Spanish insurance companies will not issue new documents every year so this receipt is essential. The police check for your receipt to see that your insurance is still current.

2.1. Third party and fully comprehensive Third party: Seguro de terceros o de responsabilidad civil obligatoria Fully comprehensive: Seguro a todo riesgo

2.1.1. Third Party This is the minimum legal insurance requirement and may be an option for insuring an old car with little financial value. It covers damage to third party cars that have been involved in an accident plus any personal injuries suffered by third parties. Some insurance can be purchased with optional extras such as road-side assistance, replacement windscreens and replacement vehicles while your’s is in the garage. You must have at least third party insurance even if your car is off the road.

2.1.2. Fully Comprehensive Fully comprehensive insurance will cover most eventualities including material damage or injuries to both third parties and the insured. Fire, theft and malicious damage are also usually covered. If you decide to purchase this level of coverage and your car is not “brand new�, a loss adjustor (uno perito) will be sent to inspect your vehicle and the equipment in it such as audio and navigation equipment. The loss adjustor will provide a valuation of your vehicle to the insurance provider. As with third party cover, the exact policy details may differ from provider to provider so make sure you check compare quotes carefully, checking exactly what is and is not covered. Fully Comprehensive insurance is often mandatory when you have bought a vehicle on finance or have a lease agreement.



2.2. Saving money on your insurance •

Car insurance can be expensive but there are a few things you can do in order to keep your premiums to a minimum. Obviously, keeping a clean driving licence and driving safely – insurance companies like low risk drivers with a good driving record. If you are changing insurance providers, make sure to take proof of a no-claims certificate from your old insurance provider.

If you have more than one car, insure both cars with the same insurance provider and obtain a multicar discount.

Pay annually if you can.

Fit alarms, immobilizers and/or tracking devices for other discounts.

There are often more favourable policies available to the over 50 age group.

Named drivers earn a no-claims bonus- which might be beneficial for future renewals. This might be slightly more expensive to start with but should bring discounts over the long term.

Excess (franquicia) – some providers will specify an excess and some offer ‘flexifranquicia’ allowing you to choose your excess amount. The more excess you choose — the cheaper the premium. Less excess — higher premiums.

Fortunately the Spanish insurance system operates on a no-claims bonus scheme (bonification/sistema bonus-malus). Evidence of no prior claims will need to be provided. I If you are in an accident that was caused by an uninsured vehicle, the damaged/injured party is entitled to compensation from the Insurance Compensation Pool (Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros).

2.3. What to do when making a claim As soon as you receive your policy documents make sure your familiarise yourself with the policy and the European Accident Form. If you should loose this form there is a link on the Car Supermarket website where you can download a replacement ( Ask your insurance provider what their procedures are — can you use any garage or do you need to go to a specific one. In case of an accident, call the police and have them write an official accident report. You will need this report to make a claim. If the situation requires medical attention: Phone the ambulance on 061 or 112. If no one is injured: Phone the Guardia Civil on 062 or the Local Police on 092. Complete the European Accident Form with as much detail as you can. Record all phone numbers of the other parties involved. If you have a camera with you try to take pictures. As soon as you can phone your insurance provider immediately on the 24 hour claims number on your policy.

2.3.1 The Claims Process This should be relatively simple and involves: A. The loss adjustor will visit to estimate the cost of fixing the damage. The perito may not speak English so it may be advisable to have a friend who does help you with this. 10 DRIVING IN SPAIN & YOUR CAR INSURANCE


B. Claims that are not covered by your insurance provider may be referred to the Spanish Consorcio. A small percentage of your insurance premium, for Spanish plated vehicles only, is set aside for “acts of god” — such as extraordinary weather conditions and national disasters. If this has happened to you, you will need to go through the Consorcio’s complaints procedure. See for more information.

2.4. Spanish Insurance/British Insurance In Spain it is the vehicle that is insured and not the person – most motor insurances in Spain will cover the main driver and any driver over a certain age (usually 25/30 years old). You cannot drive anyone else’s car under your own insurance. You need to be covered under their vehicle policy. Third Party cover in the UK is usually associated with fire and theft. Be careful! Don’t automatically assume that your third party cover in Spain includes fire and theft. If you do want fire and theft to be covered, you will have to ask your agent to either add it on to the basic third party cover or you may need to elect a fully comprehensive cover instead.

2.5. Extras Remember it is illegal to tow in Spain so it is advisable to sign up for road assistance – ask your insurance provider if it is included in your policy or whether you need to pay extra for this. Foreign registered cars in Spain can only be driven on Spanish roads for six months in any one calendar year. If you are driving a UK plated car, carry proof that you have not been in Spain for more than 6 months If the car spends over six months of the year in an EU country other than Spain it is necessary to take out 365 days European coverage from specialist insurance providers in the UK. EU regulations mean that all vehicles must be insured in the country in which they are registered. Therefore if the car is UK-registered it cannot be insured with a Spanish provider. The vehicle can, however, be insured with a British insurer in Spain, by using the Spanish branch of a UK insurance provider.






Auto Pista 4 Autovia 4

Making a claim 10 Motor ways 4



Claims Process 10

No-claims bonus 10 Bonification/sistema bonus-malus 10

D Driving Courses 7

E European Coverage 11 Excess 10 Flexifranquicia 10 Franquicia 10

P Parking 5 Peaje 4 Points 7

R Radar Detector 5 Rain 5 Roundabouts 4

F Fully Comprehensive Insurance 9 Seguro a todo riesgo 9

I Insurance 9 Consorcio de Compensaci贸n de Seguros 10 Insurance Compensation Pool 10 ITV 6

L Loss Adjustor 9 Perito 9

S Save Money 10 Sign Vocabulary 6 Speed Cameras 5 Speed Limits 5

T Third Party Insurance 9 Seguro de terceros o de responsabilidad civil obligatoria 9 Toll Roads 4 Towing a vehicle 11 Traffic Signs 5





Carsupermarket driving in Spain quick reference guide  

Carsupermarket driving in Spain quick reference guide