Car insurance in Europe

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Car insurance in Europe

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European car insurance

If you’re planning on driving to and around Europe, you’ll need European car insurance cover. Any standard 12 month car insurance policy you find through us will almost always have 30 days of European cover included as standard. The cover you get will be the legal minimum amount of cover required for the country you are in. This is usually third party only, but you should always check with your insurer before you leave the UK. As well as your insurance, it’s important to consider everything else you might need to have a safe, legal and stress-free trip.

If you’re ready to get a quote, you can compare policies now. When you see your list of quotes, select 'more info' and look for the 'driving abroad' section under the policy features. This gives you an overview of your cover, but for more in depth detail, check the policy terms and conditions from the insurer to make sure it includes the European cover you need.
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How does European car insurance work?

Car insurance is a legal requirement wherever you drive.

When looking at car insurance for Europe, you'll need to at least have third-party cover in place. But, as with driving in the UK, this only covers you for damage you cause to others, their property or their vehicles.

A standard UK car insurance policy should include third-party cover for you to drive in European Union (EU) countries for up to 30 days.

You can usually get the same cover in the following European countries that aren't in the EU:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Andorra
  • Liechtenstein
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

Your level of cover can vary depending on the insurer. If you have an existing policy, you can find out whether your policy covers driving in Europe by checking your policy details or contacting your insurer. If you’ve not bought your policy yet, you can check the policy details or speak to the insurer before buying.

Even if you have comprehensive cover in the UK, you're likely to only have third-party cover for driving in Europe.

So always check your policy details to see exactly which countries your policy covers and how much cover this includes.

For more peace of mind while driving abroad, consider upgrading to comprehensive cover.

Your insurer may charge you to upgrade your cover. But if you're involved in an accident that's your fault, or the fault is unknown, you’ll be able to make a claim to cover vehicle damage or personal injury to yourself.

Levels of car insurance cover explained

As with any standard car insurance policy, there are 3 levels of cover available, but not all are available for driving in Europe.

Comprehensive

Comprehensive car insurance - also known as ‘fully comp’ - gives you the most protection. It covers you and your car as well as other people and their property. If you want this full level of European car insurance, talk to the insurance company to check if you can get this added on or upgraded.

Third-party

Third-party car insurance is the lowest level of cover available and the minimum legal level of cover required to drive in Europe. This is what you're likely to get as standard cover once you leave the UK, unless you upgrade. It covers you if you damage someone else’s property or injure them while driving, and covers your passengers too.

Third-party, fire and theft

Third-party, fire and theft offers everything included with third-party cover. But it also covers your car for repair or replacement costs if it's stolen or damaged by fire. You can't get this level of cover for driving in Europe as stand alone, but this will be covered by comprehensive cover.

Can I get a temporary European car insurance policy?

Yes. If your existing car insurance policy doesn’t include cover for driving in Europe, or you don’t have existing insurance, you can buy short term cover to drive in Europe.

Your cover can start instantly and last for up to 28 days. Find out more about temporary european car insurance and get a quote.

What is a green card and will I need one?

A green card provides proof that your vehicle is insured when you're driving abroad. This can be important if you're involved in a car accident.

UK car insurance policies usually cover you to drive in most of Europe without a green card. This is because it is a legal requirement for UK motor insurance companies to offer third-party cover in EU countries. For more information about green cards and documents needed, read our guide to driving in Europe and abroad.

Can I get European breakdown cover?

Yes you can. Although European breakdown cover isn't a legal requirement, you should consider it as it could help you if you have problems with your car when driving in Europe.

It’s available as an add-on to your car insurance when you get your quote, or you can get a standalone policy by comparing European breakdown cover quotes with us.

What else do I need to know before driving in Europe?

You can find out more information from the government website about driving in the EU, but here are a few other considerations before you leave for your trip:

Along with insuring your car, don’t forget to buy your travel insurance before you go. You can compare quotes with us for all European and EU countries.

You'll need a UK identifier sticker on your number plate throughout Europe. This applies even if you have an old GB sticker on it.

You'll need to adjust your car's headlights for driving on the opposite side of the road at night. This is so they don't dazzle other drivers. Pick up a headlamp converter kit before you cross the channel.

Many countries require you to have additional safety equipment in your car. This typically includes:

  • A warning triangle
  • Reflective jacket
  • First aid kit

Check the rules for the countries you'll be driving in.

Only 4 countries in Europe drive on the left:

  • United Kingdom
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Malta
  • Cyprus

As well as driving on the other side of the road, be prepared for different road signs, traffic systems and driving customs.

What our European car insurance expert says

"All UK vehicle insurance companies provide third-party cover in EU countries, so most annual insurance policies will give you at least 30 days over to drive in Europe. But you should always check the exact terms and conditions with your provider. Before opting for the cheapest cover a brand provides, make sure you consider what you'll be using your car for.

If you want comprehensive cover, talk to your insurer and possibly upgrade before you leave the UK."

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