Driving in Europe car insurance tips

  • Make sure you’re covered for driving abroad
  • Some policies don’t extend to mainland Europe
  • Explained: Green Card, temporary insurance and much more

Planning to take your car abroad this year? Think you’re insured? Many motorists might not give the latter a second thought – scary when you consider the reality of something going wrong with your vehicle in an alien country.

Help is at hand, though, with the Parkers comprehensive guide to car insurance on the continent. We've highlighted all the essentials you need to know, including how to check what level of European insurance you have, how long you’re covered for and what exactly a Green Card is.

Am I covered to drive in Europe?

In all likelihood, yes, you are. But before you jump in the car and speed off towards Dover, there’s a couple things worth pointing out.

Number one is that while the vast majority of UK car insurance policies will provide the minimum level of cover required for driving in foreign countries, a small number will not. Always check the terms and conditions of your contract before leaving, and if it’s still not clear, give your insurance company a call.

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Secondly, even if you are covered for driving abroad, it’s highly unlikely that your policy will offer the same level of insurance you are granted in the UK.

Therefore, just because you’ve taken out comprehensive cover in the UK, it might not translate into the same abroad – more than likely downgrading to Third Party/Third Party fire and theft the moment you leave the UK.

Again, double check this before the off. Some insurers will give you the option to upgrade to comprehensive European cover – for a small fee, of course.

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Better still, if you make lots of cross-continent road trips why not use the Mustard.co.uk insurance comparison site to see which providers offer European insurance, and to what level of cover.

Can I take out temporary European car insurance?

Yes you can – and for those taking a single trip it could be the ideal solution. For example, if your insurance doesn’t include driving in Europe – or only covers you third party – you can take out a temporary policy instead of attempting to modify your primary insurance.

This could be especially useful if you only plan to drive abroad for a weekend, yet your UK insurer can only offer the bells-and-whistles 180-day cover. Do make sure that the temporary cover includes European travel, though – not all do as standard!

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How long am I covered for when driving in Europe?

Say you are one of the lucky ones who enjoy extensive 180-day cover for driving in Europe.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you can motor across the continent for six months all in one go.

Many insurers will give a maximum amount of days that you’re covered, but then have a separate timescale for how many days can be taken consecutively. Therefore, if you’re planning any extended foreign jaunts (usually longer than a week), it’s best to give your insurance company a quick call to let them know.

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Do I need a Green Card?

First things first. The Green Card we’re referring to is totally unrelated to the one that enables you to live permanently in the United States.

Instead, it’s an internationally accepted document proving the existence of insurance on the vehicle in question. It used to to be mandatory in all European countries and still is in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, FRY Macedonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Russia.

However, while most major nations on the continent do not require drivers to carry a Green Card, we’d still recommend procuring one from your insurer. In the event of an accident or if pulled over by local Police, carrying a Green Card could end up saving you a lot of time and effort.

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Will I have breakdown cover in Europe?

Again, check with your provider before you leave. While some breakdown companies will provide European cover as standard, many will want to charge extra for the privilege or, in some cases, not offer any full stop.

What documents do I need to take?

For insurance purposes, be sure to bring your driving licence, certificate of motor insurance and – ideally – your Green Card. The same goes for breakdown cover documents. Also make sure the number you need to call in the event of an accident is easily accessible at all times.

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