Can I get car insurance abroad? All you need to know

Can I get car insurance abroad? All you need to know
Whether touring the rolling hills of Provence in your own car, or hiring one to take on the iconic Route 66, you’ll need car insurance for driving abroad.

We help you work out if you’re covered…

Can I drive abroad on my current car insurance?

If you’re taking your own car to Europe through the Channel Tunnel or on a ferry, you’ll usually be covered by your UK car insurance.

Pretty much all UK policies give you at least the minimum level of cover required for driving in the European Union as standard.

One thing to watch, however, is that you might find the cover provided is only third party. This means if you have an accident, you won’t be able to make a claim to repair your own vehicle – you’ll only be covered for damage to the other car or cars involved.

Other policies will retain the level of protection you already have, so if you have a fully comprehensive policy in the UK, the same applies to travelling in Europe too.

Countries that are in Europe but outside the EU, including Switzerland and Norway, will also usually be covered by your policy, but it’s worth double checking this.

And when the UK leaves the EU in March next year, car insurance rules for driving abroad are expected to stay the same. The Government has formally decided to keep the UK within the Motor Insurance ‘Free Circulation Zone'.

Should I increase my cover?

If you only have third party car insurance for driving in Europe, you might want to consider increasing your cover.

Would you be able to afford repairs to your own car if you were to have an accident? As well as ruining your holiday, not having the right cover could well leave you out of pocket.

If you’d prefer a higher level of protection to give you extra peace-of-mind, get in touch with your insurer to ask if they’ll upgrade your existing fully comprehensive policy for driving abroad, and how much it will cost you.

As part of your preparations, it’s also a good idea to have a European driving kit with you that complies with European driving laws.

READ MORE: Driving abroad? Be prepared, take out European Breakdown Cover

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered when driving in Europe from just £7. Plus, get a full refund if Covid-19 restrictions prevent travel.†

Do I need a Green Card to drive abroad?

A Green Card is an internationally-recognised certificate that serves as proof of insurance and allows you to drive across international borders.

It guarantees that if you’re involved in an accident caused by a foreign vehicle, you’ll be compensated in the country of the accident.

A Green Card is no longer required for travel within the European Economic Area, but you will still need to take your Certificate of Motor Insurance with you.

Check with your insurer if you’re not sure whether you need a Green Card. If you do, get one before your trip – there’s no charge for it.

Take it with you when you travel abroad as it could help you if you have to make a claim.

In total, 47 countries are signed up to the Green Card Scheme, including all 28 EU countries, plus some in the Middle East and North Africa.

Some countries also require an International Driving Permit too.

The countries that still require a Green Card are Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Israel, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.

READ MORE: Driving in Europe checklist

How long does cover last for driving abroad?

Car insurance policies usually have a limit on the number of days they will cover you for while driving abroad.

For instance, your policy may cover you for a maximum of 30 consecutive days in a single trip and up to a maximum of 90 days in any one year.

You might need to pay an additional premium if you’re planning to be away for longer.

If you’re only driving in Europe for a short period but want fully comprehensive cover, you could get temporary car insurance.

This typically covers you for up to 30 days. It can be worthwhile if you’re only taking a single trip in the year or want to share driving duties with someone, as you can add other drivers to the policy.

How do I make a claim when abroad?

If you’re involved in a car accident while overseas, the first thing you should do is call the local police. In most countries, they must attend an accident involving a foreign vehicle.

The police will ask you to sign a European Accident Statement after all the relevant information has been exchanged between the parties involved.

You may also be asked to show your driving licence, V5C and insurance certificate.

You should contact your insurer immediately after the accident if your vehicle isn’t driveable. If it’s a minor accident, you can wait until you return home.

READ MORE: 7 car insurance myths debunked

What insurance do I need to rent a car?

When you’re hiring a vehicle, insurance cover should be part of the deal, but always check what’s included. In most countries, car rental agreements give you three types of basic cover – theft, damage and third-party liability.

Most agreements don’t cover you for damage to the car if you fill up with the wrong fuel, so make sure you’re totally clear on which one to use.

If you’re travelling long distances across the US or Australia, for example, ensure you’re covered for unlimited daily mileage.

Most car hire companies charge a very high excess, which could set you back a pretty penny if the car was damaged, even for minor scratches.

A cheaper option may be to get separate cover for the excess. This entitles you to claim back your excess if you’re charged. Find out more about Car Hire Excess Insurance.

If you’re borrowing a car from a friend or family member for a road trip, you’ll need to check that you have the appropriate cover is in place. It may work out cheaper to arrange a separate temporary car insurance policy.

These flexible policies can be taken out alongside your existing annual insurance policy for up to 30 days. You can add cover for driving in Europe when you purchase.

You will need to make sure the countries you are travelling to are included. Often journeys must start and finish within the UK. Find out more about temporary car insurance.

Temporary Car Insurance

Get short term insurance from 1 hour to 30 days. It’s quick! Get covered within 15 minutes. Buy online 24/7.

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover