Can you drive abroad on your car insurance?
The good news is that, according to gov.uk, all UK car insurance policies come with at least the minimum level of third party cover that’s required for driving in the European Union.
It’s worth remembering that even if you have a fully comprehensive policy in the UK, some insurers will automatically drop the cover provided for Europe to third party only – which means if you have an accident then your insurance will cover the damage to the other cars, but not your own.
Others will keep the UK level of protection in place, so if you have a fully comprehensive policy in the UK, it will follow you across Europe.
Which countries are covered by European car insurance?
Most countries in Europe will be covered by a standard car insurance policy – but some won’t be covered, like Switzerland, Vatican City, Turkey and Russia. Always check your policy to make sure the European country you’re planning on travelling to is covered.
According to gov.uk, all UK car insurance provides the minimum third party cover to drive in other EU countries. The map above highlights countries in the EU and EEA that most insurers will provide cover for - but you should always check your policy.
Do you need to increase your car insurance to drive in Europe?
You may simply want to increase your cover for peace of mind, particularly if you only have third party insurance. Driving in an unfamiliar country can be nerve-wracking enough thanks to different infrastructures, rules, and driving on the other side of the road - without worrying about the level of your insurance cover.
And if there is a problem, not having the correct cover could cause extra stress, financial difficulties, or even risk ruining your holiday if you were to be stranded.
Also consider the value of your car, and how expensive it is to repair, because if you’re in an accident that’s not your fault and you have the wrong insurance, you’ll won’t be able to make a claim for any repairs required - and you could be left out of pocket.
Having an accident when driving in another country can be particularly stressful, as you might not be familiar with the local language, or how the authorities handle car accidents. For example, you might be expected to pay an instant fine, which you’d need to pay with cash.
Not having adequate and appropriate insurance would only make an already difficult situation worse. So before you set off on your trip, check what insurance cover you have to help you decide whether or not you need to add to it.
If you do decide to increase your level of cover, simply contact your insurer, let them know where you’re headed and what level you want to be insured for.
Do you need a green card for driving?
A green card is a certificate that acts as proof of insurance in Europe. This isn’t required in most countries anymore because of the establishment of the European Union and European Economic Area – EEA - but you will still need to take your insurance documents with you.
You should check with your insurer whether you need a green card and, if you do, make sure you get one before your trip. It could help when making a claim abroad, so take it with you and keep it safe with other documents while on your travels.
What to check with your insurer
If you’re planning on driving your car abroad, it’s a good idea to check:
- Your level of cover: check the level of cover you have for driving in the UK, and see if it matches the level of cover provided for the country you are planning to visit.
- The countries covered: make sure that the policy covers the country you are driving in. Some countries that are in Europe but outside the EU - such as Switzerland - may not be covered by your policy.
- The policy length: most policies will set a limit on the length of time you’ll be covered while driving abroad, which is usually between 30 and 90 days. You might need to pay an additional premium if you are away longer.
- How to boost your cover: check the options you have to boost the cover or extend the time period, if necessary. You might want to increase the level of cover if it’s basic third party.
- If a short-term policy is enough: if you’re only driving in the EU for a short period, is there a temporary or short-term European car insurance policy available? This typically covers you for up to 28 days, and can be a good idea if you’re only planning on taking a single trip in the year.
- Breakdown cover: if you have breakdown cover in the UK, can this be extended to Europe? Being stranded on the roadside abroad, where you might not speak the language, could ruin a holiday. You might want to buy additional European breakdown cover.
Compare car insurance quotes
Comparing quotes is essential when it comes to renewing your car insurance because it’s the best way to get a good price. You can compare cheap car insurance quotes using MoneySuperMarket’s comparison tool, and it’s always worth checking the policy results and policy documents to see how each insurer handles driving in Europe, and the level of cover the policy would include.
If you already have car insurance, you should check your policy before taking your car to Europe, and increase the protection provided if necessary.