EIGHT Tips for Dealing with a Car Accident in Italy

If only all my topics could be fun…

And if only a car accident in Italy wouldn’t happen to you. It did to me. I’d stopped at a crosswalk to let a man walk his bike across and, SCREEECCCCHHHHH BOOM! I’d been rear-ended. Then I had to reach into the memory banks of all that I learned in the intensive courses in driving school to navigate a very specific and slightly complicated process. (If you haven’t done it already, I encourage you to read my post about why, as a resident in Italy, you’re required to have an Italian driver’s license).

But, I digress from this all-important topic of driving in Italy.

Preparation is everything.

If you remember one overarching message, it’s this. Without putting yourself in the mindset of “What if?” you could find your Italian experience turning into a very uncomfortable one. You could find yourself feeling caught unawares. That’s why I’m sharing my experience and my EIGHT TIPS on dealing with a car accident in Italy in the YouTube video below—to let my learning benefit you.

You may be the best driver in the world, but…

That will only get you so far. Predictably unpredictable. That’s how I would describe the driving experience in Italy. Interpretation of the driving rules and laws can often be considered, by drivers, as “subject to interpretation” or “suggestions.” Of course, I must point out that American drivers are by no means blameless in this regard either. It’s just that, from my experience in Italy, driving is a bit more creatively and spontaneously managed. (It’s also one of the reasons I believe I carved off a few years of my life by driving in Rome when we had an apartment there).

So, the underlying message is that, in my opinion, you need to be an excellent defensive driver here and you need to be constantly mindful of what is happening around you. And, ultimately, you might find yourself in an accident that isn’t your fault.

Driving school will help you prepare.

Instead of weeping and gnashing your teeth at the perceived unfairness of having to return to driving school after driving decades “back home,” consider this an opportunity. And, attending driving school is obligatory for U.S. citizens, since Italy doesn’t allow transfer of an American driver’s license.

So, let’s jump into the video.

1. Know the language.

2. Decide who to call based on the severity of the accident.

3. Employ your road hazard gear.

4. Fill out your Modulo Blu form.

5. Take photos to record details of the accident.

6. Get your documents ready for the police.

A special call-out here and one that I can’t emphasize enough: If you have been registered as a resident in Italy for a year or more, than you are required by law to have an Italian driver’s license. If not, you’re driving illegally and can have your car impounded and you can be subject to increased/additional fines and liabilities. The mere fact of having a car registered in your name tells the police you are a resident since you cannot own a car without being a resident. It doesn’t take much for the police to go into the computer database and see how long you’ve been a resident. You’ll undoubtedly hear stories of expats who have been skating under the radar in this regard while thinking they can drive indefinitely on an American driver’s license. DON’T RISK IT!

7. Confirm the accuracy of the report (Modulo Blu)  and sign.

8. Take your Modulo Blu copy to your insurance company.

So, my friends, that’s my advice on the “biggies” when it comes to navigating being involved in a car accident in Italy. It is by no means exhaustive and it is no substitute for you studying the particulars in greater depth. Every situation is different. Fortunately, my fender bender was a minor one. But, without being prepared and knowing what to expect I’m certain my stress level would have been through the roof!


By |2019-02-20T12:59:28+01:00February 20th, 2019|Driving in Italy|6 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Robert Crivellone February 25, 2019 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Hi Jed,
    A very timely article for me, I just passed my esami di guida. I now have my Italian drivers license. I studied for three months to pass the theory (written) test and I actually didn’t find it that difficult. Give me multiple choice on a computer anytime. I failed the driving test the first time due to my non proficiency of the language, ma sto imparando! I got lucky the second time as a young Italian girl had rattled the examiner before me and he was happy to let an experienced driver pass.
    Your article will help me be prepared if I unfortunately am involved in an accident!
    Thank you,

    • Jed February 28, 2019 at 9:14 am - Reply

      Bravo! What a process. Multiple choices on an exam are always welcome, but only four errors out of forty questions (90%) is a bit strict for passing, which is why a fair number of Italians fail the written exam first time around. If you were like me I bet you studied the various forms the questions could take on a particular topic, always with the one “twist” of word or phrase that could yield a different answer. Fortunately, I had only one error and that’s because my computer-generated version of the exam presented me with a version of the word for “winter tires” that wasn’t familiar to me. As for the driving test, my stress point was getting stuck behind an emergency vehicle for about five minutes, but fortunately, I passed! I’m so glad this experience is firmly in the rearview mirror!

  2. Debra February 20, 2019 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    Buongiorno, Jed!

    Your blog was perfect timing. Now I know once I get a bit settled what I’ll be working on!
    Which way do you think best…buy my Fiat here and ship it? Or, buy once I get there? I’ve been going back and forth…??
    I will be in Sulmona the first week of April with my friend Marilyn. My brother who flips houses in Florida is meeting us there to see the house as well. Will you be in Sulmona at that time?
    Anyhow, thank you for all your articles. You’re my go-to guy for everything about living in Italy. I read them all over and over.
    Ciao, mio amico….or amico mio…oh! I have so much to learn!!

    • Jed February 21, 2019 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      Ciao, Debra! I’d buy your car here in Italy to avoid any complications of export/import and any duties. I know you get a one-time household goods exclusion but I don’t how it works with a car. Also, you don’t want to run into car engine and emission specs that might be different. I met a woman who moved her car and ran into all sorts of problems because of this and ended up trying to skirt the system and register her car in Germany to a friend’s address. Then there are the insurance complications. Might you do a cost comparison with a dealer there in the States and a dealership in Abruzzo? If you find a seemingly better deal in the States then I’d recommend talking to a company that specializes in shipping cars abroad (with solid Italian import experience).
      I’ll be in Abruzzo in a few weeks but not the dates you’ll be there (unless something changes). STay in touch and don’t hesitate to ask questions!

  3. Nancy February 20, 2019 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Jed. Thanks for this. I had no idea. I’ve just downloaded the Modello blu PDF which I’m printing out to keep in our cars. One question. You said “your copy” of the modello. Do you have to fill out multiple copies at the scene so everyone has a copy? I was a little confused about that. Thinking there’s not a copier handy.

    • Jed February 20, 2019 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Nancy, good question about the copies. There are copies in triplicate. You just make sure to bear down enough when you fill out the form and you’ll be fine! You rip off your copy and go!

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