European Car Insurance

Thousands of people take their cars abroad every year, but did you know that without specific European insurance you may not be adequately covered to drive outside the UK?

Many drivers wrongly assume that their insurance will cover them for the same things in Europe as it will in the UK, but this is not always the case as some insurers do not offer comprehensive European cover as standard. This means you may have to purchase add-ons to your current policy or separate European car insurance if you're planning to travel abroad.

Can I legally drive in Europe with UK insurance?

If you have insurance for your car in the UK then you can drive legally in most European countries, including those that aren't in the EU. However, it is worth noting that in most cases you'll only have the minimum amount of cover, even if you have comprehensive UK insurance.

Until recently you needed an International Certificate of Motor Insurance or a Green Card to drive in the EU and, although this is no longer a legal requirement, it can be a good idea to get a green card as it's an easy way to show that your vehicle is legal and insured. You can obtain a green card from your insurer, but it can’t be used as a substitute for more comprehensive cover. In fact, in many countries, having a green card will only afford you the same level of protection as third party cover would in the UK.

What is covered by European car insurance?

Many holidaymakers prefer to find European cover that offers the same level of protection as their UK insurance, but bear in mind that different policies will offer different things and always read any policy carefully so you know exactly what you are and are not covered for.

You can buy annual European car insurance but this will normally only cover you for a period of 90 days or less, so if you're going to be away longer you will need extended cover. You can extend the cover you have or look for a specialist insurer that offers car insurance overseas for longer periods of time.

If you're only going to be away for a short time it can be more cost effective to purchase short term or temporary insurance which can cover you for between 1 and 28 days in total. However, if you're planning to go abroad more than once in a year then it can work out cheaper to buy an annual policy rather than purchasing a separate plan each time you travel.

Make sure you understand exactly what you will be able to claim for with your European Car Insurance and make sure you find out which countries your policy covers as some insurers will only provide policies if you travel within the EU. So, even if you are just travelling through a non-EU country such as Switzerland, you'll still need to be insured.

You should also make sure you understand who is entitled to drive your car in Europe if you are planning to share the driving on your trip.

Will Breakdown Cover be included in my policy?

As with insurance in the UK, breakdown cover may not be automatically included in your policy, but having someone to call on if your car runs into trouble can be a useful lifeline so it can be wise to choose breakdown cover as an add-on if it's not included.

In general, provision of a replacement vehicle will not be included in basic cover so if you want to be able to get access to a vehicle if your own one breaks down, remember to include this in your policy too.

Can I get European cover if I'm under 21?

The majority of providers won't offer European insurance if you're under 21 and many will not provide insurance for those aged under 25, so if you're younger than this you may find it difficult to get your vehicle insured. However, it's always worth finding out whether an insurer will consider you, if you're not sure then contact your insurance company.

How can I find cheap European car insurance?

If you want to find cheap European car insurance then a good place to start is by checking comparison websites where you'll be able to get several quotes and search for insurance that meets your specific needs. Many insurers will also offer a discount if you buy online as it costs them less to process an online purchase than one which involves paperwork.

If you already have UK insurance then it may be worth finding out if your current insurer can offer you a discount if you take out another policy with them.

The cost of repairs can be more expensive in Europe than the UK and most insurers take this into account when setting premiums. In the UK, the more expensive and powerful your car is the more it costs to insure and the same rules generally apply to European insurance. If you want to keep the costs to a minimum then avoid taking expensive, powerful cars abroad or cars that have parts that are difficult to replace.

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