Driving abroad and your car insurance policy | comparethemarket.com

A simples guide

How to make sure you're insured to drive abroad

Whether you’re road tripping around the Ardennes or off to a conference in Calais, if you’re planning on driving abroad there’s a couple of things you ought to know: 

Preparing for the trip

-Check the rules: Depending on where you are going, the rules of the road could be quite different from here at home. Even driving laws and requirements in neighbouring countries differ. Spend some time familiarising yourself with local traffic rules and customs, not least, which side of the road they drive on!

Note: It may also be a good idea to check the drink driving laws in case they differ from the UK.

-Check your equipment: you’ll need to think about whether you need to carry any additional items in your car. Certain countries such as France require you to have the following in the car: reflective hazard triangles, fluorescent jackets and a portable breathalyser.

Did you know: your car must display a GB sticker on the back (unless there is already a GB on your number plate). Failure to do so may result in an on-the-spot fine.

-Check your documentation: it is worth being organised and collecting together all the documentation you will need in the event that you get into difficulties on your travels.

You’ll need: your passport, your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5), breakdown policy, travel insurance documents, emergency helpline numbers and last but not least, your car insurance certificate. You might be needing a bigger bag!

Your car insurance abroad

What level of car insurance you have abroad will depend on your current policy. It’s worth checking that first. If your policy does mention overseas cover you should still watch for:

  • The level of cover: many policies will only offer the most basic form of cover when abroad. Do not assume that because you have a full comprehensive policy in the UK, that you will automatically have the same once you cross the Channel. Check with your insurer before you travel
  • The period of cover: you might find policies have a limit on the number of days they will cover you while driving abroad. This could be a continuous limit, for example 14 days in succession or could be a total yearly allowance. It is worth discussing the specifics of your journey with your insurer to tailor it for your dates.
driving abroad with UK driving licance

Whats a green card?

You may have heard of the Green Card System and you may be offered a Green Card by your insurer. The system was originally created to help make it easier to drive between countries in Europe by creating one recognised European document.

The Green Card is now recognised as an international certificate of insurance and proves to foreign authorities that you have the minimum compulsory level of insurance for the country that you’re driving in. You don’t need to have it in the EEA but you may be asked to produce the document by the local authorities in some countries.

Possession of a Green Card guarantees that if you’re in an accident caused by a foreign vehicle you’ll be compensated in the country of the accident.

The responsibility for issuing the cards in the UK rests with The Motor Insurers’ Bureau, but they have delegated the responsibility for issuing and printing them to individual insurers.

In total there are 47 countries signed up the Green Card scheme including all 28 European Union countries as well as Middle Eastern nations, Russia and some in North Africa.

driving on european roads

What is an international driving permit?

An International Driving Permit (IDP), and yes, the clue is in the name, is an internationally recognised permit that allows you to drive abroad when accompanied by a UK driving licence. They are valid for 12 months from date of issue.

It sounds a bit technical but in most cases you’ll need a 1949 Convention IDP. Only if you’re about to go driving in Brazil, Iraq or Somalia will you need a 1926 Convention IDP.

A permit can be obtained via the AA or an application at your Post Office.

Remember that having a permit is not the same as having insurance for driving abroad.

For more information regarding your car insurance abroad contact your current insurer or click here to compare car insurance now.


driving abroad out of the EU

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