Driving your own car abroad: insurance implications
Do you need to take out extra insurance if you want to drive your car abroad?
Lots of British motorists get caught out because they assume their car insurance automatically covers them for driving in other parts of the EU – but once you're abroad, you could find that your cover is only on a Third-party basis. To enjoy the protection of comprehensive cover you may need to take out extra insurance.
Preparation check list for a driving abroad
- Take your car for a service before you leave the UK.
- Make sure you have a GB sticker clearly visible on the back of your car if your number plate doesn’t include this information.
- Research the driving laws of the country you're visiting, including the local speed limits.
- Get headlamp converters if you’re driving on the right-hand side of the road.
- Make sure that your car complies with other vehicle requirements in the countries you're visiting (for example in some countries at certain times of the year you must have winter tyres fitted).
- Check with your insurance company that you’re fully covered to drive abroad. If they include only Third-party cover for driving in the EU you may decide to take out extra insurance to offer comprehensive protection.
- Make sure you have European breakdown recovery and cover for any medical expenses resulting from an accident abroad.
- Check whether you need a Green Card for the country you’re visiting (see below).
- Check whether you need an International Driving Permit at your destination. Note that you can't drive abroad on a provisional licence - these are national documents that do not entitle the holder to drive elsewhere.
The Green Card - do you still need one?
In the past, British drivers abroad needed a document called a 'Green Card' as proof of insurance cover in the UK, which means under EU law that you are covered to drive within Europe as well (although it may be Third-party only cover). Nowadays, however, you are only obliged to carry this document in a handful of countries.
The countries still requiring a Green Card are Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Iran, Israel, Moldova, Morocco, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.
The countries no longer requiring a Green Card are Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Despite this, it can be worth carrying a Green Card anyway – the Green Card is still the insurance document most readily recognised and understood by national police forces, and some tourists travelling in remote areas of countries such as France have reported running into problems when they haven't had this documentation, even though it is no longer a requirement there.
So what is "Green Card Cover"?
Just to confuse matters, some insurers will offer you European cover at the same level of cover you have in the UK – and they sometimes call this 'Green card cover'. The cost of taking out a higher level of insurance for driving abroad will depend on the length of your trip and the type of car you're covering. European breakdown cover can sometimes be combined with this.