UK car insurance policies come with at least the minimum level of cover required for driving in the European Union. Some insurers automatically drop the cover provided to third party, while others maintain the UK level of protection. You should check your policy before taking your car to Europe, and increase the protection provided if necessary.
Have you got the right car insurance?
Having an accident abroad can be particularly stressful, as you might not be familiar with the local language or how such events are handled by the authorities.
Not having adequate and appropriate insurance in place would only make a difficult situation even worse. So well before you set off, check what insurance cover you have, and determine whether you need to add to it.
When you insure your car in the UK, you are automatically covered for driving in Europe. However, your insurer might downgrade the level of protection to the most basic level – that is, third party, or the minimum level required for the country you are visiting.
Third party cover doesn’t protect your for damage to your car or any injuries you suffer as the result of an accident that is your fault. It simply protects any other people and vehicles in the event of an accident where you are deemed liable.
What to check with your insurer
- What level of cover you have for driving in the UK (comprehensive, third party fire & theft, or third party)
- What level of cover is provided for the country you are planning to visit, and whether this is the same as on home soil or downgraded.
- Does the policy cover for the country you’re visiting? Some countries that are in Europe but outside the EU (such as Switzerland or Norway) may not be covered by your policy.
- How many days you are allowed to be away. Most insurers impose a limit of, for example, 30 days’ cover for driving abroad. You may have to pay an additional premium if you are going to be away longer.
- What the options are to boost this cover or extend the time period, if needed. You may want to increase the level of cover, particularly if it’s basic third party.
- If you’re only driving in the EU for a short period, is there a temporary or short-term European car insurance policy on offer? This typically covers for up to 28 days, and can be worthwhile if you are only taking a single trip in the year.
- If you have breakdown cover in the UK, can this be extended to Europe? Being stranded on the roadside abroad, where you don’t speak the language, could ruin a holiday. You might want to buy additional European breakdown cover.
A green card
Ask your insurer whether you need a green card. In most countries this isn’t required any more, but you will need to take your insurance documents. If it is required, make sure you get one from your insurer before your trip.
A green card is a certificate that acts as proof of insurance in Europe. It could help when making a claim abroad, so take it with you and keep it safe with other documents while on your travels.
When to increase your cover
You may simply want to increase your cover for peace of mind, particularly if it’s third party. Driving in a country you’re unfamiliar with can be nerve-wracking enough, without worrying about the level of your insurance cover. If you find yourself running into difficulties, this could cause extra stress, financial difficulties, or even risk ruining your holiday.
Also consider the value of your car, and how expensive it is to repair. Remember if you suffer an accident that’s not your fault, you will be unable to make a claim for any repairs required which could leave you substantially out of pocket.
What to look out for
- Suitability of policy: If you are only likely to be driving on the Continent for a relatively short period, you may be able to get a temporary or short term European car insurance policy. This will typically cover you for between one and 28 days.
- Policy length: Most policies will impose a limit on the length of time you’ll be covered while driving abroad, which is usually 90 days.
- Extended cover small print: Always make sure you read the small print and double check, as this can vary across insurers. If you are planning on travelling for an extended period, ask whether you can have extended European car insurance.
- Countries cover is provided for: It sounds simple – Europe means Europe, doesn’t it – but some policies will only cover countries that are in the EU, for example.