When things go bump on a Spanish road, fear not…

2 Feb

Until recently, I was among tens of thousands of expat motorists who feared that coping with a road accident in Spain would represent the ultimate ordeal.

OK, we would all have a problem if the other party involved was as physically aggressive as some of the lunatic speeders I see on Spanish roads (which incidentally are a lot less congested than their UK counterparts).

I’m talking about the stress, not only of having a bump, but of negotiating all the red tape that inevitably follows a collision. You know, things like accident report forms, dealing with insurance companies, organising repairs and the general inconvenience of it all.

Well, now I know – thanks to a blind young idiot who drove out of a service station near Alicante Airport straight onto the main road – and into my little Kia Picanto. In a Smart hire car of all things.

And I can now reveal that getting it sorted ain’t anywhere near as bad as you might fear.

My Kia got the worst of it and while it remained driveable, the front offside ended up looking rather mangled. But I was lucky on several points. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, I had a passenger who speaks fluent Spanish – and the young man who hit me so Smartly was working for a major car rental firm.

In fact, he had been filling hire cars with fuel all day, which came in useful as an excuse. ‘‘Lo siento. Estoy muy cansado y no vi su coche,’’ he told my friend Beverley Ballesteros as we filled in the obligatory accident report form. In other words, he was very tired and simply did not see my car.

Until that moment, I had no idea that such a report form existed. But what a good concept it is (not that the UK would ever adopt anything thought up by foreigners, of course).

The idea is that both parties in any accident fill in their respective versions of what happened – and also draw a diagram of the collision.

There were a couple of these multi-coloured forms in my glove compartment, where I had deposited all the documents relating to the car soon after I bought it in 2007. Just as well I remembered they were there!

Fortunately there was no dispute about the circumstances of the accident so filling in the details was a formality, complete with a mutually-agreed illustration of the point of impact. Even if my contribution did look like the weavings of a spider across a technicolor web.

Since the Smart car was insured on the car-hire company’s all-embracing Axa policy, I already knew the scenario would not cost me financially. And from the professional and helpful way my insurers, Linea Direct, subsequently dealt with my side of the argument, I have absolutely no doubt they would have got me home muy pronto even had the Kia been undriveable.

And what’s more, there’s no need to worry if your Spanish is not up to it – because their staff speak perfect English.

As it was, I was able to limp back to my house in Guardamar – some 25 miles away – with only the car showing any bruises. Even though it was a Sunday I was able to make contact with Linea Direct – and within 24 hours all the relevant details, including the accident report form, were in their hands via phone and email.

Since there was no dispute over blame, all that was left was for me to arrange a repairer. And I doubt I could have found a better or more helpful, convenient and efficient company than the British-owned Elite Chapa Y Pintura, who were recommended to me by a friend.

The only inconvenience during the entire episode had to leave the car at Elite’s repair centre in Los Montesinos – ten minutes from where I live – for the Linea Direct assessor to sanction the repairs.

OK, I was without the vehicle for half a day, but since Elite provided me with a lift home and returned my vehicle after the assessor’s visit, I have no complaints.

As for as the actual repairs, they were completely painless since I was by then away in England. Elite collected the car from outside my home just hours after I headed to Manchester for a family visit. And two days later it was back, gleaming and pristine, to await the inspection of its returning owner.

My ordeal was behind me, my Kia looked as good as new, and I still had my full no-claims bonus. My fears about coping had been banished.

So if you’re an expat motorist worrying that it might happen to you, don’t. Apart from the initial shock of the accident, I’d go through it all again. Any time.

Providing it’s only a little bump, of course.

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