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European car insurance

European Car Insurance

Sara Newell
Written by  Sara Newell
5 min read
Updated: 05 Mar 2024

Are you planning to drive in Europe? You’ll be happy to know that it is easy for UK motorists to cruise through European countries. That said, it is important to make sure you are covered in the event of any unwanted mishaps along the way.

Can I drive in Europe after Brexit?

The post-Brexit landscape can be a bit of a puzzle, especially when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of driving across Europe. If you're planning a road trip or need to drive in the EU for any reason, you might be wondering: what's changed? Let's break down the essentials so you can hit the road with confidence.

European road in the hills

UK insurers and European coverage

Most UK insurers will offer cover for driving in Europe even after Brexit. However, the level of insurance coverage you have at home may not be the same when you take your vehicle abroad. To avoid any unwelcome surprises, it's wise to consider arranging extra protection. Before you embark on your journey, make sure you have all the necessary documents in your glove compartment and don't forget to display a UK sticker on your car.

Simplified agreements

Fortunately, new agreements have made the process of driving in Europe post-Brexit a bit simpler. But, as with any international travel, it's important to stay informed about the requirements and regulations that apply to UK drivers abroad.

What is a green card?

A green card is an international insurance certificate that is recognized in 48 countries, including all EU countries. This document proves that you have the necessary minimum insurance coverage required by the country you're visiting.

Applying for a green card

Previously, green cards were not issued automatically, and you had to apply through your insurer, which could take up to six weeks. But there's been a significant change you should be aware of.

Do I need a green card?

As of August 2021, a green card is not required for driving in the EU, thanks to a deal made between the UK and Europe. This means that if you’re driving anywhere in the EU, you won’t need a green card. Your UK insurance will cover you, just like it did before Brexit.

Driving without a green card

You can drive without a green card in several non-EU countries, including Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Serbia (excluding Kosovo), Switzerland, and Vatican City.

Where you still need a green card or local insurance

However, there are countries in Europe where you still need a green card or must purchase local insurance: Albania, Belarus, Moldova, North Macedonia, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. In Kosovo, which is not part of the green card system, local insurance can be bought at the border for about 15 euros.

How do I apply for a green card?

If you're planning to drive outside the EU, you'll need to contact your insurer to apply for a green card. Many insurers allow you to download and print the green card yourself, although some may charge a fee for processing.

Will I need a green card for driving in Ireland?

For those wondering about Ireland, rest assured that a green card is not needed for driving there or anywhere else in the EU.

What else do I need for driving in Europe?

When driving in Europe post-Brexit, you'll need to have several documents on hand:

  • Your driving licence

  • An international driving permit (IDP) in some cases

  • Your vehicle's logbook (V5C)

  • Your car insurance certificate

  • Travel insurance documents

An IDP is not necessary if you have a photo card driving licence, except for licences from certain territories like Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, or Gibraltar. From the 28th of September 2021, UK cars must display a UK mark, making the previous GB identifier invalid. A UK sticker is required if your number plate has GB, a national flag, or no country indicator, and it's mandatory in Cyprus, Malta, or Spain regardless of the number plate. Additionally, headlamp converters are necessary to prevent dazzling other drivers, and you must comply with local laws, such as carrying a high-vis vest in France.

What type of European car insurance will I need for driving in Europe?

In the EU, third-party car insurance is the minimum requirement. However, third-party insurance might not be enough for accidents involving your own vehicle. Even if you have fully comprehensive cover in the UK, don't assume it will offer the same protection abroad. It's crucial to check your policy for the level of cover, countries included, the duration of the policy, and whether it includes European breakdown cover.

Do I need extra cover if I’m driving in Europe?

If you need extra cover in Europe, inform your insurer as they may offer it for a fee. Alternatively, you might want to consider short-term car insurance for more comprehensive options.

How much does European car insurance cost for driving in Europe?

If you already have a UK car insurance policy, you're in luck. At least 30 days of European third-party cover is included at no extra cost. Upgrading your cover will incur additional costs due to the increased risks associated with driving abroad.

How can I get cheaper European car insurance for driving in Europe?

To reduce costs, select only the necessary extras and take advantage of a solid no claims discount if you have one. Comparing prices online can also lead to cheaper European cover.

Are driving laws different in Europe?

While the basic road rules in Europe are similar to the UK, it's essential to research specific speed limits and regulations for each country. Some European countries have unique road laws, such as mandatory safety equipment or lighting requirements.

Tips for driving in France

When driving in France, remember to carry change for tolls, drive on the right, and adhere to speed limits.

How old do you need to be to drive in Europe?

The legal driving age in Europe is 18, and a full driving licence is required. Car rental companies may have a minimum age requirement of 21.

Compare European car insurance quotes

To find the best deal for your European adventure, use MoneySuperMarket to compare car insurance quotes online. You'll be able to sort through deals by their monthly and annual cost, coverage, and the excess required for claims. Once you've found the perfect quote, you can finalize your purchase directly on the provider's website.

Striking the right balance between price and policy is key to ensuring you're neither over- nor under-insured. With the right preparation and knowledge, driving in Europe can be a smooth and enjoyable experience, even after Brexit. Safe travels!

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