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Post by International Military Life Community Manager, Courtney Woodruff


Experiencing an auto accident is traumatic no matter where you are, but when you’re stationed overseas, foreign driving laws and language barriers add to the overwhelming emotions, stress, confusion, and chaos vehicle owners go through.


To be completely honest, I hadn’t thought much about what I would do in the event of such an emergency until a friend and coworker got into a car accident on the Autobahn during her morning commute. Thankfully, no one was hurt and her vehicle suffered only minor damage, but the incident caused me to take a step back and consider just how prepared I was to handle an auto accident overseas. As it turned out, I wasn’t nearly as ready as I would like to be.


After doing my research, I’ve made a list of actions to take if I find myself in an auto accident overseas. I plan to print it off and keep it in my glove box… just in case.



What to do in an auto accident overseas:


Call for help. Notify local law enforcement, first responders and military police (MP), and direct them to the scene of the accident. Administer first aid to minor cuts and bruises, but wait for medical teams to address serious injuries.


Put on reflective vests and set out warning triangles, if required by local law. In certain countries around the world, including Germany, Italy and Spain, reflective vests must be worn when passengers exit the vehicle on a motorway. It is best to carry as many vests as there are seats to ensure each passenger is covered in the event of an emergency. Additionally, many nations ask that warning triangles be placed along the road in the direction of traffic.


Document what happened. Write down the other vehicle’s license plate number, and take as many photos and notes as you need to communicate what happened as accurately as possible. The evidence you collect will help the insurance companies process claims more efficiently.


Collect contact information of potential witnesses. This will help in the event you need to reach out to someone to prove that the other party was at fault if liability is disputed. Also, it’s important to note that spouses, children or other kin are often not legally accepted as witnesses.


Fill out an International Accident Statement. It is highly recommended that you carry a copy of this form in your glove box at all times. Select the proper country from the list of options, and print the attached bilingual documents that will allow you to communicate with the other driver in the event of an accident. You fill in the English form while the other party completes the copy translated to his or her language. The documents are then submitted to the respective driver’s insurance company for processing.  


Refrain from signing anything except the International Accident Report. If you are approached by someone asking that you sign your name on any document other than the International Accident Report, you have the right to refuse. The accident report form allows each driver to share their side of the story without issuing blame. It is up to the authorities to investigate the cause of the accident.


Contact USAA to file a claim. As soon as you are safe, give the international auto team a call. Member service representatives are there to help you 24/7, seven days a week at 00-800-531-82220.


Do you have any additional tips or bits of information you’d like to share with fellow members about handling an auto accident in a particular country? We love to help each other out!


Additional Information:

Tips for Driving in Europe

Use These Tips to Stay Safe While Traveling Abroad

4 Tips for Traveling on a Budget

Check out the USAA – International FAQ


5 Ways Strategic Volunteering Can Help with Job GrowthAbout the Blogger: Courtney Woodruff is a military spouse, mom, writer, editor and web content manager currently living in Germany. She has a heart for our troops and their families and hopes to share what little she has learned along the way to help others overcome the unique challenges of military life. You can follow her adventures at her blog, Courtney At Home, or through her social media: InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest










Property and casualty insurance provided by United Services Automobile Association, USAA Casualty Insurance Company and USAA General Indemnity Company which are domiciled in Texas and are licensed in all 50 United States and D.C.; Guam, Puerto Rico, and/or the Virgin Islands; or USAA Limited, which is domiciled and licensed in the United Kingdom, and writes insurance under the Freedom of Services Directive in Azores, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Greece. USAA Limited is authorized by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Not all products are available to all applicants in all locations. Product availability may vary in some foreign locations due to local laws and restrictions.


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1 Comment
Regular Contributor

Don't call USAA. They will not help you. #FACTS