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European Car Insurance

European Car Insurance

More than 2.5 million Brits took to the road in Europe last year. If you’re planning to drive on the continent, find out whether driving in Europe is covered by regular car insurance.  
This page also contains information about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 06 APRIL 2020

Crucial information about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic 

The UK government has made it clear that no one should leave their homes, except in essential circumstances. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has also advised against all non-essential travel abroad. 
The COVID-19 pandemic has spread throughout Europe, and many countries are taking significant steps to reduce the spread of coronavirus, including stopping drivers crossing their borders or travelling within their country. If you’re planning to or are already driving within Europe, check the Foreign Travel Advice section of the GOV.UK website for specific information. You should also contact your insurance provider, to find out how driving abroad during the coronavirus outbreak may affect your policy. 
For more on driving and the coronavirus pandemic, read our coronavirus and motoring FAQ page
Please note: This information was correct at the time of publication on 6 April 2020, but, because of the impact of COVID-19, things are changing rapidly. We aim to keep this page updated, but check with your insurance provider or potential provider directly to confirm any details. 

Will I need extra car insurance to drive in Europe?

All UK car insurance policies provide minimum third-party cover to drive in other EU countries, but don’t assume that because you have a comprehensive policy in the UK, you’ll automatically have the same level of cover valid in Europe.  
Many policies will also have a limit on the number of days that you’re covered to drive in Europe. This could be a limit lasting a number of consecutive days called  continuous cover, or could be a total   yearly allowance.  

How do I get European car insurance? 

Let your insurance provider know that you’re planning to drive in Europe and they will extend your cover. You may be able to get an add-on to give you exactly the same level of cover as you have in the UK. 

It’s also worth discussing the specifics of your journey with your insurance provider so they can tailor the cover for your dates of travel in Europe. 

Which European countries are covered by European car insurance?

With even minimum UK car insurance (third party), you’re also covered in all EU countries. Your policy may cover additional countries throughout Europe, but this may vary between policies and insurance providers. 
Requesting a green card from your insurance provider may extend the number of countries you’re eligible to drive in, as well as help you if you want to make a claim. These are usually free of charge, but you may be charged an admin fee.

What is the Green Card system?

The Green Card is designed to help cars move more easily across Europe. It acts as an internationally recognised car insurance document.

You don’t have to have a Green Card to drive in Europe, but in some countries, you may be asked to produce it by the local authorities.

Having a Green Card also guarantees that the victim of an accident caused by a foreign vehicle will be compensated in the country of the accident, if the driver of the foreign vehicle was found to be at fault.

Green Cards are usually provided free by car insurance providers. However, you may be charged an admin fee. 

Which countries are part of the Green Card system?

Currently 47 countries, including all 28 European Union countries and EEA countries, are part of the Green Card System. Some countries outside of the EU, that are also part of the Green Card system, include Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine. 

Temporary car insurance for Europe 

If, for whatever reason, your existing insurance doesn’t cover you to drive throughout Europe, you should consider taking out a temporary car insurance policy. If you’re going on holiday and need cover quickly, you can take out a policy that fits the length of your trip. 
With policies that can last as long as a day and up to several months, you’ll benefit from a level of flexibility that perhaps isn’t available with your usual car insurance provider. It may also be easier to take out a separate, temporary policy, rather than amending your existing cover. 

What documents do I need to drive in Europe?

As well as a full, valid driving licence, you need your:

If you’re hiring a car, you’ll also need a DVLA check code.

Print your documents and take them with you.

What else should I know before driving in Europe? 

As well as all the appropriate documents, there are several other things you must consider before heading out on the roads in Europe: 

  • Check your number plates – if they don’t have the GB symbol on them, you’ll need to put a GB sticker on your car 
  • Your headlights – driving on the other side of the road means you must legally prevent your headlights from dazzling other drivers 
  • Extra gear – many European countries require you to carry specific gear, such as a high-vis jacket. Each country’s laws are different, so be sure to check beforehand 
  • Consider European breakdown cover – while your basic insurance may extend to the rest of Europe, your breakdown cover may not 
  • Know how to make a claim in the country you’re visiting – check if the process is different to claiming at home, to prevent any nasty surprises. 

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